Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kissing In America by Margo Rabb

Kissing In America by Margo Rabb
Release Date - May 26, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
The title Kissing In America may immediately think of romance. This is a story about love, but not necessarily the romantic kind. A story that will surprise you at every turn, and one that makes you so appreciative for all the female role models in your life.

Eva's immediate infatuation with Will may seem sudden. She's willing to trek across America to see him again after some sweet words and kisses. As a teenager every connection feels vital. Every crush feels much more deeper than it really is. Add to her age the fact that she is grieving and this makes more sense. She's incapable of reconnecting with her father, but she can do something about Will. The romance element is startlingly realistic. This isn't some magical romance, and in the end that is not even what the story is about. It's just the surface.

The road trip itself is also quite realistic. There is no fancy flying and hotels for two teenage girls. It's buses, family and family friends all the way. This adds an element to it that made the entire story feel more authentic. Too often we get the 'wish fulfilment' side to these types of stories, and while those can be incredibly fun, a more realistic take was refreshing.

Annie is the type of best friend you can only hope for. She's supportive, forgiving and caring. She's there for Eva whenever Eva needs her. Their friendship is a highlight of the novel as so much of the story revolves around them and their trip across America. Even through troubled times you never doubt that they would be there for each other and that is the heart of any friendship.

The travel element will ignite a desire to take a road trip of your own. The descriptions of the various places they visit bring them to life in a way that feels tangible. Plenty of research into this type of trip was done, and it pays off in the execution. The road trip is vital to the story, and Margo Rabb pulls it together effortlessly.

As much as this is a novel about love, it's also a novel about grief. We do not stop loving someone after their death, and that is something Eva has to struggle with. The ache of missing her father is still there through everything. The ways in which people grieve are examined, and how different they can be. Eva and her mother mourn their loss in different ways and neither takes into account that the other might be grieving differently. It's a poignant look at coming to terms with loss, even if it means learning to live with the ache that resides inside of you.

A story of love in all it's forms. A love of a mother and child. The love between two best friends. The love that exists in sisterhood. This is a love story to women, and their bonds. A novel that shows love in all it's forms as valid, important and worth striving for. A road trip filled with friendship, supportive women, and finding yourself. 

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