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The Things You Kiss Goodbye

Review

The Things You Kiss Goodbye

For Bettina Vasilis, growing up in a traditional Greek family is not easy. Her strict, no-nonsense father prefers that Bettina stay home where she belongs, rather than actually have a social life, which cements her position as an outsider at her high school. So when Brady Cullen, rising star of the basketball team, asks her out, the only thing that surprises Bettina more is that her father agrees to let her date him. Brady is a perfectly sweet boyfriend and they spend a blissful summer together, but Bettina’s enchantment with Brady begins to evaporate as the new school year commences.

The author treats the subject of abuse with an adept hand and, compounded with the old-fashioned dynamics of Bettina’s family, crafts an arresting and complex novel.

Popular Brady now has the adoring eyes of the whole school upon him and expects his girlfriend to play a certain part. Brady becomes both emotionally and physically abusive towards Bettina as he coerces her into joining the cheerleading squad, humiliates her in front of his jock friends, and inflicts bruises on her, all with the excuse that he is just “joking around.” It is after one of Brady’s particularly abusive moments that Bettina runs into “Cowboy,” an older guy who works at an auto shop near the high school. Cowboy’s shop becomes the only safe haven for Bettina, and the two kindle a deep friendship despite the age difference. But Bettina knows her relationship with Cowboy cannot go any further because her father would never approve. Neither can she bring herself to end things with Brady, her first love, preferring to make excuses for his cruel behavior. But when an unexpected tragedy occurs, Bettina must face some hard truths and muster the courage and strength to confront the men in her life.

THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE pulls readers into the heart of Bettina’s world with a gripping, emotionally wrought tale. Bettina’s feelings of frustration, pain, love and solace are artfully portrayed. The author treats the subject of abuse with an adept hand and, compounded with the old-fashioned dynamics of Bettina’s family, crafts an arresting and complex novel. Although the ending feels a bit rushed, the relationships that Bettina has with each character provide a compelling exploration of human interactions and will truly resonate with readers.

Reviewed by Sabrina Abballe on June 25, 2014

The Things You Kiss Goodbye
by Leslie Connor

  • Publication Date: June 24, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • ISBN-10: 0060890916
  • ISBN-13: 9780060890919