Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Publisher Review: Confessions of a Serial Kisser

by Wendelin van Draanen. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Find more information about the title at the publisher's website, here.

(First, a word about publisher reviews.)

Evangeline is looking for something, and she's not sure what until she trips on a romance novel of her mother's, and reads about crimson kisses. That is it, she thinks, she needs that passion. Reading a self-help book on living your dream makes her convinced that she should just go for it, and she does.

She's not necessarily finding what she's after, though, and instead of finding passion and romance, finds herself in a mess. Her reputation is taking a hit, her best friend gets angry with her, and more than one of the guys she's tried out as a kisser is unthrilled with the aftermath. Now she has to try to figure out a way to clean up this mess, not to mention figure out what went wrong in the first place.

Add to that the fact that her mother seems to be willing to take back her father after a separation, while Evangeline is holding onto her anger, but feels like she can't talk to anyone about that. And the fact that her grades are slipping as she becomes preoccupied by everyone except school. It's beginning to get desparate, when she gets some help and support from a few directions, has an epiphany of her own, and begins to get things back on track. Somehow, the crimson kiss seems less important, and she finds herself looking for something more realisitc, but just as exciting in the end.

I was curious to see how van Draanen would do teen chicklit - I have enjoyed her middle grade Sammy Keyes mysteries and the novel Flipped, and thought she could do a character with a little more substance than the too-typical fluff-dwellers. She didn't disappoint - Evangeline has a strong base, even if she loses it for a while, and comes back to her senses in the end. She also has her own interests - van Draanen sprinkles the book liberally with references to blues rock, including bands and songs that she listens to, for she is a serious music lover. All of which make for a nice solid character and a message about being grounded and true to yourself that resonates without ever hammering to bring it home.

I really quite liked this one, both as a fun read and a fine example of the kind of girl you'd like other girls to see - fun, but sensible, cool, but smart. Good stuff, indeed.

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