cover image Confessions of a Serial Kisser

Confessions of a Serial Kisser

Wendelin Van Draanen, . . Knopf, $15.99 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-375-84248-1

Evangeline and her musician dad used to be close—but that was before he had an affair, and before she and her mom moved out. Cleaning, Evangeline finds her mother's stash of romance novels and begins dreaming of a “crimson kiss.” Between the lure of the crimson kiss and a self-help book urging readers to live their fantasies, Evangeline, formerly a straight-A high school junior, starts kissing crushes and even strangers. She also starts to get a reputation. Van Draanen's (Flipped ) plotting is straightforward, but the pacing is near perfect: readers realize, just when Evangeline does, that it is not a kiss she is after but actually “more the passion of it... to really, really care.” The author also draws a solid parallel between Evangeline's inability to forgive her father and her best friend's unwillingness to forgive Evangeline after she kisses her friend's secret crush. Readers may not get all of Evangeline's references to old rock 'n' roll bands, but they will understand how the music connects her with her dad, and why she eventually wants to make her own sound. In the end, the playful title and premise are matched by tender and convincing storytelling. Ages 12–up. (May)