Friday, May 14, 2010

Review of Kiss by Jacqueline Wilson

Kiss by Jacqueline Wilson; Roaring Book Press, 2010, c2007.

Carl and Sylvie, nicknamed “Titch”, are next-door neighbors and have grown up together. They have been friends since they were both very young, and Sylvie assumes that someday they will get married. They have been making up stories about “Glassworld”, and Sylvie thinks that they will eventually become famous author-illustrators. Now they are high school freshmen, and Carl has transferred to a prestigious boys’ school, and both are having adjustment problems. Sylvie is bothered because Carl is constantly talking about his pal, Paul, a soccer star at his school. Miranda, voluptuous and “boy-crazy”, has become Sylvie’s new friend, and Carl doesn’t care for her. Sylvie cannot decide why Carl has not kissed her yet. Doesn’t he love her they way she loves him? When Carl tells Sylvie that the reason he hasn’t kissed her is that he is gay, she is totally taken by surprise, but she isn’t mad. However, when Carl reveals his true feelings to Paul when trying to kiss him, Paul retaliates until Sylvie and Miranda come to his rescue!

This is a story of first love and of love scorned. Sylvie, quite likable, is portrayed as a tiny girl, hence the “Titch” nickname; her love for Carl is pure and innocent. She is the absolute opposite of Miranda, who comes across as very worldly and pushy, but turns out to be a true friend to both Sylvie and Carl. Carl, on the other hand, is your stereotypical gay guy…not into sports, extremely handsome, neat as a pin, and very artistic. Additionally, Carl’s parents seem to accept his gender issues too easily, writing it off as a phase he is going through. Also stereotypical is Paul, the quintessential jock, clowning around, slapping and hitting his friends, and acting like a “good old boy”. The gender issue is handled well, and the book is not preachy in its approach.

This novel was first published in Great Britain in 2007 by Doubleday. Since this is a British publication, there will be some words and phrases that American teens will not be familiar with. I recommend this book for high school and public libraries.