Kissing in America is not really a book about kissing. It’s a book about grief, love, travel, friendship, and forgiveness. It’s about being a smart girl. It’s about having dreams that don’t always come true. It’s a great road trip novel.
It has been two years since her father died in a plane accident and sixteen-year-old Eva has found solace in reading romance novels. Her fantasies look like they might become reality when she meets Will, a boy who understands Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, no sooner does the romance heat up, but he moves to California. Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct an elaborate plan to travel across the country. As they travel, news about the crash begins to emerge, renewing wounds that never really healed.
Complicating the dynamic are Eva’s mother and aunt. They are the children of Holocaust survivors, and deal with this legacy in ways that add tension and texture to these relationships as well as the process of grieving. What is most satisfying about this book: All the characters are authentic and flawed as well as likeable. The reader will cheer for everyone. The ending does not disappoint.
Eva’s journey is more than a coming of age. It’s more than the stages of grief. It’s more than t’shuvah. It is a story of all these things. And yes, it’s also about kissing.
Highly recommended for readers 12 and up.