Kissing in America
By Margo Rabb
Harper, 2015. 391 pgs. Young Adult Fiction
Sixteen-year-old Eva Roth loves romance novels, much to the chagrin of her mother who is a women's studies professor and staunch feminist. Eva considers herself a feminist too, but ever since her father’s death she finds comfort in the predictably happy endings of romance novels. Then one day Will walks into Eva’s tutoring session, and Eva finds herself in what seems to be a romance novel come to life. Forced apart by Will’s sudden move to the West coast, Eva is determined to see him again. So, Eva and her best friend, Annie, set off on a cross country journey that will teach them about themselves and about the complexities of love.
My favorite aspect of this book was the author’s ability to weave together so many female characters at different stages in their relationships. There’s Eva who is experiencing her first love and her mother who is contemplating a second marriage, but there’s also the secondary cast of characters who Eva and Annie meet on their journey – Eva's aunt who is afraid of relationships, the Roth's family friend who's having a baby, Eva's potential step grandmother who has been married for years, etc. I liked that Rabb brought all of these characters together to portray love in a more substantial way than I’ve seen before in YA novels. And of course, not all relationships are romantic; In the end, Eva learns just as much about her relationship with mother as she does about her relationship with Will. I thought that message was very moving, and that this was an overall great read.