Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List*
By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
2010, HarperTeen, 304 pages
NAOMI AND ELY ARE BEST FRIENDS. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their "No Kiss List" of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine—until Bruce. Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But Ely kissed Bruce even though he is boring. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of "Naomi and Ely: the institution." Can these best friends come back together again?
— Amazon.com description
Plus side: Every chapter was told from a different point of view. Not just Naomi's and Ely's, but all the random figures who played some part in their friendship drama. Usually I find this device confusing, but here I found it hilarious and insightful. It played to the overall theme that relationships (whether they're romantic or friendly or familial) are complicated, confusing and hard work for EVERYONE involved.
Cohn and Levithan's writing style together was spot-on as always. Okay, so maybe their characters sound a little more O.C. than real life, but with emoticons and mix tape playlists used to tell the story, it kept me interested and kept things delightfully informal.
And let's talk about sex, baby. Well, sexuality. David Levithan is the guru of writing gay characters in YA, so it's no surprise that this book explored its characters' sexual identities head-on. That's something that I'd like to see more of in the YA marketplace.
Down side: Some of the pop culture references were just TOO hip. I'm a cool girl. I like cool things.** I didn't get half the cool things mentioned in this book. That made me feel uncool. No one likes to feel uncool. And besides the wound to my ego, there were some phrases that were worded too obscurely to understand. Gabriel describes his racial background as "Mother from the land of the midnight sun via the land of the rising sun." Am I just slow? Does anyone know what that means? I'm going to have to Google it.
Moral of the story: "Saying you're friends is easy. Being friends is not," Ely says.
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* Any other copy editors out there? Is it just me, or should this title have a hyphen in it?
** In my oh-so-humble opinion.