Publishing Info: May 24, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 10, 2016
Breaking up with her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. And so she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.
From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the breakup doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Anna Michels’s debut is the story of one girl who realizes that moving on from the supposed love of your life means taking a chance—and having the courage to love again.
I was looking for a cute new contemporary book when I decided to pick up 26 KISSES and admittedly was instantly attracted by the cover! I read it during a few cold February days and 26 KISSES instantly transported me to a warm and happy summer! The setting was delightfully familiar and vivid (summer in a small Michigan town in the dunes) and I could just picture myself there. The book was quick, fun, and super cute and I’m so glad that I read this one early so I can start recommending it to everyone!
26 KISSES is the story of Veda who just got dumped in the beginning of the summer before her senior year. Long story short, to help her get over her ex, best friend Mel devises a silly and fun game for Veda where she has to kiss her way through the alphabet (find a guy whose name begins with A, B, C, etc and kiss him in order). I was a bit wary at first because although I feel like a single girl can do whatever she wants, I was still hesitant about make-out sessions with so many guys (I know others have expressed these concerns as well). I was happy to discover that Anna Michels did a great job with the book and mixing things up, keeping things realistic, and keeping them grounded. Mel’s Alphabet Plan made any kiss fair game — on the hand, on the cheek, on the lips — and not all of them had to be romantic kisses to count (although that was her main plan). Some were silly, others were sweet, and others had reminded me of experiences of my own back in high school. I thought everything was very tastefully handled and very well done! Also important were Veda’s reactions to each kiss and how she felt after each one of them. From bliss to embarrassment to courage, each one helped Veda discover something about herself and gain a little bit more self-awareness.
The romance was really cute! I really liked Killian a lot and I felt like there was a lot to discover about him. I really appreciated how the relationship between Veda and Killian starts off as a friendship and then an attraction develops. They both sort of like each other right off the bat but I appreciated that they got to know each other, spend time together, and ended up kindling that little fire of attraction instead of straight up exploding their way into insta-love. The whole thing felt very natural and it was also super adorable! I always love when characters begin as friends and since Veda doesn’t want to jump into another relationship right away, the two end up getting to know each other more first before starting to let the feelings in.
I also really enjoyed the family and friend dynamic. Veda is going through a bit of a crisis in both departments as she notices her two best friends possibly falling for each other and tries to maintain balance in her family life. She doesn’t know how to react to Mel and Seth as they start to exhibit signs of attraction because she fears it’ll ruin the friendship dynamic. I loved how we really got to see her go through a range of reactions from feeling selfish to wanting her best friends to be happy and trying to figure out what the best thing for everyone was. I also loved the realistic family dynamic and how not everything fell into a stereotype. While Veda doesn’t like her new mother-in-law, she simply adores her half-sister and it was great to see that she didn’t resent her because she is the daughter of her dad’s new wife. There was also a wonderful relationship between Veda and her mother and how she and her brother end up trying to maintain that morale now that her dad is gone.
The only thing I wasn’t super keen on was the rumors of Veda going around after she started her kissing challenge. Obviously people will talk when they hear/see random kissing with multiple guys going on but I was upset that the word “slut” was thrown around, and I’m not one to ever really get upset about slut shaming. I feel like it could have been the same situation but without name-calling and the use of that word. (Also note that no one ever actually directly calls her a slut. She finds out about rumors and says it about herself because she’s feeling guilty so maybe an important note to those who are very anti-slut shaming).
Overall, 26 KISSES was SO cute and so much fun! It’s definitely one I’ll be recommending for fans of contemporary, especially those who like the feel-good romance authors like Kasie West and Stephanie Perkins. It’s light and fun but not fluffy (there’s plenty of substance) and really good things happening all around! I can’t wait for more books from Anna Michels! I will definitely be reading them!
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Veda // Character Obsessions: Exes, kissing, friendship, summer.
I could see a lot of myself in Veda and I really appreciated how much she grew up over the summer featured in the book. I loved that she ended up finding herself and her own way, separate from a boyfriend and even independent of her friends.
Killian // Character Obsessions: Work, debate, Veda.
Killian was very cute and I really liked him a lot! At times he felt a little TOO good, which sounds silly because doesn’t everyone want someone who really will treat them that well? But he was just a very nice guy. I think I could have used a little more flirty teasing from him!
Kept Me Hooked On: Kissing books. Kidding! I always like kissing books. But with the “excessive” kissing in this book (that some people may feel is a lot), I really loved how everything was handled as well as put into perspective.
Left Me Wanting More: Humor. This book really wasn’t missing anything but if there’s one thing I can pick, I guess I’d love if there was a bit more humor! I’m thinking things like where St. Clair yells across the lunchroom to Anna to embarrass her — that kind of thing. Just funny and silly little things that really bring characters and situations to life. Plus, I always love some flirty teasing!
If you love cute contemporaries, you should totally pick up 26 KISSES! It has great friends, family, setting, and content!
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(Click the cover to see my review!)