Bibliographic information: Kissing Kate. Lauren Myracle. Speak, 2003. $7.99. 198p. ISBN-13: 9780329588694.
Summary: Lissa and Kate were best friends, they understood each other, until that night at the party. Kate was drinking a lot, but Lissa was 100 percent sober and they started discussing what it would be like to kiss another girl. So, Kate decided to kiss Lissa and Lissa kissed Kate back. That is when their friendship ended. Lissa actually liked kissing Kate, but Kate didn’t even want to talk about it because she was too afraid of what other people would think of her. So, Lissa gave Kate her space and tried to move on. A new girl started at her job, and it just happened to be the annoyingly cheerful outsider from school, and no matter how hard Lissa tried to stay away from her, the girl was too persistent and before she knew it, Lissa had a new friend. One who was helping her through her struggles and hard time, she was there to help Lissa sort out her emotions and feelings towards Kate.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Myracle is known for her controversial materials that tend to make the most challenged books list, but all of her novels are fabulous and Kissing Kate is one of them. This is a story of the relationship between two best friends that went horribly awry after they kissed at a party. Lissa is going through a tough time trying to deal with being a lesbian and losing her best friend at the same time. Myracle does a great job of portraying the struggles that young gay, lesbian, and bisexual go through at school and at home. Even Kate doesn’t want to admit she is a lesbian or at least bisexual because people will think differently of her. Lissa manages to find an unexpected friend who understands her and her differences. This book just goes to show you that sometimes people you never thought could be your friend can and sometimes those you think are your friend are not. This is a wonderful book for young adults who are also struggling to fit in when they feel so much more different from others. There is nothing wrong with any of the sexual orientations you may choose. Some of the more conservative parents may not appreciate the positive views Myracle puts on lesbian relationships, even though it shouldn’t matter who you love.
Readers’ annotation: It all changed the night she kissed her, and liked it. How will Lissa deal with her new-found ideals?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Many teens are struggling to understand their feelings and sexual preferences. Kissing Kate is a great example to show teens that they are not alone with their struggles. It happens more often than they may think. Myracle writes true honest stories that teens can relate to. This book will give them a sense of peace and help them discover who they are and want to be and let them know that they should not be afraid to be who they are.
Issues present: This title portrays lesbianism as positive. Many people do not see lesbianism as positive and will object to this title, but they should understand that there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian and everybody should be allowed to be who they are without conflict. This book gives lesbians hope and lets them know that they can express themselves without being ridiculed. One’s sexuality is not a choice, it is a part of who they were born.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Lissa and Kate’s characters.
She kissed her. That’s how it all ended. – go dramatic.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: GLBTQ, love, relationships
Readalikes: Annie on my Mind, Boy Meets Boy, Alex Sanchez novels, David Levithan novels
Author’s website: http://laurenmyracle.com
Awards: YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award winner (2004), Recommended Reads for Tweens (2003)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Kissing-Kate-Lauren-Myracle/pid=310226; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-525-46917-9; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-1021815.xml
Why I chose it: I had heard a lot of controversy over Lauren Myracle’s novels in another class and wanted to read one but couldn’t get myself to read one of her text message or IM titles, so I chose this one and it seemed pretty interesting. Turned out to be really good.