Skip to main content

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Review

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Naomi and Ely are best friends who have known each other since childhood. They've planned their entire lives together. They sleep in each other's beds. They wear each other's clothes. Together they've weathered Ely coming out of the closet and Naomi's father having an affair with Ely's mother. It seems there is nothing that can separate them. Just to be sure, they've assembled a No Kiss List of people who are off-limits to both of them. There is only one problem: Naomi is in love with Ely, and Ely has just kissed her boyfriend.

NAOMI AND ELY'S NO KISS LIST is the second collaboration between Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Their first, the giddy and charming NICK & NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, took place in a very similar version of Manhattan with both books featuring key scenes at the same nightclub. However, where INFINITE PLAYLIST was about two people coming together, NO KISS LIST is about the entity of Naomi and Ely coming apart.

The fact that NO KISS LIST is about a breakup makes it less fun to read than INFINITE PLAYLIST. The central characters here are also less likable than Nick and Norah. Naomi is a heartbreaker who only has eyes for her gay best friend. Ely is promiscuous and tends to treat both his partners and friends as disposable. Many of the characters on the outside of the Naomi and Ely relationship secretly resent the exclusiveness of their friendship, creating complications once the two split.

The point of NO KISS LIST is that it is necessary for Naomi and Ely to have their hearts broken to be able to participate in relationships with people other than one another. Ultimately, Cohn and Levithan resolve the conflict with some hope and growth for each of the characters, but the novel is less happy-go-lucky than previous books from either author. It's almost as if, having explored primarily positive-growth territory --- as in Cohn's Gingerbread series and Levithan's earlier offerings that include BOY MEETS BOY and THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY --- the two are ready to expand into the more painful side of gender identity and interpersonal conflict.

While not as satisfying as some of their past work, NAOMI AND ELY'S NO KISS LIST deals with the complicated cocktail of emotions that are an inevitable part of adolescence. Readers will identify with the frustration of unrequited love and ruined friendships. They can also hope that, as in the case of Naomi and Ely, it is never too late for old friends or new love.

Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood on October 18, 2011

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

  • Publication Date: August 28, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375844406
  • ISBN-13: 9780375844409