Saturday, June 21, 2014

ARC Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

The Things You Kiss Goodbye
Author: Leslie Connor
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (June 24, 2014)

Description: Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this heartbreaking story about family, loss, and the joys and disappointments of first love.

Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when star basketball player Brady Cullen convinces her strict father to let them date. That summer, Bettina falls in love with Brady and the freedom that comes along with him. But when school starts up again, Brady unexpectedly changes for the worse. Unable to give up on her first love just yet, she finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship.

Then she meets "Cowboy," a smoldering older guy and the last guy her father would approve. Yet he is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina. When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

My Thoughts: Bettina Vasilis is the arty, loner type. She is rebelling against her strict, traditional Greek father by living in leather and boots and doing all sorts of henna tattoos. She is a talented dancer but gives it up when her best friend and fellow dancer moves away and her father starts talking about how hard it is to schedule all the driving around now that her younger brothers are in Little League.

When she meets a shy basketball player named Brady Cullen she begins sneaking out to see him. He manages to convince her father to let them date officially. In order for them to spend more time together, Bettina goes out for cheerleading despite having no interest in it and despite the fact that the other girls ignore her. Things are great for a while but after a few months of dating, Brady changes. He is starting to get rough with Bettina who keeps making excuses for him.

Once after he crushed her fingers and left the imprint of her school ring on her hand, she ran and met a young man who cared for her. She called him Cowboy and started spending time at the garage where he restores old cars. The two form a friendship despite their age difference. They also find that the have some things in common. Cowboy's mother abused him when he was younger and still does occasionally now. She lost her husband and her other sons because of her behavior but Cowboy hangs on. Cowboy is the opposite of Brady. He listens to Bettina, treats her gently, and cares about her. But he isn't someone Bettina's father would ever approve of.

The story is filled with a girl trying to deal with her father's rules, her boyfriend's abuse, and a new growing love. It was intense and engaging and heart-breaking. I can't wait to share it with my high school girls.

Favorite Quote:
A party, and the words I want you there with me. Boy, did that sound good.

"Okay," I said. "We'll make a plan."

Mangled fingers would heal. I made a choice. Fili antio. I kissed the incident goodbye.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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