Reactions – Kissing in America by Margo Robb

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.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll see I’ve written about this book and how obsessed I was while reading it. The synopsis of this book does not do it justice as it is a story that transcends a simple “will they or won’t they.” What I don’t understand is why this isn’t on everyone’s Best of 2015 list and being talked about everywhere.

Strongly reminiscent of Sharon Creech’s Bloomability (a book that has had an incredibly profound influence on me going on 15+ years), I fell deeply in love with this book’s deft handling of grief, poetry, female relationships, and mother/daughter issues. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve spent years admiring the words of Adrienne Rich, e.e. cummings, and Elizabeth Bishop (shout-out to AP Lit in high school for that last one!); however, how brave and noble for a YA author to dive so deeply into these poems while still making them engaging, thematically relevant, and so strikingly emotional. The prose was stunning, and the story itself was somehow both heart-breaking and healing. I am going to read this book again and again.

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