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Kiss Number 8

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Amanda can’t figure out what’s so exciting about kissing. It’s just a lot of teeth clanking, germ swapping, closing of eyes so you can’t see that godzilla-sized zit just inches from your own hormonal monstrosity. All of her seven kisses had been horrible in different ways, but nothing compared to the awfulness that followed Kiss Number Eight. An exploration of sexuality, f Amanda can’t figure out what’s so exciting about kissing. It’s just a lot of teeth clanking, germ swapping, closing of eyes so you can’t see that godzilla-sized zit just inches from your own hormonal monstrosity. All of her seven kisses had been horrible in different ways, but nothing compared to the awfulness that followed Kiss Number Eight. An exploration of sexuality, family, and faith, Kiss Number Eight is a coming-of-age tale filled with humor and hope.


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Amanda can’t figure out what’s so exciting about kissing. It’s just a lot of teeth clanking, germ swapping, closing of eyes so you can’t see that godzilla-sized zit just inches from your own hormonal monstrosity. All of her seven kisses had been horrible in different ways, but nothing compared to the awfulness that followed Kiss Number Eight. An exploration of sexuality, f Amanda can’t figure out what’s so exciting about kissing. It’s just a lot of teeth clanking, germ swapping, closing of eyes so you can’t see that godzilla-sized zit just inches from your own hormonal monstrosity. All of her seven kisses had been horrible in different ways, but nothing compared to the awfulness that followed Kiss Number Eight. An exploration of sexuality, family, and faith, Kiss Number Eight is a coming-of-age tale filled with humor and hope.

30 review for Kiss Number 8

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    I should have known from the very beginning that this would be a VERY dramatic book, not a romantic comedy like I expected. Rom-com, really? That could not be farther from reality. After all, the cover itself is overly dramatic. Mads’s friend is whispering who-knows-what in her ear while she is blushing and holding a CROSS. But I had to give it a chance because it’s a GRAPHIC NOVEL and it has LGBTQIA+ themes. That’s a combination that should have worked—after all, BLOOM by Kevin Panetta was abso I should have known from the very beginning that this would be a VERY dramatic book, not a romantic comedy like I expected. Rom-com, really? That could not be farther from reality. After all, the cover itself is overly dramatic. Mads’s friend is whispering who-knows-what in her ear while she is blushing and holding a CROSS. But I had to give it a chance because it’s a GRAPHIC NOVEL and it has LGBTQIA+ themes. That’s a combination that should have worked—after all, BLOOM by Kevin Panetta was absolutely lovely. But this was not lovely. Actually, I dare say it was kind of a mess and not a pretty one at all. The author focused on too many things at once! There’s Mads’s sexuality and crush on her best friend Cat, which she doesn’t really understand and has no one to talk to about or so she thinks. There’s her relationship with her dad which is a love/hate one since he appears to be lying to her. There’s the mystery surrounding her grandparents. There’s her other friend who she’s not sure she even likes. There’s Adam who is in L-O-V-E with her and she couldn’t care less, and yet somehow it’s a source of stress for her because it forces her to face her own desires. Boy oh boy. It’s as though the author wanted to write multiple different stories about different things but then suddenly decided to put all of those stories together to form just one. It’s HEAVY and DRAMATIC because there’s too much going on. The characters rarely take time to just calm down. It’s dramatic scene after dramatic scene. I did find the illustrations cute and the characters three-dimensional, but as for the story… It wasn’t a winner for me. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  2. 5 out of 5

    emma

    um. if you want to talk about a teenager realizing her sexuality, coming out, solving a mystery of her ancestry that leads to her realizing her grandmother isn't her grandmother and her real grandmother is trans, realizing at least 4 of her loved ones are deeply transphobic, realizing everyone around her is homophobic, having multiple crushes, and kissing between 8 and 14 people... maybe pick a deeper format than a 300-page YA graphic novel? because this didn't really accomplish anything it hoped t um. if you want to talk about a teenager realizing her sexuality, coming out, solving a mystery of her ancestry that leads to her realizing her grandmother isn't her grandmother and her real grandmother is trans, realizing at least 4 of her loved ones are deeply transphobic, realizing everyone around her is homophobic, having multiple crushes, and kissing between 8 and 14 people... maybe pick a deeper format than a 300-page YA graphic novel? because this didn't really accomplish anything it hoped to. and also it broke my brain. review to come / 1.5 stars ---------- i'm slightly behind on my reading challenge so you know what time it is... GRAPHIC NOVEL COME THRU FOR ME (thanks to First Second for the arc)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    It took me some time, but I got into this book. I love how they are telling the story through who she is kissing. Kiss number 8 is a game changer for our protagonist Mads. She never finds a reason to stay with boys, but she realizes that her best friend might be more than Mads thought. Her friend is Cat, a wild and boy crazy girl. Kiss #8 was not with Cat, but it was a girl and she finds out that it feels right. This is what she has been looking for, or so she thought. There is a lot of high dram It took me some time, but I got into this book. I love how they are telling the story through who she is kissing. Kiss number 8 is a game changer for our protagonist Mads. She never finds a reason to stay with boys, but she realizes that her best friend might be more than Mads thought. Her friend is Cat, a wild and boy crazy girl. Kiss #8 was not with Cat, but it was a girl and she finds out that it feels right. This is what she has been looking for, or so she thought. There is a lot of high drama with relationships an friendships and all the high school drama at play. Mads does go to a Catholic high school, very tiny and once she kisses the girl, her school is horrible. She is the center of gossip and no one will talk with her. She is completely alone. Sad. There is also drama within the family. There is a mystery surrounding her grandfather. That is a rather interesting detail I side story. It took the first third of the book to draw me in and then I couldn't put this book down. I tore through the rest of it. There are plenty of hurt feelings and queer phobias in this book. It deals with the subject well. I thought it was a good story and I enjoyed reading it. It's an interesting book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    Trigger Warning: Homophobia, Transphobia, the f-word Mads' parents are strained, and what's worse, she thinks her dad is cheating on her mother with another woman. And her dad won't tell her anything about it. But Mads keeps her thoughts away hanging out with her best friend Cat, and kissing boys. Even if the kissing is...gross. Where's the appeal? Then everything starts to unravel. And everything starts to make sense. Forgive me while I mop up the massive tears rolling down my face, k? This was an Trigger Warning: Homophobia, Transphobia, the f-word Mads' parents are strained, and what's worse, she thinks her dad is cheating on her mother with another woman. And her dad won't tell her anything about it. But Mads keeps her thoughts away hanging out with her best friend Cat, and kissing boys. Even if the kissing is...gross. Where's the appeal? Then everything starts to unravel. And everything starts to make sense. Forgive me while I mop up the massive tears rolling down my face, k? This was an emotional roller coaster I was not expecting. I was thinking, mmm, okay, maybe 2-3 stars, nothing special, and then the second act hit and cue the mother-fucking waterworks. But I want to start with one thing first—Cat is a colossal asshole and 100% complete hypocrite. After that, well, there's not much I can say without spoilers, but there's a lot of figuring out who you are, and realizing that you're not alone. And that sexuality is a weird and wonderful thing, and that being trans doesn't mean that you're diseased. And that maybe what you remembered as a child isn't what actually happened, but how you rationalized events in your mind in order to survive. This is a definite must-read, but um, get yourself in a good headspace and beware of those trigger warnings because...whew. There's some heavy shit in this. It was such a great reminder that the early 2000s were a such a shit time for gay students. (view spoiler)[I'm so fucking happy I didn't figure out my sexuality until I was in my late-twenties, although, tbf, a lot of people probably thought I was gay since I hated wearing dresses, I dressed fairly androgynously (okay, I wore the occasional mini skirt but eh, it was whatever), and I rarely if ever expressed any interest in any dudes. Plus I had this weird crush on this one girl who had such amazing calves (yeah I dunno) and a beautiful face and...well, let's just say I'm a slow learner about myself? (hide spoiler)] But there's always hope, and you are never alone. Although spoiler: Kiss #14 is totally my favorite. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    This is not a light, fun kissing book. It's a story about family secrets. I didn't like how coy it was about the religious roots of the characters' bigotry. And it was odd how dated the first half of the book felt compared to the progressiveness of the ending. There was a strange disconnect there.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    2 stars for the story, additional star for the artwork. You may have seen other reviews saying the cover art does not match the interior story. This is true. You may have seen other reviews saying there are a lot of plotlines in this book and none of them are really given full service, especially the tale of a transman, and the end result is chaotic. Also true. You may have seen other reviews saying this takes place in 2004 which makes no sense for a book that's supposed to be aimed at contemporary 2 stars for the story, additional star for the artwork. You may have seen other reviews saying the cover art does not match the interior story. This is true. You may have seen other reviews saying there are a lot of plotlines in this book and none of them are really given full service, especially the tale of a transman, and the end result is chaotic. Also true. You may have seen other reviews saying this takes place in 2004 which makes no sense for a book that's supposed to be aimed at contemporary youth, some of whom wouldn't even have been alive in 2004. So very true. I'd like to add that I have not been able to confirm this is an #ownvoices story which leads me to question why it was written. Ok, I know why it was written; the author and illustrator include an interview they did with each other in the back of the book and the author mentions she was inspired to write this story - in 2004 - when her sister came out. But this isn't a story of allyship, this is the story of a teenager questioning gender roles and her sexuality. I suppose this could be aimed at kids who have friends who are LGBTQA+ but for the kids exploring their own sex and gender ideals, this may be more painful than useful. In this case, I think it's the art that carries the story. There is so much emotion in the characters' body languages, so much being told via illustration that's not told in text. In some cases, the two oppose one another - a character is telling a story in text while the actual story is playing out in pictures. While I liked the idea behind this, I don't feel it was executed well nor do I strongly believe it was told by the person(s) who should be telling this story. Other reviews suggest better stories of LGBTQA+ youth and those may be worth looking into if this one seems like it's not going to please you as a reader.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate ☀️ Olson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I had to really ponder this review bc I had such high hopes that I had to grapple with the difference between what I wanted it to be and what it actually is. As a school librarian, here’s what disappointed me and made me decide not to add it to my collection: - the setting of the book in 2004 was only put out there in the very first panel and it could be so easily overlooked. Without that being solid for the reader, so much of it including LGBTQIA language and tech like AIM and old phones was just I had to really ponder this review bc I had such high hopes that I had to grapple with the difference between what I wanted it to be and what it actually is. As a school librarian, here’s what disappointed me and made me decide not to add it to my collection: - the setting of the book in 2004 was only put out there in the very first panel and it could be so easily overlooked. Without that being solid for the reader, so much of it including LGBTQIA language and tech like AIM and old phones was just weird. At the almost-end it seemed much more like a modern story too but we had only passed a few months. - the unchecked homophobia, transphobia and racism made me so uncomfortable and although I understand that the story arc led to “redemption” it was too little too late for vulnerable teens. If it were an adult memoir I could understand, but in fiction for teens - not cool. The checking can be done via expressions on faces even but in this case it wasn’t. I get the intention of the slurs as showing what it was like for queer teens in 2004 but don’t appreciate the execution. - Mads’ sexuality was never really out there for readers until it was expressed blatantly by Jess. Her longing for Cat wasn’t all that evident and the story gave no reason for why she’d even want Cat since she was such a horrible friend. - Undeveloped story line re: transgender family member - this could have been so much stronger and got lost in Mads’ rebellion, sexual awakening, family secret, friend drama, baseball, religion, etc. Overall, it is a book that on the surface looks like an amazing addition to the teen LGBTQ+ market but is actually harmful. Please consider recommending LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME or BINGO LOVE or CHECK PLEASE or BLOOM instead. Oh, and the art was good and I liked the layout - that’s what made me give 2 stars instead of 1.

  8. 5 out of 5

    McKinlay Dennis

    *I received an ARC of this book from netgalley and the publisher. This does not affect my review.* DNF at page 166 TW: transphobia I’m genuinely baffled why this has such good reviews that call it “light hearted.” I was annoyed basically from the start. Mads is incredibly disrespectful toward her parents, ESPECIALLY her mom, who she repeatedly calls a bitch AND doesn’t tell her friend to NOT talk about her mom. I get not liking your mom, but there’s a line, okay? You don’t let your friends call yo *I received an ARC of this book from netgalley and the publisher. This does not affect my review.* DNF at page 166 TW: transphobia I’m genuinely baffled why this has such good reviews that call it “light hearted.” I was annoyed basically from the start. Mads is incredibly disrespectful toward her parents, ESPECIALLY her mom, who she repeatedly calls a bitch AND doesn’t tell her friend to NOT talk about her mom. I get not liking your mom, but there’s a line, okay? You don’t let your friends call your mom a bitch. You just don’t! That wasn’t the worst offense though. There are some seriously transphobic comments made by the MC’s dad. Like, i think it could be really harmful to trans teens, and children of trans parents. Because I quit, I don’t know if he came around but after Mads’ “best friend” outted the trans character I was done. I think if this book wasn't marketed as like a cute coming of age queer graphic novel, I would maybe have been less frustrated. But the back of this book makes it seem like it's just a girl kind of realizing she might like girls. That is definitely NOT what I took from it. 0/10 do not recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    R Macklin

    This is a really hard story to read in places. Many of the characters are blatantly transphobic and homophobic, but that doesn't mean that this work is. Kiss Number 8 is an important coming out story in 2019. These days, we get stories where everything is Dramatic and Bad OR where everyone important to the character just accepts their new identity immediately. There's definitely a place for both of these kinds of stories, but I think Kiss Number 8 exists in a really important gray area. Even the This is a really hard story to read in places. Many of the characters are blatantly transphobic and homophobic, but that doesn't mean that this work is. Kiss Number 8 is an important coming out story in 2019. These days, we get stories where everything is Dramatic and Bad OR where everyone important to the character just accepts their new identity immediately. There's definitely a place for both of these kinds of stories, but I think Kiss Number 8 exists in a really important gray area. Even the characters who are wrong or unsympathetic are still treated with compassion and nuance.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I found myself totally engaged with this family drama despite its fairly slow pace and a possibly triggering amount of (view spoiler)[transphobia and homophobia (hide spoiler)] . I didn't feel nearly done with these characters by the end, and I'd love to see the last dozen pages expanded to another 300-page graphic novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bruestle

    This is my first graphic novel/comic book style of writing that was in an actual chapter book length that I’ve ever read. I was hesitant at first because I generally steer clear of this type of writing. The only reason I gave it a chance was because of the topic. I still don’t think I will ever be into this type of book, and definitely don’t see myself searching out other similar books. However, I was pleasantly surprised about how well the comic book themed writing still read like a normal nove This is my first graphic novel/comic book style of writing that was in an actual chapter book length that I’ve ever read. I was hesitant at first because I generally steer clear of this type of writing. The only reason I gave it a chance was because of the topic. I still don’t think I will ever be into this type of book, and definitely don’t see myself searching out other similar books. However, I was pleasantly surprised about how well the comic book themed writing still read like a normal novel! I was able to follow it easily and I was able to remember everything without a problem. I had a few issues with the story itself though. I didn’t like how the author didn’t spend much time or energy on background for “Sam” and I felt like the book was a bit all over the place as far as “the point of the book” went. They didn’t really touch on “being lesbian” until the last part of the book...which is the main reason I wanted to read the book to begin with. So that was kind of disappointing. I just felt like the book didn’t have very much depth, if that makes sense. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what it could be. I would’ve liked to learn more about each of the characters and maybe have more of their perspective on things too. I don’t know. Something was for sure missing. All in all, I don’t regret reading this, but I don’t think I’ll ever pick one up in the future!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jay G

    Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... Thank you to First:Second and Raincoast books for sending me a copy of this in exchange for my honest review 4.5/5 Stars Amanda's best friend Cat is surrounded by drama and loves kissing boys. Trying to fit in, Amanda has had 7 kisses in her 16 years of life which have been...unremarkable at best. But nothing compares to how awful Kiss number 8 was and what follows afterwards. Not to m Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... Thank you to First:Second and Raincoast books for sending me a copy of this in exchange for my honest review 4.5/5 Stars Amanda's best friend Cat is surrounded by drama and loves kissing boys. Trying to fit in, Amanda has had 7 kisses in her 16 years of life which have been...unremarkable at best. But nothing compares to how awful Kiss number 8 was and what follows afterwards. Not to mention that her family seems to be hiding a big secret from her. Now, with a secret of her own, Amanda tries to navigate between falling for her best friend and trying to figure out what her parents are hiding. I loved this so much. I loved Amanda, she was such a great character who dealt with so much in such a short period of time. I think the themes and topics explored were so well done and thought out. I loved watching her figure out who she was and come to terms with what that meant for her, her family and those around her. I also loved how the family secret was dealt with and explored as well! The character development of ALL the characters, not just Amanda was so nice to see. I also love how the ending isn't completely neat and perfect. Not everything works out, but that's how life is. I also cried at the ending, so there is that. I really loved the artwork in this! My one complaint is that there was no colour at all... I think it would have been nice to use the blues from the cover with little pops of colour here and there, but the black and white still worked for this story. Usually I am not a fan of just black and white panels, but that's just me! Highly recommend this one!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read a review of this that referred to it as "historical fiction set in 2004," and I immediately crumbled into a pile of dust. But then I read it and realized that this is definitely a distinct historical era from 2019, and honestly I think that for this to be a book for teens to read, it could have benefitted from some more contextualizing? Like, at multiple times a key plot point is how when a new AIM chat window pops up, whatever you're typing jumps into that new window, and like sometimes I read a review of this that referred to it as "historical fiction set in 2004," and I immediately crumbled into a pile of dust. But then I read it and realized that this is definitely a distinct historical era from 2019, and honestly I think that for this to be a book for teens to read, it could have benefitted from some more contextualizing? Like, at multiple times a key plot point is how when a new AIM chat window pops up, whatever you're typing jumps into that new window, and like sometimes you wouldn't notice that happening and you'd just hit enter and then accidentally send some nonsense to the wrong person?? Remember that? (If yes: you are old) But anyway I don't think Today's Teens remember that and a lot of the technology focus on the plot seems like it might be kind of nonsensical? Also a lot of the language characters use about transgender characters is now out-of-date and obviously some of it is stuff that would have been in use in 2004 (a lot of it is stuff that would have been offensive in 2004, and it is used by characters who are shitty people, but it is like...a really really harsh middle of the book for the biggest trans character in the book). This would make more sense to me if it were a memoir aimed at adults? (It's not a memoir, it's fiction, but just...that would be a good reason, to me, for this to be set in 2004.) IDK, I think this is trying to grapple with some big issues (religion, coming out, family secrets, being transgender, being queer, how to be a good friend/ally.....) and I maybe admire the attempt but maybe not all of the execution? The art...is good.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    I'm throwing some graphic novels in to get my GR Reading Challenge caught up! :-) Amanda "Mads" Orham attends Catholic school and Mass every Sunday with her best friends Cat and Laura, and minor league baseball games after church with her dad -- "my best friend!" -- and Adam, Laura's younger brother, who's crushing on Amanda. Amanda's curious about boys and kissing, but none of the kisses seem to stick. While Amanda tries to juggle her friendships with bad-girl Cat and buttoned-up Laura, her fat I'm throwing some graphic novels in to get my GR Reading Challenge caught up! :-) Amanda "Mads" Orham attends Catholic school and Mass every Sunday with her best friends Cat and Laura, and minor league baseball games after church with her dad -- "my best friend!" -- and Adam, Laura's younger brother, who's crushing on Amanda. Amanda's curious about boys and kissing, but none of the kisses seem to stick. While Amanda tries to juggle her friendships with bad-girl Cat and buttoned-up Laura, her father is having furtive phone conversations with a woman named Dina, and both he and her mom seem to be keeping some pretty big secrets from her. I had no idea what to expect from this book. I had some clue going in that it was an LGBTQ finding-yourself story, but this had a depth and layers of complexity that took me by surprise, in a good way. The story starts off a tad slowly, which turned out to be good, because by the time the Big Stuff started happening, I understood the nuances of the relationships between all the various characters, and I was fully invested in both what Amanda might find out about that family secret (which is huge indeed, and entirely unpredictable), and about herself. I don't want to say too much about the story. As it picks up steam, it also carries a lot of emotional weight that hits hard. Amanda's confusion about herself leads her to make a Niagara Falls of terrible choices that made me cringe. There's some absolutely vitriolic transphobia and homophobia expressed in these pages that was difficult to read and made me realize what a sheltered life I live in the Boston area and as an adult (I'm boringly straight but nevertheless was the target of homophobic slurs when I was in junior/high school; what a relief to leave that behind). But after the horribleness, Amanda finds some whole new experiences, a new outlook (including about her mother, whose characterization is just terrific), and some hard-earned maturity. This is a book that's an excellent first read, and probably even a better reread. And it ends with a very charming interview of each other between the writer and artist that was just as enjoyable as the book itself. Highly recommended. But be aware that despite the cuteness of the cover, this is one hard-hitting, complicated story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    This book has some pretty strong themes of homophobia and transphobia, but they are handled in possibly the most sensitive way I have ever seen in a comic. The ultimate message of the book is one of joyful self-acceptance and of a family which has been divided for many years by fear and prejudice being healing and reunited. The reason I want to state these facts at the very top of my review is that I almost put the book down after about 40 pages, feeling unsure if I would end up enjoying it. It This book has some pretty strong themes of homophobia and transphobia, but they are handled in possibly the most sensitive way I have ever seen in a comic. The ultimate message of the book is one of joyful self-acceptance and of a family which has been divided for many years by fear and prejudice being healing and reunited. The reason I want to state these facts at the very top of my review is that I almost put the book down after about 40 pages, feeling unsure if I would end up enjoying it. It is very, very worth it to read through the slightly rough opening to the beautiful story it unfolds into. The lead character, Amanda, is a baseball-loving, church-going high school senior at the local Catholic high school. She has two best friends who couldn't be more different: sexually active, confident, bad-girl Cat and law-abiding Laura. When Amanda overhears a furtive phone call made by her father that seems to suggest he's having an affair, Amanda tells them both. But the family drama is much older, bigger, and stranger than she could ever have predicted. When she gets a letter from an stranger with a photo of a lost relative and an inheritance check for $30,000, she starts to investigate. On the way she uncovers family lies and personal truths which change her life forever- and for the better. The art is absolutely gorgeous, done in traditional inks with light washes. This story is set in 2004, and I appreciated the "historical details"- flip phones, AIM chat, Bush/Cheney signs, etc. Very well done, and highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    .

    Content warnings: transphobia, homophobia, forced outing, homophobic bullying, f slur

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    I sure love me a solid YA graphic novel! And this is definitely one of those. This tells the story of the first few romantic experiences in the life of one Mads, a relatively privileged teen. There's a kid next door who's had a crush on her forever, she has a best friend who has very different impulses from Mads, and then a sequence of events causes her to experience her first few kisses. Eight kisses, to be exact. There's also a family history/trauma plotline. I loved the queer visibility here. Th I sure love me a solid YA graphic novel! And this is definitely one of those. This tells the story of the first few romantic experiences in the life of one Mads, a relatively privileged teen. There's a kid next door who's had a crush on her forever, she has a best friend who has very different impulses from Mads, and then a sequence of events causes her to experience her first few kisses. Eight kisses, to be exact. There's also a family history/trauma plotline. I loved the queer visibility here. This reminded me a bit of MariNaomi's Kiss and Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22, and I would be shocked if it wasn't at least a little bit inspired by that work. The illustrations are black and white, varying panel placement, easy to follow. This edition includes a Q&A between the author and illustrator at the end that runs 7 pages in pretty small font. I'm curious about the choice to draw the best friend, Johanna, in a pretty distinctively different style than the rest of the characters. They're all lined up in the backmatter, and it almost looks like a different illustrator drew her to me. I get the sense that the team is trying to include a wider variety of body types (I would describe this character as curvy), but to me, she kind of sticks out like a sore thumb as basically the only major character exception to the rule of "average" bodies (misnomer alert). Her face is also draw in a distinctly different way from the rest of the major characters. Maybe there's an intentional plot/pov element to this difference, but it didn't quite work for me. Candy. I love it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anna Banana

    4.5 stars I really loved this!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jes Reads

    Full review at: https://www.jesreads.com/new-blog/201...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Sperber

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not sure what to think of this one. I was frustrated upon reaching the middle point of the novel at the poor portrayal of a transgender man who just wanted to love his family and live his life and the hatred and shame his family displayed and felt. This family’s ‘dark secret of the past’ is mirrored in Amanda’s journey through adolescence as she explores different aspects of growing up, from partying to kissing a few people and feeling peer pressure. The story does turn as she discovers she’s bi Not sure what to think of this one. I was frustrated upon reaching the middle point of the novel at the poor portrayal of a transgender man who just wanted to love his family and live his life and the hatred and shame his family displayed and felt. This family’s ‘dark secret of the past’ is mirrored in Amanda’s journey through adolescence as she explores different aspects of growing up, from partying to kissing a few people and feeling peer pressure. The story does turn as she discovers she’s bisexual. Within her small Catholic school, she is cast out by her friends, peers, and her father, and she struggles to find her way back to happiness and in doing so, reconnects to her mother and step-Grandma in the process. It was a lovely and happy ending. The art of this graphic novel is good, and the lesson of family’s making progress over time was ultimately heartwarming. I don’t know how desirable reading the hate speech spewing out of the father’s and grandparent’s mouths is to anyone actually discovering a non-heteronormative sexuality within a religious community, even if it is relatable to someone’s lived experiences. I find it curious that the transgender reveal isn’t mentioned in the summary of the book in terms of initially showing more representation. The last tidbit that bothered me was how some of the art panels didn’t quite fit for me. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on because they didn’t connect easily to the other context of the page and it definitely took me out of the story trying to figure out what was going on. Overall, somewhat heartwarming end, but the journey is filled with ignorant people spewing hatred. Not sure how relatable this story is, even to it’s target audience. I’m all for diversity, but maybe this isn’t the delivery needed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julian

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think the book was a bit clunkier than it should have been. It would have been a touching bi coming of age story but the trans representation in this story fell very short for me. Too many opportunities for a reader to put the book down before any of the ways that Sam was spoken about were addressed as problematic. What was addressed as negative was really wishy-washy and vague. The other trans character’s dialogue did not feel authentic to me. It felt like the way that cis people imagine tran I think the book was a bit clunkier than it should have been. It would have been a touching bi coming of age story but the trans representation in this story fell very short for me. Too many opportunities for a reader to put the book down before any of the ways that Sam was spoken about were addressed as problematic. What was addressed as negative was really wishy-washy and vague. The other trans character’s dialogue did not feel authentic to me. It felt like the way that cis people imagine trans folks feel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kazia

    I.... have a LOT of mixed feelings about this book. Edited to add: a friend asked me my thoughts and here's more or less what I messaged them. (cw for brief mention of the Shoah) I really loved a bunch of it--the way that you couldn't figure out (view spoiler)[what she saw in this shitty friend, only to realize as she does that she has a crush (I feel like EVERY woman who likes women, especially bi women, have experienced this!). (hide spoiler)] I found the art to be mostly delightful and SO expr I.... have a LOT of mixed feelings about this book. Edited to add: a friend asked me my thoughts and here's more or less what I messaged them. (cw for brief mention of the Shoah) I really loved a bunch of it--the way that you couldn't figure out (view spoiler)[what she saw in this shitty friend, only to realize as she does that she has a crush (I feel like EVERY woman who likes women, especially bi women, have experienced this!). (hide spoiler)] I found the art to be mostly delightful and SO expressive! I have mixed feelings on the handling of the trans story line in particular. I think that the deadnaming and misgendering is super realistically done. But it's also REALLY painful to read, and while the book is set in 2004, that's when a lot of the teens reading this were BORN and the text doesn't provide much context for where 2004 sits in the arc of queer history. This definitely feels like a book for cis people, and while books for cis people obviously should exist, INCLUDING books about trans people for cis people, something about this felt... not quite right to me. The closest thing I could think of is like stories about gentiles in Nazi Germany who *gasp* FIND OUT THERE'S A JEW HIDING IN THEIR BASEMENT and then go on a journey of self-discovery to realize maybe they aren't comfortable in Hitler Youth after all. I am not in love with a story that uses trans pain to facilitate a cis person's journey, even if it's a queer journey.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    This was really nice. And queer. And nice. EDIT: I figured out what I liked so much about this graphic novel. The clumsy way that Amanda figured out her sexuality (or at least came to consciously acknowledge it) really hit home for me. It reminded me of how scary and exciting it felt to be a nearly-adult figuring that stuff out on my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma (Miss Print)

    I hated a lot of this book! This was the kind of reading experience that I enjoyed a lot more once I got to the end and could read the backmatter where Venable and Crenshaw talk more about the project. That, for me, was where a lot of the pieces finally gelled. But that should have been happening during the actual reading experience. It doesn't make sense to me that the story takes place in 2004 which, to me, largely feels like it's happening because that happened to be when Venable started writ I hated a lot of this book! This was the kind of reading experience that I enjoyed a lot more once I got to the end and could read the backmatter where Venable and Crenshaw talk more about the project. That, for me, was where a lot of the pieces finally gelled. But that should have been happening during the actual reading experience. It doesn't make sense to me that the story takes place in 2004 which, to me, largely feels like it's happening because that happened to be when Venable started writing the story. A lot of the characterization felt thin. Why does Amanda hate her mother? Hell if I know. Which, yes, can be an authentic teen moment but I wanted more in the context of this story. Why does she have a crush on Cat? Incredibly unclear because Cat is one of the worst people I have ever encountered in a book. Which also brings me to Cat's artwork. I hated it. It was othering--you can even see from the cover that Cat doesn't even look like she's drawn in the same style. Is this because she is the object of Amanda's affections? Probably. Do any of her other crushes in the book share the same illustration style? No. Also reading that Venable added a trans character because she wanted to have more trans representation while, to my knowledge, not living that life experience herself gives me serious pause. The story is also filled with slurs and hateful language which is never resolved which again is realistic in some ways but not, perhaps, the messaging that is most needed at this moment in time. This was never going to be a me book because stories with this much religion give me hives. Some parts are interesting and the story ended stronger than it started but I think it tried to tackle way too much in one volume to do all of it well. This is a heavy, nuanced story that they tried to tie together with a high concept gimmick (the kisses) but that too ultimately lost focus in the middle of the story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    What a deeply personal, but lovingly moving story about a girl coming into her own with family, friendships, relationships, and who she is-- making mistakes, holding grudges, and having fun all the while. It's reminds me of Tilly Walden's Spinning with it's mood and while there were segments of the story that I felt like I was missing something or they were asking readers to fill in some of the blanks, I kept on and things unfolded. The main character Amanda aka Mads leads a full life with a lov What a deeply personal, but lovingly moving story about a girl coming into her own with family, friendships, relationships, and who she is-- making mistakes, holding grudges, and having fun all the while. It's reminds me of Tilly Walden's Spinning with it's mood and while there were segments of the story that I felt like I was missing something or they were asking readers to fill in some of the blanks, I kept on and things unfolded. The main character Amanda aka Mads leads a full life with a love of baseball and music, attending Catholic school and attending church, watching a ridiculous show and gaming with her father while simultaneously hating her "ice queen" mother until everyone comes together after much arguing, fighting, and secrecy to learn what Mads' father hasn't wanted her to know about her "real" grandmother. But it's the usual high school hijinks as well with an added element of Catholic versus public school education, what it means to be a girl (especially the feedback she gets from family), and how experimentation is part of the package-- Amanda's "kiss number". I'm not sold on whether the flash forward to an adult Amanda compliments the ending or not-- more of undecided because we don't often see that. But absolutely lovely in general with it's black and white illustrations, emotive characters of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments that show well throughout the story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    I had high hopes for this graphic novel since it was labeled LGBTQ+. As most of the reviews have revealed there is a lot of homophobia in this book. While I can understand putting that type of content in a book to create a backstory but it seems to be a little heavy handed and not REALLY sending a positive message out to queer youth. I really liked the graphics but I think the story could have been so much more with a lot less hatred in it's characters.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah

    To read the full review check it out here. Wonderfully diverse book, but full of transphobia that got to be a bit much for me. It was important to the plot, I see why it was there, but it was a lot more than I wanted or expected.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Kania

    Oh my HEART! This is sort of so true to life, I wonder how much was taken from the author's life. It's so brutal. I want to know that Laura is ok though. (brutal in a feelings way, though there are mentions of abuse, there are none on the page and our protag does not undergo physical or sexual violence which is refreshing and sad that it's refreshing for a coming out story jfc). I only four star because I wish Kiss Number 8 wasn't revealed in the beginning.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeweliana

    OH. MY. GOD. This book was amazing! I love the drawing, I love the characters, I love the plot, I love the representation, basically everything was perfect. What I really enjoyed was how realistic the conclusion of the story was. It felt like something that could really happen to someone. I also thought the complexity of the main character mads was spot-on. There were moments where I wanted to slap her and other moments where I completely understood her. I need a sequel to this story ASAP!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Basma

    This was excellent.

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