Review: Kissing in America – Margo Rabb

kissing in americaIn the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.  

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls “gorgeous, funny, and joyous,” readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all of its forms.

Rating: 2/5

After some consideration, I’ve rounded my rating down, because quite frankly, I found the main character to be insufferable and exactly the kind of girl that gives teenage ladies a bad name.

Let me explain: she has a crush on the dude who she’s tutored for like a few weeks, they have one kiss, she elevates her crush to the insanity of absolute true love – AND THEN TRAVELS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SEE HIM ONCE HE MOVES AWAY, ultimately screwing over her best friend in the process. Nuh-uh. And ultimately, things don’t exactly end well for them – as you might have guessed. (I wouldn’t consider this a spoiler. It’s a fairly obvious conclusion by sane, rational people).

Now, not to trash people who have all-consuming crushes. But you have to admit, finding an elaborate excuse to travel across America (the excuse being a game show quiz that Eva and her best friend Annie enter) to see the dude you were never dating and only really known properly for a short amount of time seems a tad extreme to me. But hey, maybe I’m just a cynic.

But it’s not just the romantic delusions that bother me about our MC. Eva royally screws over her best friend – when push comes to shove, Eva lets Annie down – faithful, loyal Annie who has stuck by her throughout this whole crazy thing and worked so hard for her chance at achieving her dream. FAIL.

Eva isn’t exactly a nice person either – she constantly makes insulting remarks about Gia, all because she happens to be dating the boy that Eva likes.

Obviously Gia would never talk about writing and books. It was probably a big deal when she read the entire J. Crew catalogue. 

Please, spare me your pseudo-intellectual bullshit.

There was no way he could talk to Gia like this. What tragedies had she survived? A snag in a cashmere sweater. A slight redness after a mustache wax. 

Eva, you’re starting to sound like a real bitch, tbh. You know nothing about Gia, so stop making such shallow assumptions.

Will, the love interest, is shown through Eva’s eyes to be a complete manic pixie dream boy. Seriously.

Of course he liked poetry – he already seemed like a poet. A loner….He told me he rarely checked his email, and he was barely online at all. He only posted photos a few times a year – artsy pictures of subway tracks and his three legged dog…I loved his oddness.


Will’s strange, mysterious and elusive thing somehow made me like him even more. 


Eva continually harps on about whether he likes her or not – as more than friends – and it started to get on my nerves after a while. I dunno. Again, maybe I’m just not the romantic type, and that’s why I found it so irritating.

She also virtually stalks him on the internet, which makes me a leetle uncomfortable.

I googled him daily, too, though nothing new ever appeared, and I’d practically memorised the small amount of info about him already online… 

DAILY GOOGLING? That’s a tad extreme.

Eva also has a some disturbing ideas about sex:

Maybe if we did it, he wouldn’t found a way to stay in New York all summer. 


What I liked:

The supporting characters were pretty great – Lulu, Annie, even paranoid aunt Janet and accident-prone Larry.

I also liked how fiercely Eva defended her love of romance novels – as something that she doesn’t have to be ashamed of. Many of the cheesy historical romance novels include some rather kickass women, and apart from that, it’s a pleasurable form of escape, and she shouldn’t have to feel guilty about reading them. Amen to that.

In romance novels, nobody ever asks, “Hey, what’s going on here exactly? Why did you kiss me? What kind of relationship do you have in mind? Are we going to be together or what?” Instead, there are three hundred pages of cholera, explosions, amnesia, stabbings, natural disasters, and misunderstandings keeping the couple apart. 


I did also enjoy Margo Rabb’s style of writing, and I thought her discussion of grief and its progression throughout the book was very poignant.

When you’re on the wrong side of the odds, the odds are meaningless. 

There were also some funny moments – particularly the real-life cowboy discovering Eva’s cowboy romance book complete with cheesy cover and starting to read it – but unfortunately the good parts of this book were overshadowed by the aspects that I really, truly disliked.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may change prior to publication. 

10 thoughts on “Review: Kissing in America – Margo Rabb

  1. The cover reminds me of I’ll Meet You There – but this does sound very disappointing, I think I might stay away from it now – the premise sounds appealing though. Love the honest review x


    1. You’re absolutely right – the covers are so similar. I loved I’ll Meet You There a helluva lot more though. The writing in this one is really good, it’s just all the problematic stuff that I pointed out which led to a rather disappointed reading experience.


  2. Oh dear, now I’m really scared to read this. Eva sounds like she’s going to be a pain in my rear. Fabulous review though!


    1. Ha. She was certainly a pain in mine! Most reviews for this book seem to be middling-to-positive, so there’s hope!


  3. I’m sorry that you weren’t able to enjoy this one as much as you’d hoped, it sounded like the book had a lot of potential to offer too :( Thank you for your honest review though!


    1. I’ve found that the more I review, the more critical I become! When I look back at books I rated three years ago, it’s like what was I thinking? The book certainly had potential, but unfortunately didn’t measure up. :(


  4. I’ll be reading this, so thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sometimes I can put up with the crazy teenage instalove, because I was kind of like that as a teen, but sometimes I’m rolling my eyes like crazy. I’ll keep an open mind and see what I think.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen at YA Romantics


    1. Who knows, you might enjoy it? Unfortunately, it’s just an element that really bothers me. Will be interested to see what you think!


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