By: Celine | June 18, 2014 | (26) Comments

Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie ConnorThe Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
Publisher: HarperTeen
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!~

3.5 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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26 Responses to Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

  1. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book but I think ultimately for me, I need that connection to the characters to make it a good book. I’m still curious about this one since it just sounds like so much fun but I don’t think I’ll pick it up for awhile. Loved your review Celine! 😀
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…June New Release: Giveaway Blog HopMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yeah, it was really unfortunate that I missed that connection because I think it would have made me like the book much more! Thanks, Laura <33

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that 🙁 it’s quite difficult to connect with contemporary in my opinion. I think it’s just me because I hate contemporaries but I did read a lot of them this summer HAHA I think I should give this a go since you’ve liked it enough. I like abusive relationships since they’re interesting and frustrating in a good way. HAHA
    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture recently posted…To all the books I’ve loved before TAG! JOIN THE FUN!My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I personally love contemporaries! They’re definitely my go-to books 😛 I always think abusive relationships are really interesting to read about 🙂

  3. It’s sad that you didn’t connect with this book. I always feel a little depressed after reading a book and not feeling it. Great review.
    Bethzaida (bookittyblog) recently posted…Pic2Book Wednesday Challenge #101My Profile

  4. The age difference miiiiight irk me. I mean, that’s 10 years! But I do want to meet this Cowboy guy. The sweet and caring love interests are my favorites! And I’m curious about how the abuse is handled… I’ll probably check this out! Lovely review, Celine!
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      The age difference IS pretty big! I can definitely imagine having trouble with that. I just have a weird brain so naturally I shipped it, lol.

      Thankk you, Aimee <33

  5. Siiri says:

    I’m glad you liked this as a whole even though you clearly wasn’t absolutely amazed by it. I love that it’s an issue book. I’ve seen so many good and a few negative reviews lately that I think I need to explore this myself. I’m so glad you enjoyed the romance, but the age difference, wow. That’s a little.. too rough since 16 is just a kid (imo) and 26 yr old (most of the time) is a full grown man O.o Um, ok. That makes me a tad uncomfortable. Great review, lovely!
    Siiri recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #16My Profile

    • Celine says:

      I can definitely see why it makes you uncomfortable! It’s a pretty big age difference. I know I’m in the minority with not minding, haha. (And with “not minding” I mean in a book, obviously. Not in real life!)

      It’s definitely an interesting book, though I think it could have done more. Curious to see what you’ll think! 🙂

  6. I started this and DNF but I do plan on listening to the audiobook instead. It wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t what I was expecting. My main issue was that I was in the mood for a cute contemporary and I wasn’t prepared for what I got. Now that I know, I will hopefully connect with it better when I listen to the audio.
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday (113)!My Profile

    • Celine says:

      This definitely isn’t a cute contemporary, haha. I hope you’ll like it better next time around!

      Also, because you were looking for a cute contemporary, have you read Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us and/or On the Fence? They’re amazing!

  7. 10 years is not always a big difference in the space of things, but for me, 16 year old TEENAGE girl + 26 year old MAN = I am immediately wary. It sounds quite a sweet book though, and having family highly involved is always good 🙂

    I don’t know about you, but that cover?! Urghh, no thanks. The font immediately makes me think of something by Jennifer E. Smith and the picture behind the font is weird. |:< That's my opinion anyway 😉
    Frabjous review, Celene!!
    Ella @ Once Upon a Bookish Time recently posted…What Happened Last Week: Bad Books, TFIOS Movie + Sounding Like a FrogMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I can imagine! In real life, I wouldn’t be okay with it, but for some reason I like it in books, haha.

      The cover is a bit unfortunate, yes, but it does fit the story! It’s not something I’d immediately pick up, though.

      Thank you, Ella <33

  8. Zoe N. says:

    I hear you Celine. The hardest books to review are definitely the ones that are enjoyable, but don’t touch you much beyond that. 😐

    As for the romance, I think I might be with Aimee and Ella on the drastic age difference between Cowboy and Betinna being a bit too much of a difference for my taste – especially considering Betinna is only 16. Other than that though, the romance actually sounds pretty intriguing and I’m glad you found yourself shipping them. 😉

    Thanks for sharing Celine, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! I’m glad this was still enjoyable despite the lack of connection you felt to it.
    Zoe N. recently posted…The Half Life of Molly PierceMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yes, I can definitely see why the romance might be a dealbreaker 🙂 For some reason I like age differences in books (not irl, though), haha. It IS intruiging! I really liked reading about them 🙂

      Thank you, Zoe!!

  9. Jules says:

    I don’t really have an issue with reading about relationships with age gaps, but I do admit that its kinda weird (at least for me) in reality. But the abuse is kinda mysterious to me, I wonder what would happen to them in the book.
    Jules recently posted…Book Review: The Destiny of Violet and Luke by Jessica SorensenMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Same here! Were this real life, I wouldn’t have been okay with it. But in books I kinda like it for some reason? I don’t know, haha.

      I’d say, read amd find out 😉

  10. Woah that is a huge age gap between them! I think big age gaps make me disturbed or something woah. Glad you enjoyed it though Celine!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Happy Eternity Discussions: The Fault in Our Stars Review Part 2My Profile

    • Celine says:

      I can see why, no worries. I would have found it disturbing too had this been in real life. In fiction, I like it, though 😛
      Thanks, Jeann <3

  11. Rashika says:

    I personally don’t mind age differences but the 16/26 thing did not work for me. It definitely creeped me out a little especially since she is a minor… so she isn’t even an adult and that definitely makes things tricky .-.

    I definitely agree with you, I wish there had been more of a focus on the abuse because abusive relationships are such a touchy issue and I felt like there is so much more that could have been done :/

    I am glad to see you enjoyed this book more than I did! 🙂

    Fantastic review, Celine! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: Come Back to Me by Mila GrayMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I can see why! I feel like I’m repeating myself in these comments but oh well, haha. Basically, I don’t mind it in books but I would have found it very disturbing had this been real.

      And I’m sorry you didn’t like itmore 😛 Thank you, Rashika!

  12. So far I’ve only been seeing only so-so reviews for this book, so I’m not sure I’ll check it out, if ever. The way you describe Bettina makes me want to wrap her in a nice hug, though. It sounds like she’s got it really tough for her, what with a strict father and a wimpy mother and a boy who suddenly does a whole 360 personality change. So it’s surprising that you weren’t able to really connect with her!

    But I like that the story turned out so differently from the blurb. I thought it’d be finding love again after a bad breakup, or about self-identity or something common like that. I didn’t realize it’d be about abuse, so I’m a little intrigued by that. “I think it’s mostly handled well, but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more focus on the abuse.” — I felt the same way when I read We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt! Well, the book didn’t actually deal on abusive relationships, more on the tabooed student-teacher relationship, but I also would’ve appreciated if the author had touched on it more.

    Wowza about the romance. Not quite sure what to think about it! I mean, I guess it would be okay if you can feel the chemistry there, and if the relationship is a good one, but that age difference is way to big, man. Ten years?! And she’s ONLY sixteen! A bit iffy on that. :/ But overall, I’m glad that you enjoyed this, even if there were some parts that could’ve been improved! I doubt I’ll give this one a go, since it doesn’t sound like my kind of book anyway, but great review all the same! 🙂
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    • Celine says:

      I can see why you’re iffy on the romance! If this had been a real life-story I would ahve found it very disturbing as well.

      I didn’t know We Are the Goldens had a student/teacher relationship in it! That definitely makes it more interesting 😀 I feel like maybe I’m just a sucker for tabooed relationships in books, haha. Now that I think about it, that kind of relationships do draw me to a book like a moth to a flame!

      The story surprised me, because I think it would just be some love triangle and a girl who can’t choose between them *gasp* Instead it turned out to be a lot more!

      Thanks, Megan <33

  13. Huh. For some reason I was under the assumption that this was a cute contemporary. Thanks for the heads-up! I’m glad you enjoyed it overall. I plan to start it soon. 🙂
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  14. I actually don’t mind the age difference haha. I’m in such a relationship as well so I guess that’s why it doesn’t bother me at all. Although I feel like it would have been safer if she were 18, not 16… we know what troubles may spring up when it comes to dealing with minors *cringe* It’s kinda saddening there wasn’t much focus on abusive relationships. We have so many books that romanticize that (ugh) and it would have been nice if this book helped keep that story straight and show how it can REALLY be.
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