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I Belong

Review: If We Kiss by Rachel Vail

Title: If We Kiss

Author: Rachel Vail

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: If We Kiss (Book 1)

Publication Date: May 1, 2005

Format: Paperback, 288 Pages

ISBN-10: 0060569166 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0060569167 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


What would happen if we kiss?

Kevin led me quickly around the side of the building, then stopped. I managed not to crash into him. I tried to look calm, cool, unperturbed. I told myself not to laugh, especially not a snorting kind of laugh. “Wha . . . what did . . .”

And then he kissed me.

If We Kiss is the story of Charlotte (Charlie to her friends), who finds herself falling for a boy who is off-limits. Her best friend is in love with him, and her mother and his father are dating. Still, Charlie can’t help but wonder, what would happen if we kiss?

Quick & Dirty: A teenage story about a first kiss and the emotional rollercoaster of the kiss thereafter.

Opening Sentence: Kevin Lazarus stopped in front of me in the hall, turned around, and asked me if I was ready for the bio quiz.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Rachel Vail’s If We Kiss is about a young girl’s first kiss and the kisses thereafter. But Vail talks about more than just a kiss. In a young girl’s life, it will always be more about the moment than the actual act of kissing and Vail talks about that. If We Kiss is simple and beautiful, bringing me back to the moment of my very own. Of course, Vail’s version is a little more complex than mine, and it makes for a great read.

In If We Kiss, Charlie is living life as a freshman girl. Surrounded by a loving mom, a distant dad and extended family, and a small collection of quirky close girlfriends, Charlie is one of the only girls in her circle that hasn’t had a first kiss. But one morning, Kevin brought her aside and gave Charlie her first kiss. The emotional ramifications of that first kiss has sent Charlie down a spiraling path. Every action has a reaction, and for Charlie, that single kiss has created a mountain of questions and insecurities.

Charlie was written really well. Vail captured the mind and essence of a freshman girl on the cusp of young love. While her first kiss wasn’t exactly what she hoped for, Charlie has torn the scenario apart and overanalyzed it to death. She is realistic and her thoughts are personal. Vail gave her a great voice, fitting for a young freshman girl in high school. And it’s not just about the kiss, she also has the typical problems of a girl her age, involving family life, school life, and just life in general. I loved reading her, despite if I thought she was too angsty for me. It was realistic and true to the character.

Kevin is an interesting character. I want to say he is a freshman’s version of a bad boy. He has a reputation, or gossip has run wild about who he hangs out with. He is the other side of high school life, but portrayed in a positive light. Kevin has a lot of layers to his character, and I was surprised and pleased at how much I enjoyed reading about him. There’s a persona that Vail wants you to perceive, but then she reveals a different side of him that is nice also.

It’s not always easy to write about teenage angst or even first kisses. There’s something personal and intimate about it, and sometimes it doesn’t carry out properly. Vail manages to marry the two together nicely in If We Kiss. There’s an emotional involvement, but also a point of self discovery of who the characters are. There’s a message of relationship and friendship, but also of respect. The characters grow individually and together, and it was nice to see that progression of growth.

I was connected to the story, for the most part. I didn’t always agree with the amount of angst, but that’s a personal preference. I enjoyed Charlie’s thought process, her emotions, and her actions throughout the book. I was happy that Vail paced the story the way she did. Great story about a girl and her first kiss.

Notable Scene:

I do like George, I guess. There’s nothing not to like. I feel bad for him, though. He has this idea of me that he likes a whole lot more than he’d ever like the actual, secret, horrible me. He thinks I have values and standards and morals, that I’m “mature,” that I’m “deep.” But I’m not anymore.

Because the sad fact is, if that really had been Kevin on the phone earlier, calling to ask me out, I would’ve dumped George in a hot second.

If We Kiss Series:

1. If We Kiss

2. Kiss Me Again

FTC Advisory: Harper Collins provided me with a copy of If We Kiss.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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