Publication: June 24, 2014, by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Abuse
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.
Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.
I'm completely and just about the most crippled I've been in a while. The Things You Kiss Goodbye is nothing like what the cover may tell you it is. Sure, it's cute and fresh and light, but it is incorporated with abuse, a subject that affects girls so often these days that it's about time we are touched upon with a read that'll leave us how I'm feeling right now: feeling the need to stand up. This was super memorable and touching.
I've been wanting to read this one for a long time now but I've always had the expectation of it being a pure contemporary romance love story with a love triangle. I can't even imagine someone sticking on Brady's side, the guy who begins to hurt Bettina as "a joke." It's not something that's focused on the love triangle. There's so much of the book focused on the loss and "kissing goodbye" which Bettina does after a tragedy that literally shook me in my seat. It's a true different read that more people have to pick up.
"Brady Cullen became my beacon. He was my boy my father would let me go out with. Brady picked me. Bampas picked Brady. I flew free—a couple of times a week." (Hardcover, page 17)
Bettina comes from a Greek background where her parents are super strict on everything she does. She's not allowed to get a job, date, go anywhere after school—it's everything a teenager would dread in their life. When Brady Cullen asks her out, she's astonished and would love to, but she knows that her father would never allow it. Somehow, he does and she has the best summer of a lifetime with him. When school starts again, he's changed and begins to hurt her. Small things, pulling her long braid or 'accidentally' pinching her. She hates it but loves him at the same time. When she meets Cowboy, she can't get enough of him. He's older, works as a car mechanic and has a smile that can make her belly flop. When tragedy strikes (and it fucking does hurt) she learns her lesson.
And that lesson is that love's completely messed up.
It is for Bettina. Fate can always destroy everything that may have had a chance to turn better and beautiful. When Bettina met Cowboy, her life changed completely and she finally felt that she could be loved for real. He loved her too. And then fate kicks in at the worst possible moment and the title of the novel kicks in. She has to kiss her love goodbye because it's destroyed. And me as a reader felt so bad. No, I hadn't cried, but the feels were present and kicked in my stomach. I wanted to cry for Bettina and all that she lost, adding to the struggles of her life and how unfair everything seems to be. Looking at the ending of the book, I was completely shocked with the way things turned out, how Bettina became happy again. But yet again, you just have to because you won't be able to live with your troubles on your mind all the time.
"Pain is... a message. Time for heart, body, and soul." (Hardcover, page 344)I love that quote. And this just shows how great of an author Leslie Connor is. Yes, I've actually read her middle-grade novels in the past and hadn't enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed this, but I'm glad that she moved to YA with this great read. There's not too much hype surrounding it for the reason that people are disliking Bettina's character and all, but I guess that's what my role here is. I'LL RAISE THE HYPE AND GET EVERYONE OBSESSED! Here are some reasons why: romance, loss, abuse and gloomy issues.
The cover of this book looks so merry and cheerful, right? Don't let that fool you. Abuse was a subject incorporated with Bettina's first relationship, and that's like the worst first love experience ever. I'm glad to see that her strong, independent character didn't want to let that abuse feed off and make it look like it isn't a big deal. Once or twice, that's okay. But hurting her knee, causing her to limp? That's something that's completely unreal. Cheers to a memorable character with a horrifying experience. And abuse is just one of the things that she had to deal with—loss was another one, right when she was going to announce something huge to her strict family.
Silas and Bettina...? They're a match made from heaven, I'll tell you that. Fuck the 9 or 10 year difference between them, you know? Like Bettina's mother said, love is supportable at almost any age. And because they had such an affection for each other, they'd wait to actually start their official relationship off by announcing it to the public. And then all of the readers' hearts got shattered, like mine, and we all died of sadness. I never saw that coming. I don't think that anyone did, because everything was so mellow and sweet and Bettina had gone through enough to suffer more. How can you move on after something that tragic? You just can't. Thankfully she had her awesome mother by her side as a friend, Bonnie and Emmy too.
Leslie's writing is pretty freaking awesome. From page one, I was intrigued and wanted to read past my bedtime (which was impossible since my eyes were literally shutting), but I ended up keeping the rest for one sitting where I'll finish it for sure. Other than some slow parts in the middle surrounding the progression of Cowboy and Bettina's relationship, the novel can be classified as a favourite for me. I don't want to kiss this wonderful read goodbye...
You know how there are some novels that aren't your ultimate favourite but you feel that they're so special and deserve a gracious spot on your bookshelf? The Things You Kiss Goodbye is one of them. Better read this without looking through the summary to give you a thrill, because I certainly never saw the plot twists and dark gloomy mood coming. Those books do usually turn out more splendid though. It's your pick, my fellow friends who'll ship this relationship so bad.