Serious Kiss

Serious Kiss

4.1 18
by Mary Hogan

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One summer day, Libby and her best friend hatch a plan: Before their freshman year is over, they will each have a serious kiss. Libby even has the boy picked out. But Libby's too-crazy-to-believe parents have another plan: They're moving. To the middle of nowhere. Far from Libby's friends, all hope of a normal life, and kissing, serious or otherwise.



One summer day, Libby and her best friend hatch a plan: Before their freshman year is over, they will each have a serious kiss. Libby even has the boy picked out. But Libby's too-crazy-to-believe parents have another plan: They're moving. To the middle of nowhere. Far from Libby's friends, all hope of a normal life, and kissing, serious or otherwise.

Just when things are completely falling apart, Libby starts to wonder, Is being happy really about a perfect plan? And if she stops planning, could that be the key to happiness — and to a perfect, incredible, wonderful, serious kiss?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this uneven first novel, Libby's dysfunctional family suddenly moves from its Chatsworth, Calif., home to a trailer park in the desert town of Barstow, and the 14-year-old narrator must quickly say goodbye to her best friend and former life-without getting a chance to have her dream "serious kiss" with popular Zach Nash. But in the hot desert, living next door to a grandmother she thought was dead, she begins to realize she isn't "so alone after all," especially when she makes a new offbeat best friend and boyfriend. Libby's family doesn't move until nearly halfway through the book, and readers may find the sudden change in plot direction jarring. Hogan creates some memorable moments, as Libby learns to enjoy life in the desert (eating burritos with a friend at a restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks, or learning about Barstow's plant life from another friend), but some of the author's flourishes, such as the trailer her grandmother lives in, which she converted into "one big, gleaming, air-conditioned kitchen," come across as bizarre. Because comical details such as these mix with serious themes, often addressed in a preachy tone (such as Libby's father's alcoholism: "Alcohol stole my father from me. It replaced him with a man who was mean to my mother and made our whole family feel like hiding"), readers may feel off-balance. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Libby and her best friend lie in the sun, toasting themselves and discussing the burning question of whether freshman year in high school will bring their first "serious kiss." But this urgent matter soon fades as Libby learns that her father's drinking has cost him his job and that the family is moving to the desert town of Barstow, California, to live near the grandmother she never knew she had. After her first, horrified reaction, Libby discovers the advantages of starting over. Her new friend Barbara, overweight and acne-ridden, is not at all daunted by the cool kids' taunts. And then there is the dark and dangerous-looking Warren. Is that serious kiss about to happen after all? This novel plows no new ground, but its reiteration of familiar material is stylish, humorous, and often poignant. The dynamics of a family with an alcoholic parent are clearly presented, as Libby comes to see how her father's illness has affected each family member. Residents of Barstow might not appreciate the bleak picture of their town, but it is an accurate image of Libby's internal landscape. Her growing appreciation of the desert mirrors the growth of hope that change may occur, even if only for Libby herself. The appealing cover with a Chihuahua, family pet Juan Dog, sporting a lipstick kiss on his face, will attract browsers. Readers in troubled families will appreciate the honesty of the author's portrayal. Those looking for a love story will find that and more in this worthy effort that is a cut above. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005,HarperCollins, 256p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—Kathleen Beck
Children's Literature
What 14-year-old girl does not dream about falling in love, for real that is? Well, Libby and her friend Nadine are no different. They are dreaming about that very thing. One summer day they vow to experience their first serious kiss with a boy and to fall in love. This vow turns out to be more complicated than expected, particularly for Libby. In addition to dealing with the infinitely perplexing world of boys and romance, she faces many challenges at home with her alcoholic father and overeating mother. Overall, the book is chocked full of teenage angst and heavy-handed family issues, not to mention the trauma of moving to a new home and a new school. There is a lot going on here, and the book definitely zeroes in on issues that teenagers face. However, as always, parents would be wise to review the book first before deciding to let their children read it, particularly their 12 and 13year-old readers. 2005, HarperCollins, Ages 12 up.
—Sheree Van Vreede
Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Libby's first-person narration of her trials and tribulations starts off gratingly but becomes likable two-thirds of the way through. Libby's screwy family includes a mother more likely to say "dinneroo" than "dinner" and an older brother who hides cigarettes in his hair; worse, no one sees her, her father's an alcoholic, and family dysfunctions go unacknowledged. Lamenting that "everything awful happen[s] to me," Libby's yanked out of her small town and moved to a Barstow trailer park (surprise: it's a retirement home!) next door to an unknown woman (surprise: it's her grandmother!). Far away from her old best friend (and co-conspirator in getting a "serious kiss" from a boy), Libby forms a new life in the tiny desert town. Dad's alcoholism hits bottom and rehab ensues; Libby's tone shifts, thankfully, from an overdramatic annoyedness to an open realness. The serious kiss comes in a wonderful final chapter containing a rare gift: a supremely satisfying last sentence. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.46(h) x 0.91(d)
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Serious Kiss

By Mary Hogan


Copyright © 2005 Mary Hogan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060722081

Chapter One

My dad drinks too much and my mom eats too much, which pretty much sums up why I am the way I am: a knotted mass of anxiety, a walking cold sweat. Three weeks ago, when I entered my fourteenth year of existence, I realized the only stable, solid truth in my universe: Being me isn't easy.

"Dinneroo!" Mom yelled down the hall like she always yells down the hall each night as she comes home from work. Her perfume instantly gave me a headache. The slamming of the front door and the jingle of her car keys woke Juan Dog. Yip. Yip.

"In a sec!" I yelled back, but I didn't move a muscle. Dinner scares me. In fact, all meals and most salty snacks freak me out. They trigger an inner horror movie: Attack of the Killer Fat Cells. It's not that I hate food. I love it. What's better than hot bread slathered in melted butter? Or Doritos with an extra blast of nacho flavor? My mouth is watering just thinking of it. But, given my genetics - Mom's size has never even come close to my age and Dad wouldn't need any padding to play Santa Claus - I realize that letting my guard down, even once, is an invitation for my fat cells to puff out like blowfish. I'm definitely pre-fat. And food is simply too hard to control, too easy to send your whole life careening out of control. So,when Mom called me for dinner, I ignored my growling stomach, lifted the phone back to my ear, wiggled my shoulder blades into the comfy warm groove of my bed, and kept talking to my best friend, Nadine.

"So what'd he say? Then what'd you say? Uh-huh. Then what'd he say?"

Through my closed bedroom door I heard one of my brothers playing with his Game Boy. "Get him! Get him! Get him!" I smelled the Mickey D fries Mom had brought home.

"Dirk!" Mom yelled. "Dinnerooney!"

My eleven-year-old brother, Dirk, is three years younger than me, but light-years from maturity. He's not what you'd ever call a high achiever. He's forever stalling for time, saying "Huh?" scratching his nose, and slurping back the pool of drool that builds up behind his hanging lower lip. Juan Dog the Chihuahua is almost my age, which, in dog years, means he's like ninety-eight. Juan is what you'd call high-strung. He yaps so much he levitates his tiny, quivering body all the way off the floor.

"Dirk!" Mom shouted. "Shake your fannywannydingo!" Did I mention my mother adds cutesy suffixes to words? She thinks it's youthful and snappy. I happen to know it's too embarrassing for words. One time, about a month ago, she called Juan Dog's business a poopadilly. Outside - in front of everybody.

Mom pounded on my bedroom door. "You still on that thing?" Like she hadn't clicked in on the extension twice already.

"Dinner's on the table."

"I'll be off in a minute!" I said. Then to Nadine: "So what'd he say?"

"Rif!" Mom screeched. "Where the heck is Rif?"

That was a no-brainer. Rif, my sixteen-year-old brother, is never around. He hides cigarettes in the tight curls of his ash-blond hair. When no one is in smelling distance, he lights up, takes a long slow drag, then smothers the end with two spit-wet fingers and tucks the cigarette back into his hair.

"Who needs a nicotine patch?" he says. "I got my own method." Whatever that means. One time, about a year ago, the right side of Rif's head started smoldering when he sat in the family room watching MTV. Mom was like, "Call the fire department!" Dad was like, "Isn't there a football game on?" My parents have never seemed like they belong together. And I've never, ever felt like I belong in this family.

"Now, Elizabeth," Mom pounded my door one last time. I groaned. "I gotta go, Nadine," I said into the phone. "E-mail me later?" "Yeah. Later."

I hung up, fluffed my flattened hair, and walked down the hall to the kitchen. Rif slithered in behind me smelling of burned hair gel.

"It's Libby, Mom," I said, rolling my eyes.

"Whatever," she said, rolling her eyes right back at me. Mom shoved a stray strand of her cottony overbleached hair back into the cat fight she calls a hairstyle. She tugged on her too-tight orange skirt, applied a new layer of magenta lipstick over the faded old one, removed black eyeliner goop from the corners of her green eyes, and tottered around the kitchen on spiked heels way too high for a woman of her age and heft. I'm not talking stare-at-you-in-the-mall quantities of fat, but my mother definitely hasn't seen her feet, or how sausage-like they look shoved into those strappy high heels, for quite a while. It's hard to believe I came out of this person. My hair is long and brown and shiny. My eyes are blue. I've never worn any makeup, unless you consider Vaseline lip gloss.

My brother Rif once graded my looks a "C."

"Who asked you?" I asked, visibly hurt.

"What's wrong with a 'C'?" he protested. "It's average!"

Which hurt even more. Who wants to be average? Mom stepped in for support.

"With a little makeover, honey, I'm sure I could turn you into a 'B.'"

Like I said, being me isn't easy. Isn't your own mother supposed to think you're an "A" even if you're not? While I'm at it, aren't your parents supposed to set a good example? I'm not saying that my mom and dad are bad influences - it's just that they haven't exactly set the family bar very high. I can't remember the last time I saw my mother pick up a book or my father put down the remote control. Mom's idea of the perfect family vacation is Las Vegas, primarily for the cheap all-you-can-eat buffets. Dad dreams of staying home alone with several six-packs while we all go somewhere that has no cell service. Once, he actually said to me, "You know what the worst thing about having kids is? They're always there."


Excerpted from The Serious Kiss by Mary Hogan Copyright © 2005 by Mary Hogan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mary Hogan grew up near the beaches of Southern California (Bikinis! Aargh!), but currently lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Axel. She is the author of Perfect Girl, The Serious Kiss, Susanna Sees Stars, and Susanna Hits Hollywood.

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4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was enjoyable. I would consider this book as a "quick read" and it taught me so much about what is going on in a teenager's life.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the characters are relatable but the story line is really lacking....well maybe cuz the title waz alittle waz in fact about a serious kiss but onlii slightly......srry didnt really like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good, and at the same time funny. It taught me that no matter where you go, there is always someone there who is going to love you for who you are. It really does deserve to be read. I mean where else are you going to find a funny love story? (That was a joke) So this girl and her friend are in high school and have never had a serious kiss. You know the one that makes your eyes flutter and your knees tremble? Well, they both agree that they are going to get that kiss this schoool year. Things are going not very well when they take a turn. The guy that the main character wants to seriously kiss asks to tutor her. She happily accepts only to go home and realize that they are moving. She has to go without saying goodbye. When she moves there she knows no one, and they are in the middle of nowhere. She finally meets a friend, and a GUY! By this time her other friend has moved on and already gotten her serious kiss. So, this guy likes her, and she likes him. They start going out. He takes her out to eat, then she takes him out. Until she for some reason stops being near him. So she lives her life without him, but will they ever get back together, or will they keep on living their lives without eachother? I guess you'll have to read it to find out...
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book. i read it twice and even gave it to my friend to read. it taught me a lot about life, and how to love, even when it seems it the hardest time not to :]
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is pretty funny. i liked it because it was different yet good. Her sitution is werid but funny the way it plays out. Her 'serious kiss' gets interesting so read the book and laugh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it was Great, although i wish i could have seen what happened with Libby and Zach Nash. O well it was still great and very funny!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic!! I read it for a school assignment & I acutally liked doing it because of this book! This book was sure a page turner for me, so if you havn't read it I seriously think you should!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a SERIOUSLY disappointing book and if you are reading, and enjoying it, I pity you. Libby is supposed to be 14 but she's acting 3.If you are thinking of buying this I strongly suggest you don't and save $20.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read ALL the time and I'm telling you, this book is GREAT.I'm 15, and I used to wonder wuz up with these authors??? They think we all want to be princesses or rich b's!! Finally, this is a book that a real kid can love. It's funny and honest. I want a sequel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fourteen-year-old Libby has drama to spare--she's moving to a new town with her totally dysfunctional parents. Libby's convinced that life would be easier if she could just find a guy and snag a serious kiss...but she has NO idea how complicated her life is about to get. You'll be rooting for her all the way to the end!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved the book! i thought it was great! i told all my friends about it and now they are reading it and they love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVE this book. My mom bought it for me because she read a review in some magazine. It's real...not some fluff piece about rich girls who lead ridiculous lives. And, it's funny, too. I totally recommend it to anyone.