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Time Does Not Bring Relief, But Road Trips Do

Hit the road with Margo Rabb's tale of grief, friendship and romance novels.

Time Does Not Bring Relief, But Road Trips Do

BOOK REPORT for Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Cover Story: Pull Over
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Poignant
Bonus Factors: Road Trip, Romance Novels, Poetry
Relationship Status: Friendship or Bust

Cover Story: Pull Over

Neon signs are always eye-catching, whether you’re cruising down the road or browsing the shelves, and this artwork, perfectly themed to the story, should make any reader want to slam the brakes and take a detour into this book. (That is, once you recover from the déjà vu.)

But can we talk about the title for a second? Because… misleading much? Not only is there very little kissing in this novel, but the fluffiness of the title does a major injustice to the weight of these pages. It’s like naming The Fault In Our Stars Amsterdam or Bust! Just, no.

The Deal:

Two years ago, Eva’s father died in a plane crash. Her mother mourned by diving into work while Eva consoled herself with visits to the online forum for crash victims’ families and the happily ever after of romance novels. Grief is the silent, heavy elephant sharing their room, and it’s only when Eva strikes up a friendship with beautiful, soulful Will that she begins to see a glimmer of hope in the darkness.

When Will unexpectedly moves to California, Eva is willing to take desperate measures to keep their romance (and her hope) alive, even if that means entering her best friend in a TV quiz show and hopping on a cross-country bus to Los Angeles.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

There were moments when Eva reminded me of a wounded baby bird, and I just wanted to cradle her in my hands and try to fix what was broken. But there were other instances when I wanted to march into her room, hands on my hips, and give her a walloping dose of straight talk. (The latter usually happened where Will was concerned.) Eva is a total Felicity Porter— intensely earnest and sweetly naive about boys— and the fact that she feels things so deeply is why she’s both admirable and occasionally exasperating. But whether I felt like loaning her my favorite sweater or plunking her down for some serious sisterly advice, my feelings towards her always stemmed from a tender, loving place. She’s been through a lot, this girl, and more than anything, I wanted her to find peace.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

As a king of campus, Will is utterly crushable, and his meet cute with Eva (she’s assigned as his tutor) is the stuff that teen dreams are made of. Their relationship builds softly, slowly, with a smattering of tingles here and there. But this book, which primarily follows Eva and her bestie, Annie, on the road, isn't really about romance, and that's totally okay with me. I just wish that whoever came up with the title of Kissing in America had gotten the memo.

Talky Talk: Poignant

Margo Rabb tinges each page with a gamut of emotions, from deep sadness to dazzling joy, and the ache in Eva's voice is made all the more powerful by her yearning for happiness. Amidst the lines of poetry (more on that below) and the whimsical magic of the road, there's a quiet storm of grief brewing, and it hovers on the periphery of Eva's journey like a dark cloud, occasionally rolling in with a powerful gust:

When you picture tragedies happening it’s always like a Technicolor movie, everything too bright, glaring, loud, with screams and a thumping soundtrack. In real life it’s nothing like that. When the bad news comes it’s so flat and regular and dull, the world so noiseless, so everyday, piercing you with its normalcy… What the movies don’t tell you is that the glaring colors and thundering music are only inside you.

Bonus Factor: Road Trip

I'm a sucker for road trip books, and this one, with stops in Cleveland, Tennessee, small town Texas and Tucson, doesn't skimp on serendipity or local flavor.

Bonus Factor: Romance Novels

Eva's obsession with romance novels rears its awesome head throughout the novel, with excerpts like this:

Sir Richard’s chest sparkled with man-dew as he whispered, “Lilith, it may hurt you when I burst thy womanhood.”

“Hurt me,” Lilith breathed. Her rosy domes undulated like the sea as he joined her in a love that vanquished every sorrow known on Earth.

And with scenes from Eva's imagination:

She stood beside Will on the deck of his ship, the Black Dawn, off the coast of California. She smelled the wind and sea and his wild manly tang.

“I waited a fortnight until word came that I was to see you again, dear Eva. But I’d wait an entire lifetime for you.” He kissed her with a fiery, ancient need and carried her to his love grotto.

In other news, Margo Rabb needs to write a romance novel.

Bonus Factor: Poetry

While Eva finds comfort in romance novels, she finds healing in poetry, and I particularly relished the poems and quotes that prefaced each part of the book.

Casting Call:

Olivia Cooke as Eva

Marlon Teixeira as Will

Relationship Status: Friendship or Bust

Being stuck in the car together for a long period of time is a true test of friendship, and book, you passed with flying colors. Thanks to your contemplative nature and surprising sense of humor, you made for an excellent companion, and while you dealt with some heavy shizz, my time with you never felt like a burden. Thanks for the ride!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Harper. I received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review. Kissing in America is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).