May 10, 2015

Sunday Street Team: Kissing in America Review

The Author

Margo Rabb
Margo Rabb is the author of the novels Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak. Her essays, journalism, book reviews, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Slate, The Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on NPR. She received the grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in the Atlantic fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. Margo grew up in Queens, New York, and has lived in Texas, Arizona, and the Midwest; she now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and children.

The Book

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

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.

Grade: B
This e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review on the Sunday Street Team blog tour.

Kissing in America was very much a coming-of-age novel. In some ways, it was the stereotypical YA novel. Eva's mother doesn't understand her. Her father is dead. She has one best friend. She loves poetry. The love interest makes a playlist of older, classic artists for Eva.
But then it broke the stereotypes with characters like Lulu and Aunt Janet and Kate. This was a novel of diverse women. Most of the women were very supportive of Eva, as long as she was making good choices. Kate wasn't as much of a villain as she first seemed. I could see why Eva and Annie were friends.
Ms. Rabb explored overcoming grief very well. Eva's father died 2 years before the events of Kissing in America, and her mother made it hard for her to close certain doors on her own terms. So Eva is definitely still mourning. She doesn't constantly think about her dad, but he's on her mind a lot and he affects a lot of her decisions. 
Eva's voice was fairly young, which was a bit off-putting. She's 16, so it's not like she's on the lower end of the YA range. She also made some questionable choices and rash statements that seemed a bit...out-of-the-blue and were never fully addressed.
I did enjoy how the romance played out. It was realistic, and honestly, I'm very glad that things were how they were for Eva and Will at the end.
There was more foul language than I was expecting, but it wasn't overwhelming. Some discussions of sex and STDs.

The Verdict: Pretty good!

Everything ached, and I didn't know why they called it heartache when it was chest and stomach and skin and flesh and blood ache.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Yes.


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