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The Serious kiss

by Mary Hogan


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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In this uneven first novel, Libby's dysfunctional family suddenly moves from its Chatsworth, Calif., home to a trailer park in the desert town of Barstow, and the 14-year-old narrator must quickly say goodbye to her best friend and former life—without getting a chance to have her dream "serious kiss" with popular Zach Nash. But in the hot desert, living next door to a grandmother she thought was dead, she begins to realize she isn't "so alone after all," especially when she makes a new offbeat best friend and boyfriend. Libby's family doesn't move until nearly halfway through the book, and readers may find the sudden change in plot direction jarring. Hogan creates some memorable moments, as Libby learns to enjoy life in the desert (eating burritos with a friend at a restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks, or learning about Barstow's plant life from another friend), but some of the author's flourishes, such as the trailer her grandmother lives in, which she converted into "one big, gleaming, air-conditioned kitchen," come across as bizarre. Because comical details such as these mix with serious themes, often addressed in a preachy tone (such as Libby's father's alcoholism: "Alcohol stole my father from me. It replaced him with a man who was mean to my mother and made our whole family feel like hiding"), readers may feel off-balance. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 7-9–Fourteen-year-old Libby Madrigal's biggest fear is becoming her parents; her father drinks too much, and her mother is an obese fast-food junkie, and they fight constantly. Bringing friends home is nearly impossible. Still, Libby tries to focus on her freshman-year goal: to have a serious kiss. This becomes more difficult when her father loses his job and the family moves to Barstow, CA, to live with Libby's grandmother, who the teen thought had passed away years ago. Living in a retirement trailer-park community in the middle of the desert is bad enough; to make matters worse, the kids at Libby's new school are cruel. Just as she thinks her life is over, her grandmother gives her some good advice that she heeds, and she begins to see the world in a whole new light. Readers will feel Libby's anxiety and agony as she deals with her family situation. The plot moves along with many surprising turns that keep readers guessing; there is never a dull moment. Just when they think that the protagonist's life is going to be OK, another tragedy strikes, but the novel ends on a happy, possibly unrealistic note, as the family agrees to enter counseling and Libby meets the guy of her dreams.–Leigh Ann Morlock, formerly at Vernonia School District, OR

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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