Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help. When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil. As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?
How to Keep a Boy from Kissing YouFeatured
From the moment Aurora catches her next-door neighbor, Hayden, spying on her, it is easy to guess at what’s to come. Because of this and the fact that it takes so long for the inevitable to finally happen, the plot can be a bit exhausting. I found myself wanting to skim over chapters to get to the big reveal, especially since the basic storyline is one that has been told many times over. Likewise, some of the dialogue, mostly in the first half of the book, felt inauthentic in that people do not talk that way. However, coupled with some outrageous stock characters, this did give the book a parodic feel.
With that being said, I still enjoyed reading the story. There were many moments that I laughed out loud, my favorite being the repetitive bra burning bit. Providing additional comedy was the clever use of Much Ado About Nothing as a foil device, which also helped build the tension between Aurora and Hayden. Even though Eglington introduced many characters, she made each of them distinctive and relevant, expertly weaving b- and c- subplots. Most fun though, intentional or not, was that the book seemed to be a throwback to cult classic, Clueless (1995), which certainly ruled my childhood and many others. Thus, HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is pure entertainment and a perfect read for those needing a good chuckle.
The book is very cute and I loved Hayden and Aurora's relationship- it was a very, very slow build (I wanted to shake her and tell her the obvious at times)! The book also deals with her absentee and neglectful mother, who left years ago to get some space and only visits Aurora to convince her to go into modeling. Her father, the NAD, is doing his best, but Aurora knows the mother-daughter relationship is important (though she learns to stand up for herself by the end).
Aurora has a funny voice and accurately portrays a somewhat mature (but in other ways naïve) 16-year-old with some accuracy. It's a fun and light-hearted romantic read, great for younger teens (clean and straight-forward- you won't find more than a kiss). I found it somewhat reminiscent of "Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging," but better for an even younger crowd (though even as an adult, I found this to be a fun read)!
Please note that I received an egalley of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.