cover image 1,000 Reasons Never to Kiss a Boy

1,000 Reasons Never to Kiss a Boy

Martha Freeman. Holiday House, $16.95 (249pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-2044-5

Any girl who has caught her boyfriend cheating will feel an immediate camaraderie with 16-year-old bagel shop employee Jane, who witnesses her boyfriend and co-worker Elliot kissing another girl in the walk-in cooler. The incident, which results in the couple's break-up and Elliot's getting fired, inspires Jane to create a list of reasons why it's best to ""never to kiss a boy."" (""It will be my life's work,"" she declares.) Appearing at the beginning of each chapter, her reasons introduce various uncomfortable or thought-provoking episodes in her life that revolve around members of the opposite sex. Freeman's (Who Stole Halloween?) first-person narrative, full of wit and empathy for adolescent angst, brings to life a host of comic scenarios and memorable characters. Arthur, a boy from work, prefers wearing skirts to trousers, and Ashok, the boy genius next door, is a science whiz and inventor but can't figure out how to make a cup of tea. A subplot involving a heated rivalry with the new bagel shop in town adds twists to the plot and evokes an authentic and amusing image of small-town life. Ages 12-up.