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Read an Excerpt
Don't Kiss the Messenger
Edgelake High School
By Katie Ray, Jenn Mishler
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Katie Ray
All rights reserved.
As I followed a line of students up the stairs of the administration building I started to note the double takes and neck swivels in my direction. I passed two girls heading toward me, and one of them, sporting blonde hair with the ends dyed a washed-out blue, caught sight of my face and faltered. She grabbed her friend's arm as if she had gone weak.
"Oh my God," Blue Hair said, loudly enough that her friend and I and half the campus could hear.
I paused for a moment to give her a good look at the right side of my face. It wasn't the place for a lesson in manners, so I opted for my death glare, which had been known to instill terror in the cockiest of freshman volleyball recruits.
I summoned my best serial killer voice. "You should see the other girl's face."
Blue Hair's eyes widened. I gave her another hard shove with my eyes before she grabbed her friend's arm and hurried down the steps. I turned and headed for the entrance doors, careful not to make eye contact with anyone else, determined to ignore the piercing stares, bruising comments, and all the weapons the world could brandish.
Despite the mob of students milling inside the building, the lobby space felt unusually peaceful. A baby grand piano stood in the corner of the room under a glass-roofed atrium. The musician was playing something classical. I stopped and glanced at an easel by the door that read "Student Wellness Initiative. Co-sponsored by the Health Services and Edgelake Music Department." The piano piece sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. Not enough notes for Mozart, not tragic enough for Beethoven. I knew Shazam didn't work on live music — no embedded RIAA code — but I surreptitiously pulled out my phone anyway and recorded a few seconds of the song. Maybe I could identify it later.
Before I turned, a crowd of students parted and I briefly glimpsed the musician's hands. His long, supple fingers moved expertly over the keys. I could see the tendons in his tanned forearms working to make the music sound effortless.
My phone suddenly buzzed, jolting me back to my reason for being here. I pulled it out of my pocked and glanced at the screen reminder — my first class of fall semester was beginning in two minutes.
The piano player had started another song. This one I recognized as Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Morning sunlight fell through the atrium ceiling, illuminating the room like a cathedral. I felt a sudden surge of the despair that I usually held at bay. It must be the Beethoven.
I wove through a maze of hallways until I found Honors Shakespeare. Even science-minded students like me had to take six credits of literature, and I'd already read some of Shakespeare's plays freshman year.
I walked into a small discussion room with three long tables set up in a
"U" formation. Choosing a seat was easy. I always sat at the far right end of the table nearest the door. All the other seats were across from me or to my left. It was easier if I let people get to know me a bit before I gave them a good look at the right side of my face. Or maybe it was just out of habit. The room filled up quickly. Most of the students seemed to know each other already. This was an honors-only class and most of the students were aspiring English professors. They probably already had acceptance letters to Ivy League schools.
"I know it's a tight squeeze," said the professor, identified on the syllabus as Dr. Sarah Watford. "They wanted to put us in a lecture hall, but I wouldn't let them. They offered to give us this meeting room. It's so much more intimate, isn't it?" She had a melodic voice, surprisingly low for such a tiny person. Her blonde hair fell slightly below her chin and had streaks of silver in it.
She began her introduction, starting with her teaching background, until the door creaked open and a student walked in. She stopped mid-sentence and stared at the intruder. I looked over and caught his brown hair as he turned, looking for an open seat. All of the chairs were taken.
He cleared his throat and mumbled an apology for being late. Watford spotted a stack of chairs in the corner of the room behind her podium.
"We're a little crowded in here," she said. She walked over and tried to tug a chair off the top of the stack but it was stuck.
"Here, let me," said Late Boy. He towered over her, broad shoulders flexing under his T-shirt as he pulled the chair off.
"You can sit at the end of the table," Watford said, and pointed in my general direction. I moved my books and coffee mug over to give him room, irritated by his intrusion into my space. I usually shifted my face so only my left profile was exposed, especially under the scrutiny of male eyes. But aside from shoving the hood of my sweatshirt around my face, I had no way to hide. Even my long, dark hair wasn't an option, uselessly constrained in a French braid.
Sitting down, he unzipped a canvas backpack and pulled out a notebook. It was a fancy one, bright orange and opening at the top instead of the side like my spiral-bound Mead. Out of his back pocket he pulled a mechanical pencil. Its metal casing gleamed. It looked heavy.
The professor interrupted my observations. "In case anyone else is lost, this is Honors Shakespeare. If you're not signed up to take Honors Shakespeare, you may want to leave now." A girl giggled. Someone shifted in their seat. No one left. Professor Watford began introducing herself again. The smooth alto tones faded into the background as I continued to watch Late Boy. He was writing something in his notebook. His head was bent over the page, light brown hair obscuring his face. He was left-handed. A regular spiral notebook would have been awkward.
"Now that I've told you a bit about me ..."
I had missed it all.
"... I'd like you to partner with the person next to you and take turns interviewing each other. Then we'll go around the room and you'll introduce one another."
* * *
I looked up from my notebook and raised my eyebrow at the teacher. She was going to make us do an icebreaker? In an advanced class?
The girl next to me shifted in her seat. When I looked over, my eyes were immediately drawn to a thick, puckered line that ran all the way down the side of her face, splitting past her cheek, nearly grazing her lips. It branched out in small, spider veins like the path of an intricate web. It was intriguing as hell, like staring at a bolt of lightning flashing against her skin.
I met her eyes — dark brown and impenetrable, with an air of confidence that bordered on hostile. I've been around a lot of athletes and they carry an arsenal of attitude. I'm used to these kinds of expressions on the field. But women don't usually look at me like this, putting up a Do-Not-Mess-With-Me force field.
She kept her eyes on mine, like this was some kind of a stare down and the first person to look away was a coward. I didn't even know this girl, but one thing was certain — she was a force you didn't want to mess with. I started to smile because her badass scar completely fit.
She looked surprised, like she wasn't used to drawing smiles out of strangers. I nodded in her direction.
"Ladies first," I said, after it was apparent she wasn't jumping at the chance to do an icebreaker. It took her off guard.
She raised her eyebrows. "Do I detect southern manners?" she asked.
"Does southern Pennsylvania count as the South?"
She leaned her head to the side.
"Why were you late?" she asked. "Freshman?"
"Transfer." I sounded more irritated than I intended. But I knew I didn't look like a damn scrawny-limbed freshman.
"Well, if being female wins me the coin toss, I guess I'll interview you first," she said.
"Who's your hero?" she asked.
I frowned just a little. "I thought we were covering the basics. You know? Name, major, hometown?"
"That's boring. If we have to engage in this ridiculous exercise, I'd at least like to ask real questions. Who's your hero?"
"My dad." The answer blew off my tongue before I could hold it back. This was the last place I wanted to bring up my dad. It wasn't an icebreaker. More like an ice generator.
She shook her head. "That doesn't count."
"I beg your pardon?"
"It needs to be a public figure," she clarified.
"Mike Reid," I said without hesitating.
"Mike ... Reid. I'm drawing a blank."
"He played football for the Cincinnati Bengals."
"Your hero is a pro football player?" she asked, sounding disappointed. And bored.
"In between seasons he was a concert pianist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After he retired from football he became a singer/songwriter."
This detail seemed to peak her interest. "You're a fan of football and music?"
"Yeah. A fan." I smiled, looking down as I fiddled with my pencil. I noticed she was staring at my arm, which I realized was invading her work space. I pulled it back, and she looked at me like she was struck with sudden déjà vu. She tilted her head back like she was trying to see me from a different angle.
"What?" I asked.
"Were you by any chance playing the piano in the atrium before class?"
Now I cocked my head to the side. "Yeah. We all have to do volunteer hours. I was getting mine over with before the season starts."
"The football season?" she guessed, and I nodded.
"Where did you transfer from?"
"You ask a lot of questions," I said.
"It's the standard interview process."
I smiled. "It's a small school in Pennsylvania. You wouldn't have heard of it. I wanted to stay close to home. And they had a decent football team."
"Then why did you transfer?" she asked.
"I didn't want to be close to home anymore."
I knew it was a cryptic answer. She waited for more, but I didn't offer up any details.
She tapped her fingers on her notebook, probably wondering why someone would transfer their senior year of high school. I noticed a red Adidas gym bag on the floor, next to her feet. I had the same one. They were only issued to student athletes.
I looked back at her, piecing a few things together. So she was an athlete. That explained her don't-fuck-with-me gaze.
"Time's up," Professor Watford interrupted us. "Who would like to begin?"
I leaned closer to her. "I don't know anything about you," I whispered.
She threw me a cocky smile, like she was daring me. "Make something up."
I smiled back, a scheming smile. Challenge accepted.
Professor Watford started with me. I cleared my throat, gearing up for my monologue.
"My partner prefers to be called by her nickname, Sparkles," I said. "She grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and she can't wait to go to college to pursue a major in Poultry Science."
I looked down at my notebook and pretended to refer to interview notes.
"Her favorite sport is cheerleading. Her hobby is body painting. She collects elephant figurines. Oh, and she's allergic to tree nuts," I added, carrying off my speech with the cheeky aplomb of someone who had just aced a public speaking class.
The class was quiet and a room of unbelieving eyes stared at us. The girl next to me cleared her throat and opened her mouth, probably to one-up me in the creative bullshit department when Professor Watford cut her off. She moved on to the next group of partners before she had a shot at retribution.
By the time we made it around the room, I had forgotten all the trite details about everyone's life. And that's when the other shoe dropped.
"Now you all know someone in the class, if you didn't already," Professor Watford announced. She went on dramatically, "This is a reading-intensive course. Each week, two people will be assigned to lead a class discussion. You have just become acquainted with your first discussion partner."
Her eyes turned directly to me and my newfound partner. "In the future, understand that all of my teaching methods, despite how trivial they may seem to some of you, have a purpose and will be taken seriously."
I looked down at my notebook and blew out a sigh. Great first impression.
I leaned over to the girl sitting next to me. I figured it was time to make amends. "Nice to meet you. I'm Emmett." I held out my hand. She stared down at it for a second, hesitating, and then cautiously extended her own. We shook, and it felt like a truce.
* * *
When class ended, Emmett scooted his chair back and shrugged his backpack over his shoulders. I grabbed my duffel bag as he walked out the door ahead of me.
"Hey," I said to his back once we were in the hallway. "You got me in trouble today."
I normally don't stalk after guys, especially the type of guys that were probably used to a female fan parade, but I had the habit of speaking my mind when someone irritated me. After all, if you don't call people out on their bullshit, you are just perpetuating a generation of assholes.
He turned and smiled widely, and I tried to appear unaffected by the way his smile hit me, like a drum banging in my chest. I was still trying to process the fact that this guy sitting next to me was playing classical music an hour ago.
"You told me to make stuff up," he said.
I frowned. "I wasn't expecting a creative writing essay," I said.
"Maybe you shouldn't have pinned me for a dumb jock here purely on a sport's contract."
I looked away, annoyed he completely read what I had been thinking. I couldn't shake the way he had studied me during the lecture. I had kept waiting for the usual expression of sympathy, or disgust, or awkward embarrassment to settle on his face. But he never looked put off, more thoughtful.
"If Watford docks my attendance grade because she thinks my name is Sparkles, I have you to blame," I said.
He shook his head. "Do you really think Professor Watford would do anything as conventional as take attendance?"
I turned away, a little at a loss for words. I had met enough football players to assume the terms quick and agile applied to muscles outside of their brains. People rarely surprised me, but in the last hour he had surprised me more times than I could count.
Emmett glanced down at my duffle bag. "So, I take it cheerleading isn't your sport?"
I could feel his eyes on me. It was unnerving. I wanted to turn his face away with the shove of my hand.
"You're pretty short for basketball or volleyball," he mused. "Maybe tennis? Or maybe you just like to smack the shit out of something. Golf?"
I narrowed my eyes, but it only made him grin. The smile lit up his face, especially his eyes, but I looked away before I could determine their exact shade.
At the exit he held the door for me. I stopped and regarded him before I walked through. He pressed his back against the door to keep it open.
"Did you learn that at cotillion?" I asked.
"I don't think they have cotillion classes in Harrisburg," he said.
"Then what is up with the southern gentleman act? It's a bit much for around here," I said.
"I was born below the Mason-Dixon line," he stated.
I walked through the door just as a train of women headed our way, leaving him holding the door for all of them. "I still didn't get your name," he called after me. I laughed in response and kept walking. I hoped he would be stuck holding the door all day. Let him pay the price for having excessive manners.
It was a beautiful late summer morning, a blue sky without a trace of clouds and crisp air that smelled like leaves and hinted at fall. The sun warmed my skin as I headed down the steps. I still felt unnerved, gripped by the urge to get away from Emmett's sight. He had already seen my scar — that wasn't it. Maybe I was uncomfortable with the fact that it didn't seem to affect him.
A ten minute walk took me to the slanting parking lot across from the looming Field House, a hundred-year-old arena. Tuba was waiting for me outside the stadium entrance. She was our starting setter, my house mate, and my best friend. Tuba's real name was Christine, but no one ever called her that just as no one ever called our middle hitter Mac by her real name, Molly, or our outside hitter VanBree by Vanessa.
"Bryn's starting today," she reminded me, her brown eyes filled with excitement at the prospect of our new offensive weapon. Bryn DeNeuville was a transfer, fresh off of summer training camp with Olympic coaches in La Jolla, California. I hadn't met Bryn yet, but I had seen game film. If she played half as well as she looked on tape, our team wanted to make her feel very welcome.
The familiar damp concrete smell invaded my nostrils as we made our way through the tunnels to the women's volleyball locker room.
The minute I set foot in the doorway I looked around the locker room for our new outside hitter. I had seen enough of Bryn's image on screen to vaguely recognize the new junior seated on the rug, one impossibly long leg stretched out in front of her and the other bent like a pretzel as she twisted across her perfectly muscled thigh.
Excerpted from Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray, Jenn Mishler. Copyright © 2017 Katie Ray. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a modern day retelling of the play by Edmond Rostand called Cyrano de Bergerac. I absolutely loved CeCe's character. As much as she hates it, I think the scar is part of what makes her who she is. Her parents and real friends feel the same way. She's intelligent, witty, fun, tough.. I'd love to be her friend. Emmett is a one of a kind dude too. He doesn't follow the jock stereotype that CeCe expects of him. Brynn has all the looks and no brains, and her beauty reels people in. With everything we know about CeCe, I don't know why she would have 'helped' Brynn to begin with. She didn't even like her, especially in the beginning. If it was one of her closer friends like Tuba? Maybe. But when it all started Brynn was a stranger. So, that part of it all didn't really match her personality. However, I completely understand why she got carried away with it and allowed it to go on as long as it did. ... even if I yelled at her a time or two. Overall, this was a fun group of characters. The story was fun and entertaining, and I read the it super fast. The author's writing was clever and addictive. If you enjoyed the movies Roxanne and The Truth About Cats and Dogs, you'll love this book! I'm looking forward to more in this series. The ARC of Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.
Don't Kiss the Messenger is a story told in dual perspective between our two main characters: CeCe Edmonds, a tough volleyball player who has learned to deal with unwelcome stares and comments after a car accident at the age of ten left her with a large facial scar, and Emmett Brady, a mysterious newcomer who plays football and has a passion for music. From there, this story takes an unexpected twist on a good ol' fashion love triangle, as Emmett struggles to figure out which girl he's falling for, and CeCe struggles to accept that anyone could be willing to move past the scar on her face. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it was fast paced and ridiculous, and the dialogue was just hip enough to be believable for two teenagers. I also found that the love triangle, while being one of the most cliche tropes in young adult, had enough twists and turns that it really pulled me into the story and kept me enthralled. However, I did have some really big issues with this book. Both branches of the love triangle were very insta-lovey, which I generally don't like to see in young adult literature as it just isn't how life goes, and it was overall very cringey and problematic (I can't say why without getting into spoilers, but if you've read it then you know what I'm talking about). Further, there were aspects of the book that dealt with mental health in a really awful way, and the mental health aspect was there for really no reason. In that way, I felt like this book was trying to do too much that just wasn't central to the plot. If there weren't so many side characters and B plots trying to compete at once for the reader's attention, then this book probably could have been much shorter and accomplished the same thing. As far as the mental health goes, I have two examples: First, there is a point where Cece is grappling with whether or not anyone will ever be able to look past her scar and love her for who she really is, and in her internal monologue it says "Who will ever want to take me out? Somebody full of scars? A masochist who cuts themselves because they get high off the pain?" This thought goes completely unchecked and is thrown out there with no real purpose, and no trigger warning, either. Another prime example of the misrepresentation of mental health in this novel comes in the form of a side character named Frank, who has a really minuscule part of the novel: Emmett frequents a music shop, and Frank is the cashier's younger brother. Despite the small nature of this part, Frank is given OCD and it's dealt with as if it were some quirky personality trait and not, you know, a serious illness. Here's some examples of that: "A side office door suddenly clicked open. It opened and closed a few times, like the hinges weren't working. I stared at the door, confused. 'It's his OCD,' Josh whispered to me. I nodded slowly. That explained the black gloves he always wore." as well as: "Frank was leaning uncomfortably against the wall. His hands were tucked protectively under his arms, as if making contact with anyone could contaminate his skin with a flesh-eating virus". All in all, this book is a fun read if you don't take it too seriously, and are able to move past the serious issues present in the story. As always, feel free to check out my blog for more bookish thoughts: bridixonreads.tumblr.com!
Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray is a YA contemporary re-telling of the play, Cyrano de Bergerac. In Ray’s novel, CeCe Edmonds (this version’s Cyrano) has been left with a large scar on her face after being in a car accident as a child. Teased and whispered about growing up, she has formed a hard and tough persona as her shield. Now a senior in high school, she’s never cared about her looks at least until the new transfer student, Emmett Brady, becomes her new literature critique partner. CeCe may be attracted to him, but to her dismay, he seems to have eyes for her beautiful volleyball teammate Bryn DeNeuville, who seems to clam up when talking to boys, specifically Emmett. So Bryn asks CeCe to help her talk to Emmett via emails and texts, which CeCe agrees to do. And just like in Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac this good deed definitely does not bode well for the players, especially as CeCe begins to fall more and more for Emmett, while he’s falling for the wrong girl! Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray follows Cyrano de Bergerac in regards to the highlights from the play like the deception, the love interest Emmett (Roxanne character) falling for the wrong person and not realizing who the messages are really coming from, and the ending with the revelation. So if you're familiar with Cyrano de Bergerac, the tale fits that well worn narrative, but Ms. Ray gives us a story filled with humor and characters who are both endearing and interesting, in their own modern setting and situations. While reading, I was completely reminded of the 1996 movie The Truth about Cats and Dogs with Janeane Garofalo and Uma Thurman. And just like with that movie that I loved, I felt Emmett really should have been able to tell the difference between CeCe and Bryn especially after talking with Bryn in person! The connection and chemistry between CeCe and Emmett was so palatable that it drove me crazy how CeCe was not telling Emmett the truth and how Emmett was completely blind to who really was the girl behind the emails and texts. All in all, Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray was a well-written novel, of a timeless tale, filled with romance, laughter, and learning to love oneself just as you are, no matter the outer shell. I happily recommend. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review.)
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray! Katie Ray has previously published works under the name of Katie Kacvinsky and her books have been popular with my library patrons. I believe that this new book of Katie's will be a popular read also. Don't Kiss the Messenger is a retelling of sorts. The story line is similar to the play, Cyrano de Bergerac where inner beauty overpowers outer beauty. This book is intelligent and eloquent in many ways, while still staying a young adult contemporary story! CeCe and Emmett take turns by alternating points of view throughout the book. CeCe has a scar on the right side of her face that she prefers to not be the focal point when she meets someone for the first time. Emmett is new to the school and a known high school football player. They both attend Honors Shakespeare class and are partnered on the first day. CeCe and Emmett share the trait of clever wit and they have tremendous similarities with their tastes in and knowledge of music and literature. They are both intense and dedicated athletes also; CeCe is the captain of the volleyball team and Emmett is the star quarterback. I love this book with its romantic gestures, self-esteem building thoughts and loyalty and friendship. 5 stars for this amazing realistic fiction read!
Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray.......What a fun sweet book that brought me back to my high school. This book hooked me from the beginning to the last word. I loved Emmett the new high school jock that is hot and a mystery. CeCe is beautiful inside and out, but has a scar on her face and doesn't date, thinking no one will like her for more than a friend. She is everything Emmett wants, but Bryn is in the way, will they figure it out before it is to late. I highly recommend this book. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book from publisher via NetGalley.
Don't Kiss the Messenger was an absolutely adorable, quick read. After reading that it is a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, I wanted to immediately go read the original. Cece is an incredibly smart, vivacious character. Captain of the varsity volleyball team at a school where sports are everything, she should be one of the most popular students at school. However, the large scar on her face from a childhood accident seems to define her to her classmates more than anything else. I loved how tough and resilient Cece was in general (with the exception of one scene where she was more of a bully). The glimpses we get of what lay beneath her hardened exterior really rounded her out as a character. Her developing relationship with Emmett was adorable. I was rooting for them from their very first interaction in English class. Emmett himself was another interesting character, the football player and musician. Both main characters were very well-developed and multidimensional. However, the secondary characters, particularly Bryn, weren't well-developed. I had a difficult time believing that Emmett seriously didn't at least have an idea that Bryn wasn't the girl he was messaging. I'm fully supportive of the messaging confusion plot in the book but Bryn really didn't have to be such an airhead. Very little time is spent on her athletic abilities or the training and determination it took to get her there. Instead, Cece is portrayed as the well-rounded person who is also an incredible athlete while Bryn is a shallow person who has no other thoughts than rating a guy's hotness. Other than one mention at the beginning, we don't really hear about her performance on the team. The main focus is on how gorgeous she is and how boys are incredibly attracted to her. The author does Bryn a disservice by not developing her more fully. Overall, this story was a quick and enjoyable read. I would recommend to fans of light YA contemporaries. *Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review from Entangled Publishing, so I’d like to say a huge thank you to the team there! CeCe is a teenage girl who is fierce, strong, and used to being stared at. With a scar on her face from a car crash when she was young, she has to deal with staring eyes and dumbfounded looks every day. Never did she imagine that the cute new football player would ever pay attention to her – not to mention hold a conversation with her. But, Emmett has his eyes on Bryn – the tall, dark, and irresistible new teammate on CeCe’s volleyball team. However, Bryn can’t hold a conversation with Emmett, so she asks CeCe to do it on her behalf. The summary of this book had me interested from the start – but when I actually dove into the story, I loved it even more! Katie Ray has built a story with wonderfully deep character development in just a short novel. CeCe is strong and puts a wall up around herself because she assumes no one will want to see past her scar. Emmett is cast as the handsome jock, but has another side devoted to lyricism and music. It is clear from the start that these two characters are meant to be together, but the actions and decisions that get them there are the fun part of this story. It is so emotional and well-written. CeCe starts to let her guard down to Emmett – and they are connecting on a deeper, more personal level – but she is behind the mask of the beautiful Bryn. I got just the right amount of frustration from this romantic story. I mean the kind of frustration where things just aren’t going the way you want them to, but they eventually end up there. Emmett just kept thinking that Bryn had a much deeper, philosophical side to her…but she just thought he was hot. That was literally it. Overall, I think CeCe and Emmett’s story was so adorable. I almost kept forgetting that they were high school students because the atmosphere of Edgelake High School is so college-esque. Ray has done a fantastic job with this story, and I would recommend this to anyone who loves romance!
I loved everything about Don't Kiss the Messenger! For me, this story was very much driven by the varied cast of characters. I loved that they weren't cast as ideals, but with the flaws and hangups that we all can relate to. CeCe Edmonds was in a devasting crash that left her scarred in what was probably the worst place for a girl/woman... her face. For her entire life, she had to endure the stares, the comments, even the outright cruel jeers. Eventually, she learned to cope by accepting it and herself as she was, dealing with it with a combination of humor and outright badassery. Emmett Brady is the new guy at school, popular and gorgeous. But he also has his own story and his own baggage. CeCe is instantly attracted to him, but does nothing about it because she knows there is no way someone like him would ever consider being more than friends with someone who looked like her. And this belief is solidified when he meets Bryn DeNeuville, the new girl. Bryn is CeCe's friend, but her polar opposite. Where CeCe is into interesting music and thought-provoking literature, Bryn is all about everything that is popular. And she has set her eyes on Emmett. The only problem? He seems to be the one guy she can't talk to OR relate to. So, she turns to CeCe to help her. It is Cyrano de Bergerac all over again, but modernized and set in the world of teenagers. There are emotional ups and downs, funny moments and sad. There were times when I wanted to jump into the book and talk some sense into one character or another. It is a story that really makes you think about love, relationships, friendships, real beauty, and what it means to be true to yourself. An amazing read!
"Don't Kiss the Messenger" was a sweet (albeit predictable) book about the misunderstandings and missteps of young love- in the style of Shakespeare. The book takes place at Edgelake, a combinating high school/college where the students live, attend classes, and compete on athletic teams. It's senior year, and CeCe is captain of the volleyball team. She is taking Shakespeare as an elective, and on the first day, she is paired up with the handsome new transfer the football team has been raving about- Emmett Brady. Later in the day, both are introduced to the gorgeous new transfer, Bryn, who is joining the volleyball team and can't stop turning heads. Bryn and Emmett immediately have a physical connection, but Bryn is too shy (and shallow) to understand/reply to Emmett's texts (and later emails). She recruits CeCe to help her and chaos ensues, as CeCe begins to fall in love with Emmett, and Emmett is falling in love with the person he thinks is Bryn. Emmett and CeCe are continuing to socialize, due to class and due to Bryn, but CeCe believes (due to her past experiences) that no one will be able to see past the huge scar on her face- or love her more because of it. The book reminded me quite a bit of Shakespearean comedies, and I have to assume this was the intent (due to the Shakespeare class peppered in the story). Overall, it was a fun and cute story that tackles the issues of physical insecurities (as we learn, not only CeCe has them) and what makes love- the substance of it. Bryn was a bit of a foil, as she was shallow and beautiful (pretty one-sided) and really only served as a marker for the opposite of CeCe/didn't really seem to be a developed character. It was a cute and predictable (although frustrating) love story, and overall, I really enjoyed it! I also really liked the science references/fun with chemistry, which was a cute touch. The book moves quickly and it was a fast read- a great summer/beachy read! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
4.5 out of 5 stars Don't Kiss the Messenger is a young adult contemporary read based on the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. As Cece tries convincing herself that she's only helping out her friend, Bryn win the new hot guy on campus she herself is slowly falling for Emmett who she doesn't believe would ever consider her due to physical imperfections. I enjoyed reading this cute read with likable characters. I do believe Cyrano would be proud of Cece with the antics Ms. Ray puts her through to finally realize she is worthy of love. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC.