Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Serious Kiss by Mary Hogan

This was Mary Hogan’s first book, and in the three years since then she has written others, including the Susannah series, one of which won the 2008 NAPPA gold award. Some critics called this book uneven, and I did find the heroine Libby’s voice a little too insistent at times, as she moans and bewails her horrible life. Libby is fourteen and has made a pledge with her best friend to experience a “serious kiss” before turning fifteen. Her horrible life includes a fat mom committed to fast food and a brother who steals cigarettes since he’s too young to buy them, and an alcoholic father. Libby’s dramatic take on life serves to insulate the reader from the very real dilemma of her father’s drinking, and how it has affected them all. It’s true that teenagers tend to criticize and find things to dislike in their home, so Libby’s intense commentary may actually be helping her stay functional. Not that she doesn’t break down at times. When her dad loses his job and the family moves from the Los Angeles area to a desert town, Libby hates the trailer park they live in and the school kids and the desert itself. But slowly things change. Her new-found grandmother (who has provided the trailer they live in) shares how being old makes her feel isolated too, and her reaching out helps Libby start to see the positive that’s around her. This book does start slowly and takes awhile to gain your interest, but by the ending you are charged up and energized along with Libby about her life!

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