"Other words echoed too, not so much a prayer as a one-line poem: If he’s shattered, I’m not whole."
There is a lot to like about Margo Rabb's newest YA - it is both miles wide and miles deep. Ostensibly a road trip tale, in which the main character, Eva, embarks on a cross-country journey with her best friend Annie, it is also a trip of self-discovery for Eva and her mother.
Eva's father has been killed in a plane crash several years before the book begins. His death is the single most defining event of her life - there is BPC (before plane crash) Eva, and there is APC Eva, and Eva's attempts to reconcile her life as it is with her life as she wishes it was are what makes this book so compelling. Eva copes with her grief by reading romance novels - more than 100 of them at most recent count - because she can depend upon them for a happy ending.
So, when Annie wins a place on a scholarship game show in LA, Eva and Annie plan a bus trip across the U.S.A. to get there. And to make the trip all the better, not by coincidence, Will, a boy that Eva has fallen hard for before he ends up having to move to L.A. to live with his father, happens to be at the other end of the bus trip.
While there were moments of the book that dragged for me, and characters who were a bit too quirky to be convincing (Eva's Aunt Janet, the safety consultant, hilariously nicknamed Aunt Gonorrhea, leaps to mind), over all, I loved it. The stop in Texas was actually my favorite section of the road trip, Eva's substitute aunt Lulu was my favorite supporting character, and the point at which Annie and Eva are ejected from the bus after a kerfuffle with a crazy woman named Trinket was really funny and made me laugh out loud.
Don't be fooled by the lighthearted premise, though. There's heartbreak and triumph in the pages of this book.
I would recommend Kissing in America for fans of contemporary YA. And while it's not a romance, I think that romance readers might enjoy the respectful but lighthearted send-up of their favorite genre.