Kissing in America
The story starts off with a stuffed exposition and a heavy explanation of Eva's love for romance novels. We dive into Eva's relationship with her mother, who is a feminist and teaches women's studies. We learn about Eva and what happened to her father, who died in an airplane crash and whose body is lost beneath the waves of the ocean. And then disaster really strikes when Eva meets Will, and the plot truly kicks off.
Eva has her head in romance novels. And they aren't particularly any good. In fact, they are very embarrassingly horrible (and none of us would be caught dead reading one). But still, I can understand Eva very well and I sympathize for her. She's a dynamic character, who changes and changes to the very end.
The romance is such a fresh breath of air with realistic qualities. It's unique, and it's different than the other romances in contemporary novels I see most of the time. Though the romance seems to be the first and foremost part of the book (remember: chasing the loved one across America), it's really about Eva herself and the message. It's about friendship. It's about family. It's about mother and daughter relationship. Not about romantic love, though the book does dive a little bit into it and dabbles.
The ending satisfies the entire plot and wraps everything up very neatly. It's nice, and it's simple. And it doesn't bother with the loose ends.
Overall, KISSING IN AMERICA is the story that tells a much different tale than the one someone might see on the cover. This is definitely for those who are looking for a unique tale that doesn't stake everything on romance and first love. This is for those who are looking for something that talks about grief, first love, and most importantly of all, family and friends.
Rating: Three out of Five
I was really excited to read this book. From the description, it seemed like it would be a great ‘friends on a fun road trip with a little romance’ type of story. I am always up for road trip books, especially when they feature great friendships. It turned out to be more focused on Eva and her supposed epic insta-love than on the girls’ friendship.
Eva wasn’t my favourite character but I didn’t dislike her for the most part. She was very young and impressionable. A lot of times I thought she came across as being a lot younger than she really was. I could understand her being drawn to Will since they did have a connection, and with her romance novel obsession I could even buy into her confusing her feeling for love so quickly, but to plan a trip across the country after kissing once? That was a bit ridiculous. She was a little, maybe more than a little, over the top in love with Will and she was prone to very bad decision making, but there was something about her that also felt real. She was flawed, she made stupid mistakes over a boy, but she learned from them.
Eva’s best friend Annie was actually my favourite character. She let herself get roped into Eva’s idea but she seemed a lot more mature and I felt bad for her, knowing Eva was on the trip because of a boy and supporting Annie came second.
I had a hard time buying into the romance. Eva and Will definitely did bond and they could have been great friends but there was never a real indication of real feelings from either side. Will seemed more like a player and Eva jumped right to the love stage. It never feeling genuine made it hard to get into Eva’s excitement about seeing Will again, which was a huge part of the plot.
What was shown of the road trip, the places they went and the people they met, that was fun. I also liked the different reactions people had to Eva’s love of romance books. Some were accepting and encouraging but others looked down on it and it reminded me of the way some people look down on readers of YA or romance or really any genre they think is less than the genre they read. I loved that Eva stuck to reading what she liked no matter what.
There was also an underlying issue of dealing with grief through the whole book. Eva lost her father in a plane crash a few years ago and the plan had never been recovered. There were constant messages on a board for family of the victims with new information and the way the families all felt about it. Eva and her mother had such different views on it and different ways of coping. The way their grieving was handled and Annie were definite highlights of the book.
Overall, it was a quick read and I’m sure I would have liked it more if there had been more focus on Eva and Annie’s friendship instead of a romance I never bought into from the start.