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Kissing in America Hardcover – May 26, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Two years ago, Eva Roth's father was killed in a plane crash, which is still being investigated. Eva's grief is as fresh as it was the day he died, but her mother seems determined to move on and expects Eva to do the same. As her mother becomes increasingly uncommunicative and obsessed with work, Eva tries to escape her pain by focusing on preparing for college; studying with her best friend, Annie; and losing herself in the pages of romance novels. When the teen is paired with high school heartthrob, Will, in an after-school tutoring session, she discovers that he, too, has lost a family member. Their shared understanding of loss and pain draws them into a relationship that is abruptly halted when Will has to move from New York to Los Angeles. Following the advice of her favorite romance novelist, Eva determines to find a way to go "get her man." She convinces the brilliant Annie to enter the two of them in an academic teen game show that promises a trip to Los Angeles and a $20,000 scholarship to the winner. Together they embark on a cross-country adventure that will test their friendship, and ultimately bring Eva to a deeper understanding of herself and her family. With a full cast of multidimensional characters, this novel explores the complex nature of relationships and the many faces of grief and love with equal parts humor and poignancy. VERDICT A first purchase for most YA collections.—Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA
“Wonderful . . . Margo Rabb has created nothing less than a women’s map of American mythologies, navigating from Emily Dickinson to Barbara Cartland, from the cowboys of the rodeos to the makeup studios of Hollywood, and from the bottom of the Atlantic to the spacious skies of the USA.” (E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars)
“A wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence and the inner lives of girls. Margo Rabb writes with compassion and clarity about lives that are worth telling, journeys that need to be taken, peace that needs to be reached. I loved it.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray Love)
“That Margo Rabb can write a story so gorgeous, funny, and joyous that is also unsentimental and honest is a testament to her skill and to her heart. I loved everything about Eva and the supporting cast in this beautiful novel.” (Sara Zarr, author of The Lucy Variations)
“It is a marvel and I love every word of it: the carefully structured plot, the memorable characters, the wholly apposite style and tone. It is funny, sad, wistful, wise, and altogether memorable.” (Michael Cart)
“Rabb’s funny and big-hearted second novel is bursting with resonant themes of love, death, family, art and identity, fully embodied in a diverse cast of wonderfully fallible and entertaining characters.” (New York Times Book Review)
“This feminist rom-com reminds us it’s never about the boy but the joyride.” (O Magazine)
“Rabb eloquently gets grief right in this compassionate, perceptive, and poignant story, deftly leavened with irreverent humor, of a girl in conflict with her mother. Wise, inspiring, and ultimately uplifting—not to be missed.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“A smart teen’s novel. [The] characters are authentic and complex. Rabb knows the perfect point to interject humor to diffuse a potentially devastating situation—a leavening of sorts to the reality that death and love inexplicitly alter the landscape of a person’s life.” (Booklist (starred review))
“In this indelible coming-of-age story, Rabb seamlessly weaves together multiple narratives. Sprinkled with the poetry Eva reads and writes, this story makes for a hilarious, thought-provoking, wrenching, and joyful quest.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“[A] well-balanced read that exposes readers to weighty ideas and difficult feelings while keeping them entertained and emotionally invested.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))
“With a full cast of multidimensional characters, this novel explores the complex nature of relationships and the many faces of grief and love with equal parts humor and poignancy.” (School Library Journal)
“Humor and depth . . . Often entertainingly snarky” (The Horn Book)
“A young-adult novel that deftly weaves humor and snippets of poetry into its road-trip story. A beautifully crafted coming-of-age story that illuminates the layers of relationships.” (Austin Statesman)
“It made me laugh until I choked, and it made me cry-it’s a book that made my heart feel full.” (Leila Roy, Kirkus Reviews Blog)
“Tender, expansive . . . Eva is a likable, sympathetic character whose horizons expand literally —during a New York-to-L.A. bus trip with a friend—and metaphorically.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Kissing in America” is a road-trip story with humor and heart. (Boston Globe)
“Rabb’s coming-of-age story has a sweep as wide as the star-spangled sky. [Her] snapshots of America are witty and perceptive and appropriately poetic. There’s not just one love story in Kissing in America, there are many. (Austin Chronicle)
Top customer reviews
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Eva Roth is a sixteen year old girl who is in love with Romance Books, the historical and oddly/funnily worded type. Eva has been dealing with her dad's death and trying to communicate with her mom, a womanyst and professor who thinks brushing it away is the best way to deal. She meets a guy in tutoring named Will. And falls for him. Hard. And after becoming closer with him, both sharing dark secrets about their losses and families, he moves to Los Angeles. She decides to go visit him and the best way to get there is have her best friend Annie try out for "The Smartest Girl in America", a game show with a scholarship as a prize.
This book was like mini stories combined in one great tale. There was the falling in love. The game show. The travel across the country...and the addition of Eva's Aunt Janet, the crazy woman who thinks everyone on the planet has an STD. (I swear she makes me laugh!)
It starts off asking what's wrong with romance...but winds up more than a tale of love and how a teenager needs to be with her man boyfriend teenage guy friend. That's why it seems shallow in the description. This has a lesson in life and death. Lessons in being okay with who you are whether the smartest girl in the US or a romantic or even a gung-ho girl power guru. Lessons about love gained and love lost and all the different kinds of love to hold onto or lose forever.
All told in a creative, fun way.
I'd recommend this book to any girl out there--any personality, old or young, at any phase in their life.
(also posted on goodreads and my blog)
This is where it goes off track. Eva is too young to drive, too young to leave home really. She gets her friend to sign up for a scholarship contest so she can get out there to see Will. It's just childish the things this girl does.
But it's realistic, I think. Who makes the best choices when experiencing deep grief? Add to that a neglectful parent who is suffering from her own grief. Eva was just a girl trying to feel better.
I had a hard time putting it down, even when it was bitterly painful. I'd call this a coming of age novel more than romance.
Accessible enough to be " pop" but intelligently written enough to be " literary" ( The main character cites writing from Edna St. Vincent Millay to Gloria Steinem to Adrienne Rich. ) , this wonderful , sweet book has everything : dramatic intrigue ( because of her mother's inability to demonstrate coping mechanisms, the main character, a teenager, lies that her father died of a heart attack instead of in a famous plane crash) , love ( rarely has the anguish and thrill of teenage love been written with such biting honesty and lack of vomitously maudlin treacle) , a road trip ( the main characters totally communicate that first thrill of seeing different states) , contemporary tropes ( the main character and her best friend are going across country to be on a reality/game show for one's college education monies ) and finally, that nearly fail-safe tack, a main character who is an avid reader and writer. The entire book moves swiftly, but you are sad to see it end, and when the denouements ( one expected, one rather painfully shocking ) arrive, the breath may be knocked out of you and you may want to stop reading, but you won't be able to... and is there anything more you could ask from a book than that?
Eva is so quietly powerful and you get sucked into her journey to find love, deal with grief, and grow up with grace.
The plot has hilarious and heartfelt twists and turns that make it unique and sentimental at the same time. There's predictable moments, but there's also some gorgeous quiet surprises that had tears flowing while I smiled.
Reading this book made my heart happy.
Most recent customer reviews
Our protagonist Eva is a bookish high school senior living in NYC who adores romance novels.Read more
Sums this book up perfectly. While I was hesitant on the romance of it all, this book clearly reflected a young...Read more