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Stuff for the Teen Age, Poetry Month

After the Kiss: A (poetic) Review

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Camille isn't impressed with her new town. It's nothing like her old town (or the one before that, or the one before that). It's tedious making new friends during senior year only to move on like she always does, like they all will with college around the corner. Still, she'll put on a show and pretend it all matters while she marks time until her escape like she always does.

Until she meets Alec at a party. He isn't the boy she left behind. But he's here. He's smart. He's a poet. That's pretty close to perfect.

Camille doesn't want to get involved or care, not really. But when Alec kisses her out of nowhere at a party isn't that what he's asking for? Isn't that the right thing to do?

Becca is in love and it's wonderful. She sees Alec after school, on the weekends, during her free time. Being with him, being a girlfriend to his boyfriend, doesn't leave a lot of time for other things. But Alec is enough. He's smart. He's a poet. He's perfect. In fact, they're perfect for each other.

At least, Becca thought so until Alec kisses some girl at a party.

After the kiss Becca is heartbroken, Camille is confused. In another life they might have been friends. That won't happen now, but maybe after everything they can find themselves instead in After the Kiss (2010) by Terra Elan McVoy.

Love triangles are nothing new in young adult literature, or any literature really. But McVoy looks at this familiar situation in a new way and from all sides in this clever verse novel. Even though the book is ostensibly about a kiss and romance, it's more than that too as both Becca and Camille are forced to take a hard look at who they are before and after the kiss in alternating narrations in their own unique poetic styles.

Both of the characters, especially Becca for me, are authentic narrators who grow and change throughout the story. They are achingly human with moments where they are unlikable and far from perfect. Still by the end of the story readers will find themselves cheering for both heroines and wondering, like the girls themselves, how things could have been different without that kiss.

After the Kiss is McVoy's second novel. It is also a smart, smart book written in verse that is filled with emotion, humor, and even nods to other famous poets. If you are an English major or just a poetry lover After the Kiss is a must read.

Possible Pairings: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Boy Book by E. Lockhart, The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Want to know more? You can read an interview with Terra Elan McVoy about this book on Miss Print. You can also enter this month to win a signed copy from the author.

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What a Great Poem-Format Novel!

This was one of the books I talked about recently when I went to visit a local high school. I love poem-format novels because I can spend part of the time talking about the books and part of the time reading some of my favorite poems out loud from them. I read "Recipe for a Confrontation" (pp. 151-152) and "Words I Never Thought I'd Say" (p. 153). They were a big hit with the classes, even among the kids who weren't fans of romance books.

Yes! Always good to know a

Yes! Always good to know a book is a winner with teens. It's totally different but if you feel like trying a historical verse novel Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell has some great poems too. (They're more like chapters than discreet, titled poems though.)

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