Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls “gorgeous, funny, and joyous,” readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all of its forms.
My Thoughts:
A road-trip novel about friendship, first loves, family and self-discovery - what else could you ask for?

It has been two years since Eva's father died in a tragic accident. Her mother has shut down and is not willing to talk about what happened to Eva's father. To escape her reality, Eva has found romance novels - reading about the adventures of cowboys and their lovers allows Eva to forget her own problems for a while. When Eva meets Will, a popular boy from her school, she thinks that she has finally found her own romantic story, until Will informs that he will be moving to California to live with his father. In order to spend more time with Will, Eva talks her best friend Annie into a plan that would take them to the West Coast and off they go to a road trip that will not only change their friendship, but also the ways they understand family and love.

As I started this novel and read the first couple of chapters, I was not quite sure if I could keep on reading. The moment Will is introduced, Eva enters into a vortex of instalove. After a couple of hangouts, she is sure that she is in love with Will. As someone who definitely does not believe in the "love at first sight" concept, I always have a hard time reading about these characters who declare they love someone without really knowing the other person. Yes, I do say that I love certain people without knowing them, but those people are usually celebrities and I am pretty sure that if I actually knew that, I would not love the majority of them so much as I do now.

Because of this instalove, I was surprisingly happy when Will actually took off to California, because I knew that now Eva would have to actually think about her feelings for Will. As she takes off to California, she is first nauseatingly in love with Will (I guess the word "puppy love" could be used here), but the closer she gets to California, the more she starts to realize that real life is not like a romance novel.

I liked Eva as a character. There definitely is character growth involved when it comes to Eva, because while at the beginning I felt that she was a bit annoying, especially with the instalove stuff, towards the end she was actually someone I liked and was able to identify with to some extent. Eva has gone through a lot with her father's death, and because of the nature of his passing, she still is not quite sure what happened to her father just before he took his final breath.

I never felt anything towards Will. Yes, he is able to relate with Eva's loss and Eva is able to talk to him, but I constantly felt like Will is not quite as serious about what's between them as Eva is. Will seems experienced in love, definitely at least more experienced than Eva, and I could not help thinking that to some extent, Will does not quite understand the consequences of his actions.

As the girls get closer to California, Kissing in America starts to, fortunately, focus more on different kind of love than romantic love - a love between mother and a daughter. I love my mom to death and I always love to read about mothers and daughter who, despite differences in opinion, love each other. The death of Eva's father put a drift between Eva and her mother, and the road-trip in some way works as a way for them to work out their problems and to connect again. They are both strong personalities with strong opinions and it was fascinating to read about their relationship and the problems they face.

The way Margo Rabb writes the friendship between Eva and Annie was quite realistic and enjoyable. Eva and Annie are very different type of people, but I think Rabb is able to create a connection that makes it clear to the reader why these two people are such good friends. Eva particularly makes mistakes and does not always think about the feelings of Annie, but I feel like she is able to see her mistakes and learn from them. And most importantly, she is not afraid to say she's sorry.

Despite the difficult beginning (instalove), Kissing in America is an interesting and touching road trip story about a set of friends, first love and family. If you are taking a road trip this summer, I definitely recommend adding this to your road trip TBR. Also, this book would be perfect pick for mother-daughter book clubs because of the very realistic and problematic mother-daughter relationship of the novel.

Three and a half snowflakes


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