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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List* by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan- young adult book review
Also by David Levithan:

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Wide Awake
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Grades 10+ 240 pages Knopf August 2007 Hardcover    

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan team up again after their successful collaboration on Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. While the aforementioned title contains many of the same elements, Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List is a different kind of emotional journey between two teens. The dual narrators Infinite Playlist boasted make a return here in the form of multiple narrators, with Cohn and Levithan switching off to great success, providing an in-depth look at Naomi and Ely from side characters.

Naomi and Ely grew up across the hall from each other in a New York City apartment complex. Best friends from childhood even after surviving tough problems within their families, Naomi loves Ely loves Naomi, with one catch: Naomi is also in love with Ely. Unfortunately for Naomi, Ely is gay.

To protect their friendship, they create a No Kiss List, adding boys who meet both their tastes to it so that any dramatic problems might be avoided. The story is titled for this list, even though what causes the rift in Naomi and Ely's friendship, leading them both on a path to self-discovery, is someone not on the list at all. It never occurrs to Naomi to add Bruce the Second to the list so Ely won't kiss him.

After all, Bruce the Second is Naomi's boyfriend.

The No Kiss List of the title and at the heart of the story plays both a large and small role at once. The list works two ways; for Ely, its purpose is to put their friendship first by staying away from guys they might both like to prevent problems. For Naomi, its purpose is to keep boys Naomi thinks might take Ely away from her at a distance, to perpetuate the hope Naomi holds that one day Ely will love her back the same way she loves him. She doesn't need the list to keep away guys for herself as Ely does, because for her, Ely is it, even as she strings along guy after guy waiting for Ely to finally realize that he loves her back - regardless of his sexuality.

This story, narrated by several characters, centers on friendship and romantic love and plays out between Naomi and Ely and their friends. There's Bruce the First, with his impossible crush on Naomi, and Ely's love for Bruce the Second - and the love he gets back, even though Bruce the Second doesn't think he was gay. Gabriel, the doorman of the apartment Naomi and Ely live in, is on the No Kiss List, but once Ely has betrayed Naomi by kissing her boyfriend, does the No Kiss List even matter? Ultimately it becomes about how friendships and relationships are defined by different people, the lengths to which some people will go to place a friendship at the heart of their lives to the detriment of everything else, and how they change as we grow. The idea of a friendship so close that romantic love is impossible - can a friendship like that survive as teens turn to adults?

Cohn and Levithan address this question, how the concept of best friend who is forever and ever to the exclusion of other people and loves is inherently flawed. They take two teenagers and show how differently this question can be answered depending on perspectives, and they tackle the sticky side of how trust in all relationships works and how badly those relationships can be broken if that trust is shaken. Although the book is about breaking up and making up, it's also about being honest and open with everyone - especially yourself.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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