Acclaimed writer Margo Rabb’s Kissing in America is “a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls,” raves internationallybestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).
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 can relate to Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California with barely any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her first shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast. 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.
Since publication, this novel received 4 starred reviews and has been named:
A Chicago Public Library Best Teen Book of 2015
A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens 2015
A Miami Herald Best Book of the Year
A Spirit of Texas selection
A TAYSHAS High School Reading List Selection
An Oprah Summer Reading List selection
A Junior Library Guild selection
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
A Publisher’s Lunch 2015 Buzz Book for Young Adults
Margo Rabb is an acclaimed novelist whose debut, Cures for Heartbreak, was hailed by critics and young readers alike. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, and One Story, and have been broadcast on NPR. She received the grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in the Atlantic fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. Margo grew up in Queens, New York, and has lived in Texas, Arizona, and the Midwest; she now lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.
Kissing in America 4.1 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Eva Roth's father died two years ago. She tells everyone it was the result of a heart attack because the real answer--that he died in a plane crash--is too sensational and messy. No one asks more questions about a heart attack.
Eva's father was always the one who understood her, the one she'd sit with and write. In his absence Eva feels more friction than anything else when it comes to her women's studies professor mother--something her mother suspects is at the root of Eva's love of romance novels.
When Eva meets Will Freeman it seems like she might have found someone who really understands. Someone who can possibly help her to move past her grief. Until he moves away.
Afraid of losing Will and everything he promises, Eva and her best friend Annie Kim make a plan to travel across the country to find Will again. Along the way Eva and Annie will see unexpected pieces of the country and learn some surprising things about love in Kissing in America (2015) by Margo Rabb.
Kissing in America is Rabb's followup to her YA debut Cures for Heartbreak. This novel treads similar territory as Eva tries to find her way through grief and her teen years. Although it is often touted as a light romance and a summery read, this story is filled with melancholy and very much mired in Eva's grief.
Rabb's writing remains superlative and evocative. Eva's love of poetry also plays out in the novel with references to and poems from Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Nikki Giovanni, Marie Howe, and other authors add another layer to this story. While this book is marketed as a romance, it is really Eva's relationship with her best friend and with her mother that makes Kissing in America shine.
Eva's mother in an interesting character who is a vocal feminist and a women's studies professor. She terms Eva's love of romance novels as a rebellion which never quite rings true as the romance genre is one where women are able to dominate the market and a genre that is often referenced for its feminist elements and even promoting female equality. That this never comes up in the story remains a frustrating omission.
Kissing in America is a thoughtful and witty road trip story about best friends, family, grieving and, of course, love. Recommended for readers looking for a smart read that will have them smiling through the tears.
Possible Pairings: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood, Black and White by Paul Volponi, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
More than 1 year ago
It was okay.
More than 1 year ago
I LOVE IN THE BOOK!!!!
More than 1 year ago
If you're not currently reading this book or getting ready to read this book you are literally and absolutely insane! Or dead because that's totally another plausible option.
Kissing in America is one of the most mature YA books I've read in a long time - and yes I say that knowing full well that the main character, Eva goes all the way to California by bus to see a boy she's kissed once. But this story captures the magic that is young love - it makes you brave, it makes you daring, it makes you feel like the craziest and the Smartest Girl In America all at once. It's fun, exciting and I'd have to be a liar to claim that the writing in this novel was anything less than on point.
The novel stars Eva, a smart, poetry loving girl still grieving over the loss of her father two years ago. Eva and her father did almost everything together and now that he's gone Eva can't help but feel like her life's reached a stand still. Her mother has briskly moved on and Eva feels like she's been left dragging behind, trying to hold together the pieces of her grief. But then she meets Will.
Okay now I know what your thinking. But this isn't one of those stories where a girl meets a guy and everything about her world suddenly changes for the better.
Okay, thats not true - this totally is.
When Eva meets Will she the pain of her father's death no longer becomes a forefront of her life. Will's presence, his promise of love, comfort and human connection, provide Eva with something she's been missing in her life for a very long time. And that's okay. Nowadays it such a stigma to have a heroine depend so much on another person - particularly a guy. But sometimes falling for someone and learning to depend on someone can help make life all the more bearable. It can help make you brave. And to be honest, at the start of the novel Eva needs a little bravery. But when Will suddenly moves away Eva is devastated and with the help of her equally smart and crazy best friend Annie, the two girls convince their families to let them go on a game show called, you guessed it - The Smartest Girl in America. Which Eva, of course uses as an excuse to go after Will in California.
What follows in a wonderfully written coming of age story about a girl trying to heal from devastation in a way that forces her to step out of her comfort zone and experience life and love in the way that she's always wanted to. It's touching, heart-wrenching and may just be one of the best books I've read all summer. I won't promise any happy endings but Kissing in America is definitely worth the read.
More than 1 year ago
Do not be fooled by the innocuous title: Kissing in America is as real as it gets. It has been two years since the tragic death of her father, and yet 16-year-old Eva Roth is still reminded of him every day. To cope with the pain, Eva has turned to an unlikely ally: romance novels, where happy endings are never questioned. While she finds comfort in her fantasies, devouring romance novels and drinking poetry in her spare time, Eva can’t imagine actually finding true love in real life. Enter Will, the cute, popular, older guy who finds in Eva something he can’t find in anyone else: true honesty, and the ability to talk with someone who understands grief. Just when it seems love may finally be on the horizon, Will announces he and his family are moving, from New York to California. Desperate to continue their love story, Eva decides she must find a way out West, and soon stumbles upon the ticket that will get her there: an academic game show contest in LA, with a $200,000 cash prize. Accompanied by her best friend Annie, the two girls begin an epic cross-country road trip that will teach them everything about friendship, life, and the secrets of love, set against the backdrop of the great American West. Combining themes of travel, poetry, friendship and love, Rabb weaves a beautiful and emotional tale of what it means to lose in life, and what it means to live. Eva Roth is the heroine we’ve all been waiting for: laugh-out-loud funny, brave, honest, and real. Kissing in America will undoubtedly unleash the hopeless (or hopeful?) romantic in anyone, whether they admit to it or not.