Confessions of a Serial Kisser, by Wendelin Van Draanen

Seventeen-year-old Evangeline Logan, the heroine of Wendelin Van Draanen’s new YA novel Confessions of a Serial Kisser, has a lot in common with the eponymous star of her kid-friendly Sammy Keyes mystery series. Both girls are smart, resourceful, and fearless—but while Sammy uses her many talents to foil gang members and rescue endangered birds, Evangeline uses hers to identify, hunt down, and kiss the most desirable boys in her grade.

Inspired by two of her mother’s books (a romance novel called The Crimson Kiss and a self-help book called Four Steps to Living Your Fantasy), Evangeline decides that her #1 goal in life is an absolutely perfect kiss. Unfortunately, the quest for a perfect kiss turns out to be a perilous one, and Evangeline’s formerly quiet, peaceful existence turns into a confusing mess of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and really, really bad kissing*.

Confessions of a Serial Kisser requires its readers to suspend a lot of disbelief. Evangeline appears to be the world’s most self-confident teenager—she kicks off her kissing mission by giving herself a makeover, marching off to school, and kissing everyone from a popular jock to a random guy she meets at Starbucks. Her classmates’ reactions are equally unrealistic: Evangeline’s take-no-prisoners kiss hunt results in rumors, a few nasty exchanges with angry girlfriends, and her name on some bathroom walls, but there’s no nasty whispering about STDs, pregnancies, or possible nymphomania (all of which would have spread like wildfire around my high school).

Despite its teen-oriented premise and high school setting, Confessions of a Serial Kisser has more in common with the idealized world of the Penderwicks series than the cutthroat social politics of books like Gossip Girl. (We’re certainly not arguing that Gossip Girl is a great example of social realism, but most high school kids are pretty judgmental—how else are they supposed to fill those long, boring school hours?) Van Draanen is always an entertaining storyteller, and her novel’s “find your true passion” message is sweet and inspiring, but the PG-rated wholesomeness of Confessions of a Serial Kisser is distractingly implausible.

*Fish lips, ear-licking, mouth-smashing, seriously poor aim, et cetera. Here’s hoping Van Draanen wasn’t drawing on personal experience....
Posted by: Julianka


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