There are so many ways a first kiss can happen. Jon Scieszka’s first kiss happened in the seventh grade in the school gym. Shannon and Dean Hale’s first kiss with each other occurred on the couch after watching The Empire Strikes Back. Deb Caletti’s took place outside a bowling alley, and Cecil Castellucci’s first kiss was on “the island” in her neighborhood. Quite a bit of time has passed since their first kisses, but these twenty-two writers and illustrators of teen books write about their first kiss as if it were yesterday.
The first kiss is usually the most memorable, but not always the most meaningful. Micol Ostow was only sixteen when her first kiss happened, but she remembers “his top teeth ground into my bottom lip while we kissed.” Donna Jo Napoli was in the eighth grade when she experienced her first kiss “that counted.” She remembers the smell of Patrick’s cologne and the taste of onion dip. Roz Chast draws a one-page cartoon about her first kisses. The kiss at age twelve she saw coming, but the kiss at age thirteen she didn’t. The surprise kiss is the one that almost made her faint.
It’s hard to forget your first kiss - even when you wish you could. Amy Kim Ganter remembers her first kiss with her college boyfriend: “All I could think about was the saliva and sloppiness of it.” It wasn’t until her third “first” kiss she experienced a kiss “just the like the ones in my dreams.” The story Justine Larbalestier shares concerns her best friend’s first kiss. It’s entitled “Pashin’ or the Worst Kiss Ever.” I have to agree; it’s a pretty bad kiss. This kiss resulted in a horrible mess and a distasteful memory.
It can be hard to wait for your first kiss, but Deb Caletti’s story reminds readers to guard their first kiss. If you’re not careful, that first kiss can be taken away unexpectedly and by the wrong person. Amy Kim Ganter’s story proves though that being patient is worthwhile; her third first kiss resulted in a happy marriage.
For those who haven’t been kissed or who are on the verge of being kissed, these stories help clear up a bit of the mystery surrounding kissing. They are also a reminder that kisses should count. Make them real and save them for those who mean something to you.
Cylin Busby is the editor of First Kiss (Then Tell). This author of the Date Him or Dump Him series has some wonderful advice in the First Kiss (Then Tell) introduction on how to keep first kisses going forever. In addition to the nineteen stories compiled for this book, there are kissing quotes, a list of the “Top Ten Worst Pre-Kiss Foods,” a page on movie kisses, and a small section called “The Evolution of the Kiss.” And for readers who want to read more by the contributors to this book, short biographies appear after each author’s story.
Ranging from a three-line poem to a fourteen-page story, this collection of first kiss memories is enjoyable to read. The circumstances surrounding the first kisses make the stories interesting, and the different opinions and points of view make the stories entertaining. For me, the most memorable story in the book is about the first kiss that was prepared for over and over again but never happened. The story does end on a happy note, though, with the appearance of a boy and his unexpected kiss. Some authors were happy they conquered their first kiss, and some were bewildered afterwards - what did it mean, and when would it happen again? The kisses in this book vary in terms of intensity, awkwardness and unpleasantness, but the authors reminisce with vivid recall and complete honesty. Recommended.