21 January 2013

Review: Kiss Me Again by Rachel Vail

Life for Charlie Collins, "approximately fifteen years old," has been turned totally upside down. She kissed Tess's boyfriend and Tess stopped talking to her, her mother just got remarried and the step-family has moved in, and her new stepbrother is, well, the boy she kissed. Charlie wonders how long she can remain hidden in her bedroom and how she can avoid Kevin now that he's moved into the room down the hall.

 Kiss Me Again, by Rachel Vail, is told from Charlie's perspective and begins on the day of the big wedding. She has spent most of her life alone with her mother, but from this day forward she has siblings and a live-in father. It's a lot for a ninth-grader to deal with, but the situation is complicated by her feelings for Kevin.

A few things make this story a winner. First, it's hard not to fall for Charlie, who is a good kid but not unrealistically perfect. She's often unsure of herself and struggles with wanting to fit in even when she doesn't always like the other girls' behavior. She is also caught between stages of growth: one minute giggling about silly things and the next truly concerned about the welfare of her young stepsister.

Although Kiss Me Again deals with some serious issues--such as blended families, the nature of friendships, and learning to put the greater good before selfish wishes--Vail helps us and younger readers see the funny side of things. In one scene, Charlie loses all dignity at the dinner table after she spills water, drops a knife, and bangs her head: "In all it was forty-five seconds of the Charlie Freaks Out Show." It was a laugh-out-loud moment.

Not everything in Charlie's life can be glossed over with laughter, of course, but Vail doesn't dwell on the negative. For example, when Tess behaves badly, we're aware of it as something Charlie must eventually recognize, but mean girls are not at the center of the novel.

Kiss Me Again would be a great book club choice for girls aged thirteen to fifteen. Topics of discussion include how to deal with manipulative friends, what it's like to be part of a blended family, and how to know what kinds of information you should share with others what you should keep to yourself. I didn't find a reading group guide for the novel, but I think teens would find plenty to talk about. 

Only after I finished reading the book did I realize that Kiss Me Again is a sequel. Vail first introduces Charlie and Kevin in If We Kiss. Don't let that stop you from reading Kiss Me Again; I never felt at a loss for background information.

Quick take: Rachel Vail's Kiss Me Again is a sweet story of how fifteen-year-old Charlie learns to cope with change, gains self-confidence, and matures just a tiny bit.

This post will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Buy Kiss Me Again at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
HarperCollins / Harper Teen, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780061947179
Rating: B

Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


rhapsodyinbooks 1/21/13, 7:28 AM  

This sounds really good. I like the blended family aspect. But why oh why has yet another author opted for a confusing protagonist name?!!!

Allison Vaughn 1/21/13, 9:31 AM  

I have done that before, read a sequel before realizing it WAS a sequel. I love books like that, that can stand alone on their own.

This sounds pretty good and I will have to check it out.

Book Reviews

Sheila (Bookjourney) 1/21/13, 10:21 AM  

I like the sound of this one. We need a YA read for our book club in March, I may recommend this one.

bermudaonion 1/21/13, 11:52 AM  

This sounds good and probably true to life for a lot of kids these days.

Zibilee 1/21/13, 1:56 PM  

I bet my daughter would love this one, and if I got it for her, then I could sneak it away when she is done with it and read it for myself! This was a great review, and I think the book sounds really relevant and like lots of fun.

Daryl 1/22/13, 8:46 AM  

perfect for my friend's daughter ... thanks!

Jenners 1/22/13, 8:36 PM  

Oh that would be quite the dilemma … to be in love with your stepbrother! I'm sure it happens though.

Julie P. 1/23/13, 3:50 PM  

Seriously, this one sounds absolutely perfect for Booking Daughter -- right up her alley! Thanks!

Suko 1/26/13, 1:48 PM  

This sounds like a very good book, with believable characters. Your concise review is excellent, Beth!

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