Review: The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

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The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Before you guys say anything... I didn't hate this book! At all. Would I reread it? Doubtful. Would I have liked it as a teenager? Absolutely. Am I giving some serious props to the author, who was literally a teenager when she wrote this? YES. As far as plotlines go, The Kissing Booth is as sweet as can be--it's straight forward and highly out of my age range at this point. It's your typical teenage rom-com in the form of a book and you have to appreciate it for what it is, which is merely fun.

I watched the film adaptation of it before reading it, which was fun (and flawed) in its own right. The movie sparked enough curiosity in me that I picked up a copy of the book pretty soon after. The Kissing Booth is one of those rare adaptations that keeps the essence of its source material pretty well but also makes it into its own story.

Something you'll notice about Beth Reekles writing right away is that she is a sweetheart. You can just tell. And this shines in lead character, Elle. It's striking how much these kids seem like actual kids and this is entirely due to Reekles herself being so young when she penned this romance. Everything in it felt pretty genuine in terms of coming-of-age and first love stories and Reekles age both showed and didn't throughout The Kissing Booth.

There's something romantically fun about The Kissing Booth that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It kept me reading. Perhaps its the central tropes used in the novel, making it familiar to us as readers. I feel like it calls out the inner romantic in us to a degree. Girl has never been kissed. Girl has male BFF who is straight but completely platonic. Girl is into male BFF's older brother, like, a lot. Girl and BFF set up a kissing booth at a carnival. Girl kisses BFF's brother and soon, a secret relationship forms.

In many ways, this is not a unique story. Reekles uses this to her advantage, mixing up all of those little tropes that make teen movies and literature give young girls the warm and fuzzies.

The problem with its flaws are pretty big though. I am not altogether keen on romanticizing men, or in this case boys, who are highly possessive of girls as if they are their property. I don't dig the fact that the love interest, Noah, spent so much time fighting and scaring away boys from Elle because, bluntly, he didn't think she could handle their advances. And of course, had these feelings for her himself.

In retrospect, I want to scold the fact that Elle was so catty and clueless about certain articles of clothing being too "slutty" but I actually find that I can't. This book was written by a teenager and, unfortunately, teenagers do say things like this. They're young and naive. I would have said the same thing at her age and there's no way of going around that, so I'm not going to critique it.

Then, there's a whole other can of worms re: victim blaming that I'd really rather not get into.

While this book was entertaining to a degree, and had some good moments, it's best read in small doses and not to be taken seriously. Not reread material, but I have no regrets in picking it up. I think my only advice is to get your head out of your a*s and not take it seriously.

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