Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Eva knows who Will is (everyone knows who Will is). When he starts coming to her tutoring sessions, she senses that they have a connection (despite the fact that Will has a girlfriend). School is about to end and finally the timing seems right–Will is single and Eva is confident that he feels something too. Unfortunately, Will is about to move across the country to live with his father and his father’s new wife. What’s a girl supposed to do when she lives in New York and her soulmate is in California?

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Who doesn’t love a good road trip book? I, personally, LOVE THEM (see Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour). This book grabbed me right from the beginning and did not let go. Eva and Annie are both such great characters. I loved reading about smart girls who are also just fun, normal people. They’re focused, but not myopic. They have goals, but they’re not unrealistically narrow-minded. They have this great friendship and a natural understanding of each other that only comes from years of quality time spent together. I also loved that, in this case, our main character is kind of the sidekick. I thought Will was a really well-written character too. We’re seeing him mostly from Eva’s perspective and I felt all of the same feelings that she did when they finally see each other again. My only complaint about characters was that they seemed a tad too mature for their age, but at the same time they have experienced things that would naturally mature them…so maybe it is realistic.

The adult characters were also extremely well-written. I loved just how present they are throughout the story and not in the typical way. They’re humorous and embarrassing and well-meaning and just so real. I loved that. In this book, we’re given such a good portrayal of the imperfect relationship that can exist between mother and daughter–it’s not always a buddy/buddy relationship like you see in other YA books. Overall, the adults in this book really add another layer to the story and gave me one more reason to fall in love with it.

I thought this book also had really great character development. Throughout the journey, Eva learns things about herself and about her various relationships with other characters. I really feel that by the end of the book, Eva has grown a lot as a person and has come to some really important conclusions. The ending was real and so perfect.

From my description and review, this book may seem like a lightweight, but I assure you it is not. It deals with death and loss in a couple of different ways and perspectives. Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It’s not going to be about what you think it is. I won’t elaborate much more beyond that, but it took me by surprise.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Some mention of underage smoking.
Sexual Content: Moderate. Nothing crude or too explicit (our main character loves romance novels so there are some brief, non-explicit “quotes”).

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