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Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Hardcover – August 28, 2007
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The two leading characters live in the same apartment building in Manhattan and both are victims of broken marriages. One of Ely's two moms had an affair with Naomi's dad -- who then walked out leaving her mother depressed and devastated. Ely's moms stayed together.
Naomi and Ely are closer than most siblings and Naomi has an immature fantasy that one day they will marry -- despite the fact that Ely is flamboyantly and unapologetically gay. When Ely is attracted to Naomi's current boyfriend -- one of two characters in the book named Bruce -- Naomi ends their friendship leaving them both miserable. The rest of the book consists of everyone learning to come to terms with who they really are and accepting others for who they are and learning to get along and love one another etc etc.
This book has its moments of wit. The authors' love of language once again comes through. But it's needlessly confusing with the multiple narrative voices and the characters struck me as a bit too knowing. At one point in the novel, someone makes the point that Manhattanites are different from the rest of the country -- and maybe the rest of the world -- in their knowing sophistication and premature world-weariness.
These kids, it struck me, had all grown up too fast, too soon. They were masquerading as characters in a sleek, sophisticated novel instead of having real lives. There was someone overly theatrical about the dilemmas they invented for themselves. While Dash and Lily had a wonderful, optimistic innocence about them and a thirst to discover the world, the characters of this book seemed to know it all -- before it had even happened.
Both the book and the movie introduce us to Naomi and Ely, next-door neighbors and best friends since childhood. They are in their second semester at NYU and Naomi isn't doing so well. She's failing out of college, madly in love with Ely, dating a boring guy, and trying to pick up the pieces of her mother and father's separation. Trying to learn a lesson from their parents, Naomi and Ely create a "no kiss list" in order to make sure no boy ever comes between them. But when Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend, their friendship takes a dangerous dive.
The book is fun and flip flops between the perspectives of Naomi and Ely as well as many of the other characters. The book would have been a lot stronger if it simply kept to the perspectives of Naomi and Ely instead of including random characters like Kelly (Bruce #1's twin sister). I liked that the book really explored Ely and Bruce #2's relationship on a deeper level including giving Ely a lot more depth and heart. I also hated how often Naomi talked with emoticons. I would have to stop and try to translate what the stupid little picture was supposed to mean and it really interrupted the flow of my reading.
As much as I hate to admit this, I liked the movie better. The movie stays in the point of view of Naomi which makes for a stronger story. It keeps all the sass and wit of the book writing and makes it really pop on screen. You really get to see Naomi and Ely's friendship and inside jokes. Watch the movie on Netflix. It has some great writing, great acting, and a really sweet story.
The talent of these authors resides in their evocative portrayals of flawed, seemingly selfish characters and relationships. Naomi is beautiful yet broken with family problems; Ely is scared of commitment and rather self-destructive.
There is an outstanding depth of character within the main cast--as well as of that of the supporting cast. Unlike Nick and Nora, Leviathan and Cohn unveil the thoughts of supporting cast by dedicating entire chapters to the likes of Bruce the First and Second, the Robins, the handsome yet mysterious doorman. Picture the opportunity to read Nick and Nora from the perspective of either of the Evil Ex's, the gay band boys, Norah's drunken best friend. It was fresh, beautiful.
Naomi and Ely's long, intimate history together; their quirky apartment residents; their dilemmas, delusions and diatribes all make for an excellent read. And in the end you will have a gratefulness for friends who are as imperfect as the face in the mirror, but essential to your being nonetheless.
The parts with Bruce, and Bruce the Second really got on my nerves.
I would just skim paragraphs waiting for something to happen while Ely and Naomi bitched at each other over something stupid. I like Gabriel, he was a great addition to the plot.
And that's about it.
Definitely not Nick and Nora.
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So, Naomi and Ely have been best friends forever, Naomi loves Ely, Ely loves boys.Read more