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Kissing in America

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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.

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.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published May 26, 2015

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About the author

Margo Rabb

10 books158 followers
Margo Rabb is the author of the novels Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize, Kissing in America, Cures for Heartbreak, and the Missing Persons series. Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak both received four starred reviews; Kissing in America was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, and the American Library Association, and was named to the Amelia Bloomer Project’s List of Recommended Feminist Literature. Her essays, journalism, book reviews, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, Marie Claire, The Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, One Story, One Teen Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on NPR. She received the grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in The Atlantic fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. She’s received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Margo grew up in Queens, New York, and has lived in Texas, Arizona, and the Midwest; she now lives in the Philadelphia area with her family.

website: www.margorabb.com
Instagram: @margo_rabb
Twitter: @margorabb

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5 stars
683 (18%)
4 stars
1,230 (32%)
3 stars
1,269 (34%)
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130 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 713 reviews
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,089 reviews6,596 followers
February 13, 2017
Firstly, I just want to thank Penguin for sending my workplace an ARC for us booksellers to read!
I've seen a couple of negative reviews of this book on goodreads and all I can think is, Did we read the same book? I thought this book was absolutely hilarious, honest and exhilarating to read! I loved every moment of it. I knew I was going to love it because I was literally laughing out loud by page 2, and it takes A LOT for a book to make me do this. I think it's because the type of humour in this book is EXACTLY my type of humour. It had me giggling like an idiot!
I want to stress that this isn't a romance. It's a coming of age story that focuses mainly on friendship, family and grief and how these affect Eva throughout the events in the novel. I absolutely loved the poetry theme and the depth to the family issues and the road trip was just brilliant! I also loved how we got to see REAL issues that impact REAL teens today. I found the main character to be really relatable even though I haven't been through a grieving process or anything, I just felt like I connected to her for some reason, and props to Margo Rabb for creating a character that I easily could attach myself to!
I love the theme in this book that true love comes in all different forms, not just romantic love. I loved reading about Eva's growth as a person and I loved joining her on her journey to self-discovery.
I loved everything about this book and I highly, highly recommend picking it up if you love a good contemporary that has a romance throughout, but isn't solely romance focused. LOVED IT.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,687 reviews1,266 followers
March 14, 2015
2.5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn’t be broken.”

free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

This started out okay, but then it just got silly.

The main character in this was, I’m sorry, but she was a bit of an idiot. I understood that she liked this boy, but who finds a way to travel from New York to L.A. just because a boy they kissed once is working there over the summer? When you don’t exactly have a relationship, and have to talk your best friend into a random contest to try and get there? Oh yes, meet Eva.

“I had to find a way to get there. I kept thinking that if I could find a last-minute internship out there, or some reason that my mom would approve of, then I wouldn’t even have to mention Will to her.”

The storyline in this was a little bit of romance at the beginning, which was then followed by this crazy girl trying to find a way to go across the country after this random boy that she liked. This involved roping her friend into a ‘smartest girl in America’ contest as a way to get free travel, when basically all she was doing was following after this boy!

“I had no idea how I was going to get to California.”

The only other real storyline was that Eva’s dad had died in a plane crash, and I did feel a bit sorry for her because of it, but chasing this boy across the country was not going to fix that. If anything she needed to reconnect with her mother instead of taking it out on her.

“When people ask how my dad died, I lie. I say he died of a heart attack, in his sleep.”

The romance just irritated me, because while I got that Eva liked Will at the start, I just got the feeling that this relationship was going nowhere, and the way Will kept leading her on was just annoying!

“Actually, I’m not sure if I’d use the word “together.” We kissed on a street corner and made out in a roof garden and now we write letters.

The ending to this was just what I expected basically, which as I’m sure you can guess wasn’t exactly a happy ending for Eva, and the way she treated her best friend wasn’t nice either.

“I know you didn’t do it on purpose. I just -” She sighed. “I thought you’d be there for me, you know?”

Overall, I think that people who like road-trip stories might like this, but for me, I just wanted this girl to come to her senses and stop acting like a 12-year-old with a crush.
5 out of 10
Profile Image for Tiff.
569 reviews539 followers
June 9, 2015
4-4.5 stars. Review originally posted at Mostly YA Lit

The first thing you need to know about this book is that it is not really about kissing at all . I think there are maybe three kisses total in the book. And the cover, while adorable, does not belie what's inside.

Basically, Kissing in America is nothing like what you would expect it to be .

Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's bad. For me, KiA was SO MUCH BETTER than I expected. It's a beautifully written, poignant tale of women and where their hearts lie . In particular, it's about one girl, Eva Roth, who lost her father in a plane crash two years ago. Eva and her father were close, sharing a love of writing and poetry, but Eva hasn't written a thing since he died, choosing to read romance novels by the dozen and focus on school instead. Meanwhile, Eva and her Women's-Studies professor mother have a strained relationship, because her mother seems to have completely put her father out of her mind.

Eva falls into a romance with Will, a cool guy at school - they have a special night together, and then he suddenly moves away to California. Desperate to see him again, Eva concocts a plan with her best friend, science genius Amy, to get on a reality show that films in L.A. and travel out there by bus.

I read some reviews that commented that Eva felt a bit young with her crush and her ambition to find Will, and I have to respectfully disagree. Eva has been very carefully sheltered by her mother during the formative years of her life, and her introvertedness fits perfectly with the grief and recovery process that she’s been going through . The fact that she’s dealing with it essentially alone (as her mother is basically ignoring her own grief) makes it even more realistic to me that Eva would latch onto the idea of happily ever after and perfect moments typical of romance novels.

This is a story about a girl who craves romance, but needs unconditional love. It's a story about taking action and finding more than what you were looking for. It's about navigating complicated relationships and recognizing that people are more than just the stories we create about them in our minds. It's about learning to move on while holding on tight.

If I have criticisms, they are that the book slowed down a bit for me in the middle, and that some of the fake romance novel excerpts seemed really, well, FAKE to me . As a reader of romance, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered any mass market paperback romance that had any mention of “ripe love-mounds” or “man-dew”. I know some of the descriptions were written for humor’s sake, but I felt that they were doing a bit of a disservice to the romance genre - which was strange because it went counter to one of the book’s themes of the romance novels & literary writing being able to sit together at the same table.

Still, despite those slight reservations, I read this in two sittings, and honestly, if I had had time, I would have read it in one. It was completely absorbing, a true contemporary with a fully realized cast of characters. I loved everyone in this book. I loved how real it felt, and how many mistakes were made, and how the characters just kept on trying and loving and trying again.


 Pitch-Perfect Writing: Margo Rabb's writing is alternately quirky, with weird and wonderful laughs, and then completely emotional, full of wisdom and a deep understanding of grief and how people cope.

I Want To Go To There: Road-trip YA books are my crack, but this one is different, because most of it happens on buses. There's a different perspective to the road trip through the bus trip.

Kick-Arse Secondary Characters: I can’t even with these characters. From Janet, Eva’s aunt who teaches EXTREME sexual safety in schools, to Amy, Eva’s best friend who wants desperately to go to MIT, to Irma, Eva’s mom’s boyfriend’s mother, who is a Jew-turned-Buddhist-turned-Christian-rancher’s wife, this cast is so quirky and lovely and real.

Poetry & Literature: Not only is Eva a writer, but her aunt Lulu is a professor who wrote her thesis on Elizabeth Bishop, so this book is chock full of poetry and lines from literature. In fact, each chapter of Kissing in America begins with a line from a poem that colours the theme of the chapter - which is not in itself an unusual thing, but the pieces that Rabb chooses from are so perfectly aligned that it’s not hard to imagine that she actually built the story around them. It adds so much to the book and makes the hearts of Lit majors (like me) burst a little.

The Final Word:

Margo Rabb has completely bowled me over with her writing and her perfectly meandering story. This is a true writer’s book: for people who love flawed, realistic characters, emotional journeys, and love itself. A subtle gem highly recommended for YA and adult contemporary fans.

Profile Image for Theresa.
227 reviews139 followers
July 28, 2017
I really liked "Kissing in America" by Margo Rabb. A beautifully written and unpredictable YA novel about a 16 year-old girl who reads romance novels to cope with the death of her father (who perished 2 years prior in a plane crash). The protagonist, Eva, is a smart and clever young lady. I like that she was written as a complex character, and NOT in a standard, boring cliché-ridden way. She was multi-dimensional. Eva is trying to process her grief (her aloof mother is no help), and the mixed-up emotions of falling in love for the first time (enter her high school crush, Will). Trust me, I've read A LOT of YA fiction and "Kissing in America" is not wishy-washy, fluffy, or generic. This book has a lot of substance. It's so much more than a story about first love. I really felt connected to Eva's internal struggles. Yes, she makes naïve, impulsive decisions but she's young (and human) and I could relate to her problems with clarity and compassion. I also liked Eva and Annie's friendship. It's so refreshing to read about a friendship that isn't based on jealously or sabotage. The ending is satisfying and realistic. It was the ending I was hoping for. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,472 reviews19.2k followers
July 1, 2016
I HAVE SOME FEELINGS. First of all: I feel like this book gets a really bad rap and I don't get it at all. It's a super cute super fun contemporary and I definitely think it deserves a higher rating than it has on here. HOWEVER. I do recognize that the ending isn't quite right. It doesn't quite.. Fit. Which is why I'm taking off a star. That and the fact that it's a little insta-lovey, which y'all know I hate. But honestly those things didn't even deter me that much bc this book was super fun and surprisingly well written. I'll definitely read more from Margo Rabb in the future bc this book was adorbs.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,322 followers
June 3, 2015
“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”

----Stieg Larsson, a Swedish best-selling author

Margo Rabb, an American author, pens her new novel, Kissing in America that traces the journey of a 16-year old girl who takes it to find her best shot at love, which is not only finding out the pros and cons of love, but also finding out who you are and what you really want in life.


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.

Eva's father died in a tragic plane accident two years ago, since then she has been coping with her father's loss by reading romance novels. But then she meets Will in her school who too knows a lot of grief and family drama and because of it, they bond over quite easily, gradually, their bonding turning into something stronger called love. Unfortunately, Will moves to California all of a sudden, that is when, Eva along with her best friend, Annie, formulates a road-trip plan to visit Will and to get find her true love.

The writing style of this author is really good as she have masked the tone of the book into something emotional, and the way the author have captured the tormenting and sharp taste of grief is really brilliant, since I could contemplate with the pain. Unfortunately, the beginning of the story is nothing much captivating enough to draw me in with an annoying protagonist, Eva.

The prose is quite elegant and lovely. The narrative is kept realistic but at times bit cheesy with Eva's suddenly-turned-into-a-romantic-person kind of feelings. The chemistry in the book is really sweet yet the main focus of Eva's loss of her dad never once left the storyline. The gripping and sharp hook of loss and death vividly shines through the storyline and especially through Will and Eva's relationship.

At times, the story went on and one with all the relatives of Eva protecting her, which was not that interesting to read about. Otherwise, the plot is quite engaging one especially with Eva's POV, we could feel her pain of losing her father and her mother distancing herself from the pain by not talking about it.

The characters are all very real and strongly developed, given the fact that this is an emotional journey, the author have carefully etched out her characters with lots of compassion. Overall, this is a strong and moving novel which had it's fun moments and sad moments, but except at some instances, the book didn't disappoint me especially didn't make the story dull at all.

Verdict: I strongly advise all the teenagers to read this book especially if you've lost someone and if you're strongly infatuated over someone.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publisher of the author for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,329 followers
June 25, 2015
At first I thought it was kinda odd that the blurb for this book was by Elizabeth Gilbert, but as I contemplated this book after finishing it, I realized just how much sense it made - this book is essentially YA Women's Fiction. I don't mean that to suggest Rabb is off with her teen voice - she isn't - but there's something so...densely internal about it, so primarily about self-discovery in a way that feels to me beyond a teen's years. The voice is right, and I'm not sure the plot of chasing a boy across the country would've worked as well with someone older, but it's hard for me to imagine this being a teen read. And I have no idea why it's called Kissing in America; literally none.

I think this is a great book when entered into with the right expectations - it has a fantastic cast of fleshed-out secondary characters, some great complex relationships, and a strong journey of self-discovery - but I suspect the marketing (minus the blurbs!) will lead many readers into it with the wrong ones.

ETA: Jewish main character, by the way! 10 points for that from this Jewish reader.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,097 reviews129 followers
August 23, 2015
Most of the time when I read a book that I love, I devour it. I can't stop reading it; I don't want to leave the world or its characters. I don't want it to end and I want there to be sequels. Many, many sequels. Thousand page sequels.

Kissing In America is different. I savored it, reading it chapter by chapter and then taking a small break. I didn't want it to end and I knew that every page I turned made that ending so much closer. I'm sure there have been other books like this for me, but I can't name one right now.

This book is absolutely perfect for me. Eva is a huge reader (although she reads romances, which I tend not to read) and she's also still dealing with her dad's death. It's not a recent loss, so she has a little perspective on the grief, but it's still very much a thing in her life. Besides that, it's also all about relationships, and I love those books.

Yes, Eva's consumed with a crush on Will, but this is just as much about her relationships with her mom and best friend.

I love books that are layered and multi-dimensional and this is the best example of that I've read in quite a while.

Highly recommended---but now I need a sequel.
Profile Image for Tedi.
312 reviews6 followers
January 10, 2015
I cried at the end. It was that good.

Margo Rabb has created a beautiful story about women - women who are so unbelievably strong in various ways - about finding yourself, about loss and how we cling to those that help us find our way out of the deep and dark pit of grief. This story made me laugh, it surprised me, it kept me eager to see what would happen next.

I cannot WAIT to take this to one of my students on Monday morning.

My only complaint is the title - I feel like the title belittles the story and makes it seem like it's about something that it's not. I would have taken "Finding Love Across America", but not this.

Moral of the story: Do not let the title fool you! There is a smidge of romance, but it's about so much more than that!
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,449 reviews897 followers
January 6, 2016
To me, Kissing in America felt like two completely different stories that didn't quite go together. I loved the opening chapters, which read to me like a quiet contemporary romance in which Eva, a reserved girl with hidden depths, falls for the charismatic Will. I really related to Eva -- to the awkwardness of her adolescent longings and her sadness over her father's sudden death two years prior. I loved this part of the story even though, as an adult reader, I could see that Will, who was dating a teen model, was never going to appreciate a girl like Eva. Of course, Eva doesn't see this at all, and when Will abruptly moves to California, she hatches a plan to get her best friend Annie to try to become a contestant on The Smartest Girl In America (a TV quiz show filmed in California) as a way to get to Will.

This was the point at which the story went off the rails for me. I didn't even mind the outlandishness of Eva's scheme (and I loved Eva's overprotective mother) but I didn't love the way the tone of the book changed completely. The girls' road trip felt didactic and preachy to me -- like a weird, madcap journey meant to teach Eva some Important Life Lessons. I was really looking forward to the scenes with The Smartest Girl in America (yes -- I'm nerdy like that) but then was disappointed when Eva did something that I had a hard time getting past.

Kissing In America featured beautiful writing and some really poignant moments that had to do with Eva's longing for Will and her attempts to deal with her father's death. But I wish the book had just stuck to that, because to me, the addition of the comedic parts -- Eva's obsession with bodice ripper novels and the weird (STD lady??) characters on the road trip -- were jarring and discordant. Other readers may feel completely differently, though. If you like quirky road trips, you might love this...
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,204 followers
May 1, 2015
This is a beautiful book about friendship, love, and grief. It might be one of the best depictions of grief I've read, along with a really powerful takeaway for Eva, the main character.

There is romance here, but the romance ends up playing a big role in what's discovered about the importance of friendship and family. The title is sort of unfortunate, since there's so little kissing in the story and it'll be a turn off for many readers who don't want it (...and it might disappoint those who do). But ultimately, this is a fantastic, feminist coming-of-age story. Fans of road trip stories will love this.

Eva's voice is strong, she and best friend Annie are incredibly smart, but they're real and flawed and make dumb decisions, too.

Pair this with Hilary T. Smith's A SENSE OF THE INFINITE and also hand it to fans of Trish Doller's work. Rabb's writing is top-notch and enveloping.
Profile Image for Erin Lynn.
335 reviews79 followers
April 16, 2015
This is such an adorable and DIVERSE book!

Full review to come closer to publication date.
Profile Image for Lou | bookswithlou.
525 reviews5 followers
September 13, 2017
So this certainly was not what I was expecting but I definitely enjoyed it. I was thinking it was going to be more of a romance then it was and I was pleasantly surprised with how much it wasn't. The biggest problem I had was with the main character, she just annoyed me a little bit especially at the end but other than that it was good.
Profile Image for Heather.
570 reviews
January 24, 2015
4.5 stars

what a GEM. So glad I read it's excerpt in Buzz Books 2015 and gave this unassuming, beautiful book a shot. More soon:)
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews736 followers
May 19, 2015
Kissing in America started off as a really bumpy read for me. Eva wasn’t the easiest MC to connect to, but as the book progressed I certainly got to know her character that much more and understand why she did the things she did (most often the way things happened wasn’t really her fault and with the way things were with her mother I could kind of understand why Eva wanted to do the things she wanted, if I was in Eva’s shoes, I think I very much would have felt the same way). Eva ends up falling hard and fast for Will, and when it looks like Will could be feeling the same way, things are looking up for Eva, but then Will drops the biggest bombshell out of the blue, that he’s moving to California to be with his dad, Eva is distraught, because she really thought Will was the one, but then when a chance opportunity comes Eva’s way and she has the chance to meet Will sooner than expected Eva knows this is a chance that she has to take, even if she knows she has to convince her best friend of going with her and her mother for the chance to go.

Eva’s trip to California was certainly one I wasn’t expecting, I did expect a few road bumps along the way, but not the quirky characters that we got stuck with and the awful dilemma’s that Eva had to deal with. But despite the situations Eva found herself in, I think this road trip was exactly what Eva needed in order to find herself. Yes her mum’s over protectiveness still continued to follow her the further she went, and although her mum did have her best interests at heart, I think things could have been much easier for both Eva and her mum and their relationship if Eva’s mum actually consulted Eva with the decisions she made, yes things hadn’t been the best for both of them over the last few years and with continual discoveries being made things were only going to get tougher for them both. But if they decided to work as a team and rather than not discussing things with each other a lot more progress could have been made and may be the comfort that both characters needed from each other could have been found a lot more sooner. That’s why my only real gripe about this book; Eva’s mother is a character who is really difficult to like. Other than that I really sort of liked this book. There were some unexpected twists and turns along the way which I so didn’t see coming and sort of wish didn’t happen (my poor heart really went out to some characters). But I liked the way Rabb dealt with Eva’s journey of dealing with the grief of her father and making the most out of the important relationships in her life.

This review can be found on: The Readers Den
Profile Image for The Bibliophagist.
191 reviews59 followers
January 13, 2016
I was so excited to read this book. The summary sounded perfect: road trip across America, best friends, and first loves. This book has everything you want, and it did not disappoint.

When Eva’s "boyfriend" suddenly moves to LA a few months into their relationship, Eva and her best friend, Annie, travel by bus to go see him, although their official excuse to travel cross country is to compete in the Smartest Girl in America competition.

Within the first few chapters you get the sense that Eva is a smart, funny character. I loved being inside her head, hearing her inner monologues and reading about her thoughts of love and heartache. Eva was well rounded. She was smart but had a ton of flaws.

This adventurous read just isn’t just a fun summer road trip book, it offers a unique take on death/loss/the grieving. There were so many quotes I highlighted in this book.

Even though I adored this book, there were some moments while reading I felt conflicted. It's one of those stories where I was almost yelling at my Nook. One of my complaints is that the description/setting of the places in the south the girls stopped at seemed stereotypical. For example, when they stopped in Texas it was all rodeos, cowboy hats, and bails of hay. Same with Tennessee, it just didn’t feel real (although this didn't take away the charm of the novel).

I like the overall message this novel gives. It’s a book about self exploration and loving yourself. I think there should be more books like this on the YA market.

This book wasn’t laugh out loud funny, but there moments where I definitely chuckled. With all its heart, humor, and wit, this book belongs on the top of your to read list.

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Profile Image for Victoria.
157 reviews22 followers
June 4, 2016
"Love is never easy or guaranteed. Real love is a leap, you know. As you get older you learn how hard it is, how hard everything is, how we never know if there's any ground beneath our feet, or if we'll be hurt or heartbroken. But we leap anyway. You have to take that leap."

This book tells us 2 different stories.
About a girl Eva who fell in love with a boy Will. Will and Eva shared the same grief of losing family members and I felt sorry for them. But then Will suddenly moved to LA (after their first "date") and Eva decided to travel across the country to see him again.
This journey was epic. Eva persuaded her best friend to participate in the "Smartest girl in America" contest. She shot a gun. Almost got bit by a rattlesnake. Fought a crazy old woman in the bus. But she made it to LA.
At the same time "Kissing in America" tells us a story of her terrible relationship with her mom. And Eva's struggle to cope with her fathers death who died in a plane crash.

It had a lot of promise in the beginning.
During the the first chapters I couldn't stop reading and grinning. But then.. Will irritated me. He didn't pick up his phone, rarely saw Eva and gave her hope.
It was an OK read. I couldn't really connect with the characters though maybe I wasn't in the right mood for it. Some moments were funny and cute, but it still felt a little bit flat.
I expected that kind of ending so I wasn't surprised.
I wouldn't recommend this book for romance lovers, but it's a good book about self–discovery.
Profile Image for Brian.
291 reviews116 followers
February 14, 2015
The title and cover are a touch misleading; this is about so much more than kissing in America, and will appeal to a much larger audience than a teenage romance typically would. I'm a bit surprised at how much I like this one. Full review to come, but keep an eye out for this one in May.
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,038 followers
March 1, 2015
Not impressed. Contemporary + road trip = WIN (usually) but in this case, it was a FAIL.

Certain statements from the characters really got on my nerves and the main character was beyond silly. The guy she started 'dating' rarely saw her, he didn't answer his phone and he eventually left to California so the brilliant MC decided to leave NY and visit him. Despite claiming she read 118 romance novels in 2 years (LOL) and reading her mother's feminism related books she clearly missed He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.

The blurb promised Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love but all I got was Eva using Annie and failing to help her out when she really needed her just so she could see a guy who's not even interested.

I'm not even going to rate the book.
Profile Image for Zuzana.
474 reviews11 followers
July 17, 2015
I am an emotional wreck right now... I am trying to find words to describe how much I have loved this story, but I cannot. All I can say is that it will surprise you in the most wonderful way possible. If you expecting and classic love-story, you'll be in for a disappointment. That being said, you should give it a go. It's still a story of love, friendship and it will make you cry, laugh, giggle... Every poem is a poem about love. Every story is a story about love, you just need to read it to figure out what kind of love.

Beautiful tale.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,276 followers
June 25, 2015
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Kissing in America is a story about a girl with unrealistic expectations of love, from reading too many romance novels.

Sound familiar? Eva was quite relatable, being cautious in every other area of her life but love. She’s been pining over a guy for a long time, who she develops a genuine friendship with. But when he breaks up with his popular girlfriend and kisses Eva, she believes she’s in love and goes on a roadtrip across the country just to reunite with him.

I can stand back and criticise Eva for her actions or I can feel for her plight. She genuinely believes she’s in love, not having anything else to go by but the relationships she’s witnessed in her romance novels, where heroes and heroines would move the world just to be with each other. While Eva’s grand scheme sounded silly and obsessive, she really doesn’t know any better and my younger self can relate to that naivety.

With a father who has died from a plane crash, never really giving Eva and her mother closure, and her mother’s cold and callous way of coping with things while further distancing herself from her teenage daughter, Eva wants to believe that there is some good in her life.

I really felt for Eva, she’s normally anxious in every sense of the world but even I could have told her what she’d be waiting for at the other end of the line. The good thing is that during her road trip with her best friend and her aunty Janet, she did some soul searching along the way while finding out what the greater country has to offer her. As they road trip through Texas, Cleveland, Tucson, and finally LA, we get to experience cowboys, diners and the different personalities these towns can offer.

Most importantly, Eva got to move through her grief, repair her relationship with her mother and find out some real home truths about the people she should really be focusing on.

Kissing in America is quite a slow novel, with a big journey in between with lots of travelling and experiencing of each small town and the different people Eva would meet along the way. It’s less about the end game and more about the journey. Although it offered some really great reflective moments about grief and longing, with fantastic realistic character building for Eva, I wasn’t really invested in her plight and the slow draggy journey along the way.

But I liked the ending and how the whole thing felt realistic. Because real life works very differently to fiction which we’ve all learnt the hard way.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy.
Profile Image for Lauren  (TheBookishTwins) .
447 reviews204 followers
January 3, 2016
I received a free copy via edelweiss for review purposes


Margo Rabb is a great writer, but Eva's infatuation with Will and love annoyed me, and what she did to Annie was unforgivable. Still, a great narrative about dealing with grief.

Eva is a hopeless romantic. No one understands why she reads romance novels featuring half naked cowboys. She does. She reads them to dull the loss of her father. When she meets Will, he's the only one who understands her grief. As soon as Eva starts to fall in love with Will, he moves to California, and Eva concocts a plan, along with her best friend Annie, to travel to across the country to see him again. On this road trip across America, Eva finds out what love really is.

As I mentioned before, I do think that Margo Rabb is a great writer, but I don't think that made up for how much I didn't really like Eva. She's naive, immature and selfish. She is completely devoted to Will and love and it had damaging consequences on Annie, her best friend, and Eva's relationship with her, and in the end, was it worth it? Did Eva grow as a person? I sure hope so but it isn't as evident as I would have liked. Everything is pretty much quickly resolved despite the conflict that Eva's selfish act caused. On that note, I did enjoy the narrative about death and grief and coming to terms with that loss. I just felt that the outlandish romance and field trip to follow a guy across the country was unneeded, but I guess it sells, right?

I enjoyed Annie, and Eva's mother, and the cowboys and crazy ladies on buses. I would have loved more focus on friendship, less boy-crazy romance. Nevertheless, for people looking for a honest and raw account of grief and don't mind a lot of bogged down romance, I think you'll love this one. It was certainly the most enjoyable part about Kissing in America and the reason this has 3.5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Ryley (Ryley Reads).
971 reviews76 followers
August 11, 2017
All the stars!

This was a fantastic book! I loved every page!

Eva and her mom had this heartbreaking relationship because of her father's death, and I could really feel their emotions colliding.

Will was such a great character, but he was so real. He had issues too and he didn't always make the best decisions.

It is a road trip, but not your typical road trip. I loved it just the same though!

I think what I loved most about this book is that it's not your typical happily ever after love story. I don't want to spoil anything but it was just such a refreshing change from the usual. It was also a great finding yourself story and figuring out how to deal with grief and loss.

I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Ella.
568 reviews108 followers
April 11, 2015
Another case of, "why couldn't the awesome best friend been the MC, instead of the whiny prat we got instead?!"
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,733 reviews327 followers
April 7, 2018
Digital Audiobook read by Laura Knight Keating

From the Book Jacket 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. Her romantic fantasies become reality when she meets Will. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head over heels for him, he picks up and moves to California. 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 encounter cowboys, kudzu, and tiny towns without stoplights. Along the way the confront the complex truth about love.

My Reactions
This is a young-adult “romance” with very little romance. Instead, it is more of a coming-of-age story. Eva’s passion for cheesy romance novels was a little irritating at first, but to give Rabb some credit she deliberately has these teens occasionally speak in the extravagant prose of bodice-ripping romances; clearly, she is having fun with the genre.

While I understand that Eva’s emotional growth might have been stunted by her father’s early death and her mother’s resultant over-protectiveness, I still thought she was incredibly immature, and I was rolling my eyes at several scenes. Ultimately Eva learns some important life lessons – about grief, friendship, and forgiveness. Final verdict: it’s a decent YA novel. But not really my cup of tea.

The audiobook is read by Laura Knight Keating. She has a good pace and she really brings the cast of quirky characters to life.
Profile Image for Shay.
234 reviews39 followers
May 7, 2015
Eva's in love with a boy named Will, who, right when things start working out between them, moves across the country. Eva knows that if she can just see Will again everything will be okay, her worries about her mom remarrying, and all her unresolved issues with her dad's death won't matter so much. But how is she supposed to get all the way across the country to see him again?

First of all, I feel like the title and description, and even the cover, of this book are very misleading. It doesn't have much at all to do with "kissing in America". That's not to say that it wasn't a good book just that I feel the cover is a lie.

This review really comes down to one thing and that's that this was a good book but not a great book.

What it comes down to with this book is the characters. I loved all the side characters, Annie(the best friend) and Lulu(the basically aunt) most of all, but I had some issues with Eva. Mainly, that she seemed so immature and naive. That's how she was supposed to be, her dad died two years ago and she has issues coming to terms with everything. Okay, makes sense, that's fine. It's just I never felt like I connected with her. I didn't outright hate, or even dislike her but I didn't like and relate to her either.

The road trip aspect to this book was great, it's one of my favorite things, but at the same time it was kind of smashed down and pushed to the side of Eva's constant monologue over Will. I would have liked to get the road trip aspect a lot more, it was more like "oh we were on the bus for twelve hours stopped here, are near that, now let's spend one short boring day in this town and repeat the same thing in the next chapter". I guess when it came to the road trip, it was too much telling not enough showing for me. I wanted to see Annie hanging out with Chance since her, barely mentioned, romance was the most swoony one in the book.

I also would have liked a little more development of Will's character, maybe then it wouldn't have seemed so childish for Eva to be going across the country to see him. Instead, we barely know anything about him and it seems beyond naive for her to go through so much trouble to see him again.

In the end this was a good book about family and friendship and grief and loss, it wasn't a book about kissing in America, but it was still a good book. Mostly, I found it to be kind of slow and boring because I never connected with Eva which always makes me feel disconnected from the whole story, but is not necessarily the book's fault. I do recommend it because it was more of a not my cup of tea thing than anything else.
Profile Image for Alicia.
3,120 reviews35 followers
February 15, 2015

Rabb's latest (after Cures for Heartbreak and a super cute mystery series) centers on a teenage girl coping with the sudden death of her father, falling hard for a cute mysterious boy at school, and getting into romance novels. When her love interest ends up in California, she convinces her best friend to enter a scholarship battle/reality show in LA so she can secretly go see him. A crazy (and pretty crazy entertaining!) road trip ensues. There's a lot here about family, grief, friendship, poetry, love, and so on--really good stuff. The protagonist is kiiiind of annoying about the boy she likes, but in a VERY realistic teenage way. And the writing towards the end was a little clunky--but despite that, I really liked how things wrapped up. There are some really, really great adult lady characters too, always appreciated in a book aimed at teens. A-.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,079 reviews287 followers
August 4, 2016
This was SO good! I love a good road trip story. This book felt so realistic - especially with everything that happened towards the end. I loved the friendship the most I think. Some elements were a little crazy, like how quickly she fell for this guy and what she was willing to do to see him, but the journey itself felt relatable.
Profile Image for Michelle (Bookaholic Banter).
656 reviews144 followers
July 17, 2015
A coming of age story, a love story, a funny story, this had it all. I absolutely adored this book. It was a story of moving on, letting go, courage, love, relationships, learning, and travel. It was a beautiful and funny story that was never dull or boring. This is one not to be missed.
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