Released: January 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Challenge: Debut Authors 2012
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Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy are the misfits of tiny Paris, Texas. Their whole lives, they've dreamed of escaping small-town life and seeing the world. So when Piper is the victim of an embarrassing prank that goes viral online, she gets the idea that the girls should escape via the school's international exchange program, in search of fun, love, and Internet redemption. To add spice to their semesters away - and to stay connected to their best friends while apart - the girls start the International Kissing Club, a Facebook fan page where they can anonymously update one another on all the amazing guys they're meeting. Lucky for them, amazing guys abound at every turn! But sometimes fun, flirty vacation flings turn into serious romances, and sometimes you don't return from abroad the same person you were. Will the girls' romances - and their friendship - survive?When I heard about The International Kissing Club, I expected a shallow, fun story about girls kissing as many guys as they can. Boy, was I wrong! This book has such depth, such emotion - from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other and back again.
The four girls are really different from each other, and their friendship is great to read about. Their home lives all suck, which at first hit me as weird that all four have problems (well, not Mei so much), and that they lead such relatively normal lives despite the emotional abuse they endure at home. So the first quarter of the book, while they're all still in Paris, Texas, had me questioning a bit - while I was enjoying watching the girls concoct this ridiculous plan and wondering what on earth would be the result of it all.
And then, once they all go away and start with the romance, I LOVE it! Reading this was like living out a fantasy - going to some exotic foreign country and meeting a deliciously gorgeous and amazing guy... For a book with "kissing" in the title, IKC really delivers in that area! The kissing scenes are so perfect - sweet and emotional - and they're written so well, I almost felt the tingles myself whenever one of the girls did.
What I love most about it, though, is as I said - it's not at all shallow. Every single relationship in the story has meaning, and the girls all learn things about themselves via these relationships. Yes, the guys they hook up with are dreamy, but unintentionally they bring out the best in the girls - and what girl doesn't want a guy who can do that, focus on her exclusively and not on himself?
And the emotion throughout the book is so real. Apart from the heady feelings of falling in love, the girls have to grapple with so many different feelings, from confusion about identity to betrayal to heartbreak. The second half of the book deals with all these dark and swirling emotions, and it's done so beautifully that I felt for each girl, even when they were facing off against each other.
So with depth and meaning, but awash with flirtatious fun as well, The International Kissing Club ROCKS!
Oh - and just look at that cover!