‘Kissing Kate’ by Lauren Myracle

In the closing stages of 2013 I managed to squeeze in book number 26 (I know this total number of books read is ridiculously low). I was actually really looking forward to reading Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle because it’s a novel for my people, a story about a queer teenage girl and it was actually better than I expected it would be.

Kissing Kate cover

The story starts with Lissa who had a falling out with her best friend Kate about what we soon learn was a kiss shared between them. This is actually an interesting concept because THE THING has already happened when the book starts and a lot of the events are told through looking back, even how the two of them met way back in the day. Now I get that’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it worked for me. So many stories start with the building up to this moment whereas everything has already happened here. Lissa also has an impressionable little sister Beth and the both of them live with their uncle Jerry because their parents died a couple of years ago.

So, on top of the gay teen feels, this book also gave me dead parents feels but it was actually a nice read and I like it when a story manages to touch my heart. It takes a while until the reader gets all the information about what happened between Lissa and Kate and THE THING is kinda stupid (and done to death at this point) but it’s still good to mention. Kate the popular cheerleader just went on as if nothing had happened between the two of them whereas Lissa actually thinks she might be gay. Throughout all of this we’re introduced to a bunch of other characters such as the quirky Ariel, well that’s her spiritual name, her real one is Kimberly. While I was prepared to hate Ariel I actually learned I liked her as the story progressed and I love it when stories doe that; make you change your opinion on a certain character. She becomes an important person for Lissa’s journey of her self-discovery.

I also liked the relationship Lissa has with her uncle and little sister. Jerry is the kind of guy who never expected to take care of kids and while he tries his best, of course he can’t substitute Lissa’s mother but I love that he tries and you can tell he really cares about the girls. What I was a bit disappointed with was that Lissa never opened up to him or even attempted to come out. I wanted to see this awkward moment between them where he tells her it’s okay and maybe offers to hug her  but as that’s really not their thing, they just look at each other weirdly for a moment or something like that.

Also, the story ends kind of abruptly and the reader doesn’t really learn if Kate and Lissa ever manage to look past what happened between them. My guess is that Kate has internalised homophobia because she reacts so strongly to Lissa’s attempts at even speaking about it. Maybe that’s just my interpretation though.

The novel also spends a big part on talking about lucid dreaming which is something I’m not a fan of. While I can’t be sure if my experiences count as lucid dreaming but I think they do only for me it’s always accompanied by sleep paralysis and I feel awful after waking up. I know I’m dreaming but I can’t move my body and can’t even manage to wake up, such a terrible feeling. So it’s a bit strange for me to see these girls being so passionate about it. This all serves a point in the story but for me I was hit with a flight instinct.

Whom I also really liked was Beth, she gets her own little empowerment subplot which I think is awesome. She is ten and faced with a new girl in class who is so much more developed in her way of thinking (boys and make up and all those things) but is also a real idiot if I may say so. Lissa knows it but Beth needs to learn for herself that this girl is not as great as she seems to be, which she does by the end of the novel and I wanted to high-five her.

All in all, this was a typical coming out story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that stories like these exist but sometimes you wish for a story that goes beyond this part, where everything has already happened and you are presented with this strong gay character being out and proud. Someone you can look up to instead of reading about coming out over and over again. I guess there are just certain stages of learning who you are and for the first one this is really good but soon you just crave more in this heteronormative society. Nevertheless this is a cute story and better written than anticipated, so thumbs up from me. I’ll end this with some quotes. Maybe they lose their greatness by being out of context but I still like them.

“You know, what are you good at?” She said it so easily, like everyone was good at something.

I felt that way a lot, like I had thoughts within me but it took a long time for them to bubble to the surface. By that point, most people had lost interest.

But on the screen, when I glanced back one last time, colors flowed between us as if we were connected.

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