Review: Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle

Review: Kissing Kate by Lauren MyracleKissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
Published by Dutton Juvenile on April 14, 2003
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 198
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Lissa thought that she and Kate, her beautiful and charismatic best friend, would always be close. Then one summer night Kate kissed Lissa-and Lissa kissed her back. Now Kate acts as if nothing happened and as if Lissa doesn't exist. Suddenly forced to navigate her feelings and her classes without the protection of her more confident friend, Lissa feels truly alone. But with a keen sense of humor, a flaky new friend, and a book on lucid dreams, Lissa finds the bravery to examine her own desires and discovers that falling in love with the wrong person can be one way of finding your footing.

Obviously, I’ve heard the buzz about Lauren Myracle, but this is actually the first of her books I’ve ever read. Maybe I should have started with her most popular and lauded book, Shine, but hype and I really aren’t friends right now. Sometimes it’s nice to start with a less well-known book by an author. Even if Kissing Kate was terrible, I wouldn’t write her off, but, if I liked it, then I could be even more excited to get to her better stuff. Thankfully, the latter was the case. In general, I find that any LGBT fiction tends to be quite good, since it’s less likely to get published anyway, and Kissing Kate isn’t an exception.

Kissing Kate isn’t a perfect book by any means, but, honestly, what book is? The important thing is that it’s a really thoughtful consideration of teen sexuality. I especially love that Myracle doesn’t close the door on Lissa’s sexuality. All that the reader knows or Lissa knows is her feelings for one particular girl, her best friend Kate. All that really says is that she’s attracted to Kate, but it really doesn’t nail down her sexuality. Kissing Kate isn’t really a romance; it’s an investigation of Lissa’s identity.

Kate got drunk at a party and initiated a kiss with Lissa. Ever since, things haven’t been the same between them. Kate has a boyfriend, and really doesn’t want to risk her popularity. Lissa, on the other hand, refuses to ignore the spark that was between them. It’s a really heartbreaking situation, and I like the way that Myracle resolves everything.

Myracle has a really good hand on the high school dynamics. At least, I recognize some of the poisonous social dynamics from my own past. Most noticeably, the friends who treat you one way when you’re alone and another way when you’re in a group. Basically, this broke my heart for Lissa, because things like that seriously destroy your self-confidence. Insults from anyone hurt, but you know better than to believe some random jerk; insults from your friends wriggle their way down into your thoughts in a horrifically unhealthy way.

Kissing Kate takes place in my home town (Atlanta). I loved picking up on references to things from my area, even though she lives in the actual city and I’m in the burbs. The book is a bit dated, however, because a lot of the restaurants and chain stores referenced are gone by now. Still, the streets and places remain!

The characterization could use a bit of work, honestly. I’d especially have liked to know more about how Lissa and Kate were before that party. In general, I just don’t feel like I have a great handle on the different characters. I like the focus on getting to really know people, like how Lissa realized that Ariel was actually a good person she’d judged unfairly. I also loved that Finn, who has a disability, got a love interest, and also he was just delightfully sarcastic and cynical. He was probably my favorite person. In generally, actually, Kissing Kate was a really nice break from a lot of the current YA where everyone’s gorgeous. The teens here felt very true to life. Aside from that, there are a lot of family issues that are raised but don’t really go anywhere. What’s here is good, but the book would have benefited from more.

So yay! My free read turned out to be a delightful back list find. I was a bit concerned about how LGBT fiction from 2003 might be, but it’s totally fine.

Favorite Quote:

Never make a major hair change without thinking about it for at least a day. Never make a major hair change at Cost Cutters. And regardless of how horrible life is, don’t think a new look will solve the problem.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

hannah hart clapping

One response to “Review: Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle”

  1. Soma Rostam says:

    This sounds like an AWESOME book and I have already read a book by Lauren Myrcale but it wasn’t Shine. I think it was one of her short stories in an anthology book
    It was great though
    GREAT review deary
    Your reader,
    Soma R.
    Soma Rostam recently posted…ARC Review: Perfect Couple by Jennifer EcholsMy Profile

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