Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him. But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina. Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else. 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 rating: 3 out of 5 stars To say I had low expectations for this novel would be an understatement. It sounded like a very typical story about a love triangle, and I assumed it would be predictable. The Things You Kissed Goodbye surprised me by disproving both of those assumptions! I most definitely would not have predicted that ending, and the story is so much more than just a love triangle. So even though I had some issues with the melodrama and the later developments of the plot, I really enjoyed The Things You Kiss Goodbye! When the synopsis claims that Brady changes and is no longer the "sweet boy" Bettina fell for, I assumed the two would have some issues and just weren't right for each other. What the synopsis doesn't tell us (and which I think it should, since it starts fairly early on in the novel), is that this is not just a bad relationship; it's an abusive one. Brady isn't abusive in the traditional sense, as he doesn't actually purposely beat Bettina, but he does hurt her physically, brushing it off as games, and he is most definitively emotionally abusive. I really enjoyed the exploration of this abusive relationship (although I guess "enjoy" isn't the right word for this kind of story) - Bettina's conflicted feelings are excellently done. I really liked Bettina's relationship with Cowboy, too. I didn't think I could like this relationship because the fact that she calls him Cowboy would bother me too much, and I did think that part was kind of weird, but I still really liked reading about their budding friendship and potential romance. Cowboy is such a sweet character, and I loved getting little glimpses into his life. The chemistry between Cowboy and Bettina is great, and I just loved reading about them. I love that Bettina's parents are fully developed characters. Oftentimes, when parents in YA are super strict, they are just unreasonable and unrealistic, and the novel doesn't even try to explain why. And I'm so glad that's not the case here. Yes, Bampas is incredibly strict, and his conservative and kind of sexist views bothered me. But we get some insight into his reasoning, and while of course I didn't agree with him, I at least sort of understood where he was coming from. Bettina's mom is a great character, too, and I loved getting insight into the parents' relationship. Understanding her parents made Bettina's story a lot more believable and relatable for me. So, basically, I loved everything... up until the last 100 pages. The whole ending just didn't work for me. I can't really talk about this in detail without spoiling anything, but everything just moved waaaay too fast. The change in Bettina and Cowboy's relationship is too abrupt and melodramatic, and Bettina's and Brady's relationship is resolved too quickly, just like Bettina's issues with her dad. There's a really big plot twist, and I just don't think that was necessary - it's an interesting idea, but because there's barely any time left in the novel, it is completely underdeveloped. That made it feel unrealistic and just melodramatic. The ending - by which I mean the last 100 pages - ruined most of what I enjoyed about the rest of this book. I had a hard time trying to figure out how to rate The Things You Kiss Goodbye because I loved everything about the story, until a rushed and melodramatic ending just kind of ruins it. I don't really know whether or not to recommend this book - I really liked Leslie Connor's writing and all of the storylines are excellently done, at first. But the rushed and melodramatic ending substantially subtracted from the enjoyment I got out of the novel, and it did not do any of these characters or storylines justice.
Hi! I'm a 21-year-old college student originally from Germany going to school in the US, studying English Literature, Spanish, and Queer Studies. When I'm not reading for school, I mainly read Young Adult books, especially contemporary, which is mostly what I review here. I also contribute to Feminists Talk Books (http://www.paperbacktreasures.blogspot.com).
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