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Publication date: June 24th, 2014.
My rating: 4 stars
"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."
I didn't think I would like this book so much. In April I decided that it was finally time to clear out my ARC folder, so I randomly picked my next read. The Things You Kiss Goodbye sounded interesting, I thought the cover was cute and I opened it just to glance at first page. Before I knew it, clock showed two in the morning and I was still reading.
What happens when... your family has Greek origins, you start dating basketball player, your best friend moves away and you meet an older guy? All hell breaks loose. Honestly, I don't know what will other people think about Leslie Conor's debut, but I'm guessing that most of them will have a lot of high and mighty opinions about how weak Bettina is, why doesn't she act differently, how can she let her father treat her that way, why doesn't she break up with Brady... And I'm afraid that a lot of readers won't get her family dynamics. Why? Because this book deals with a lot of cultural issues. Think in the terms of Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta.
All of the Balkans families are similar no matter the religion or nationality - even the most modern communities still have traditional values and rules. Some of families are more traditional and more patriarchal than the others. If you are a child growing up in any of those, there are certain rules you always respect - if your parents tell you to do something, you do it. You might not like it, but you do it. Because they are your parents. You respect older members of your family. If your sick aunt tells you to come and help her out, you go. There are still a lot of people who treat their daughters and their sons differently. But we are not closed off community and in the end everyone makes decisions for themselves. Your father might be overbearing while you are 16 year old girl, but later he doesn't breath down your neck on every corner. You realize that he was right in most of the situations he said no to you (but you won't admit that out loud).
I could relate... with main character when it comes to her family interaction. Sneaking out to go places they won't approve, going out of the house in respectable clothes and changing in bathroom of your school, arguing pros and cons of owning mobile phone.
We should talk more about topics like abuse. I'd really like that more books like this are translated on my native language. Abuse comes in various ways and there are a lot of factors that let something like verbal abuse slip under radar because of the cultural differences. It's one thing to respect your father and do as he says and it's completely different matter when your own father doesn't notice how bad for you is guy you're dating. Or that being a girl means that you don't have your own aspirations and your only purpose in life is to stand by your man. Leslie Connor approaches to the subject from so many angles and she offers to readers personal and cultural insight.
Who should read this book? Fans of Melina Marchetta, Laura Buzo and Courtney Summers.
Copy of this book was provided by publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.