Release Date: June 24, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.
But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.
Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.
When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.
I don’t quite know how to review The Things You Kiss Goodbye. Not because it’s confusing or a mindfuck or anything, I just don’t really know what to say about it. I did like it, though, but it didn’t blow me away.
I think the main problem with The Things You Kiss Goodbye is my lack of connection to it. I liked the characters, but I didn’t really feel anything for them. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the book or because of me, but I think it’s an it’s-not-you-it’s-me situation. The only character I did feel more for than simply interest was Cowboy (no, that’s not his actual name, don’t worry), but even that was… How do I put this? It was a spark, not a fire, so to say.
Before I write anything else, though, I’d like to clear this up: The Things You Kiss Goodbye is NOT a book about some minor relationship struggles or angst. It’s about an abusive relationship. The Things You Kiss Goodbye is NOT a love triangle, though the synopsis makes it seem that way. It is, however, about healthy and unhealthy relationships and choosing what’s right for you.
Our main character, Bettina, is kind of a loner. She’s an artsy girl with unusual clothing preferences and a big heart. Her father’s very strict and doesn’t allow her much freedom, and her mother doesn’t seem to dare go against him. Bettina is a well-rounded character, and though she didn’t do much for me, I did like her. Her family’s also a bit of a mess, but in the end it’s a good mess. The Things You Kiss Goodbye is not one of those novels with absent parents – Bettina’s parents are highly involved in her life and are very present throughout the book.
The Things You Kiss Goodbye touches on a lot of things: family, abuse, loss, illness… I think it’s mostly handled well, but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more focus on the abuse. Of course there’s a lot of that going on, but around halfway through I felt the perspective shifted a little and I felt a bit disappointed that there wasn’t given more attention to the abuse. It’s a big topic, and I think that maybe The Things You Kiss Goodbye wanted to do a little too much within too little pages. However, most topics it touches on are actually handled pretty well.
The romance in The Things You Kiss Goodbye was one I liked. Of course, it’s obvious that Bettina and Cowboy are meant to be from the beginning, but I liked their relationship. Cowboy is a lot older than Bettina, but I still found myself shipping them. Or maybe I found myself shipping them because of it, because I’m a sucker for relationships with age differences in books (I have no idea why that is, but age difference = instant ship. I do not know how my brain works, really.) You should be warned though, the age difference is pretty big. If I’m not wrong, it’s 16 and 26 years old. If this kind of thing bothers you, you might have a hard time with The Things You Kiss Goodbye. However, Cowboy was very sweet and caring, though not without his faults, and I really liked him.
Overall, The Things You Kiss Goodbye was a solid read and quite enjoyable. Though I missed a lack of connection to the characters, it was well done and handled the different topics it touched on pretty well. This isn’t just about romance, but also about family and freedom and growing up. It’s a good book, but I’m afraid I failed to connect with it emotionally. It’s not you, it’s me.
~Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for sending me a review copy!~
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