Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: ARC from Publisher
Check out on GOODREADS
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.
Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.
One thing I did learn from this book was that making your readers feel intense emotions isn’t always going to help them like a book, because while I definitely felt the intensity of the emotions the author tried to convey, I never fell in love with it. There were certain scenes that really got to me but never really changed how I felt about it. I must say, though, while I didn’t enjoy The Things You Kiss Goodbye very much, I think this is the kind of book that would be perfect in the hands of the right readers.
The blurb promises a story that deals with the effects of an abusive relationship and I don’t think the book dealt with that issue nearly as well as it could have.
In fact, throughout the book, the issue was rarely dealt with. Bettina has an abusive boyfriend, but even his abusiveness was downplayed in the way Bettina thought about it. She was bothered by it, but it never set off any alarms for her, which to ME was alarming. The readers could tell the change their relationship had taken, yet Bettina took the blame and said she wasn’t trying hard enough. To escape the relationship, she didn’t break up with him. She acknowledged that the relationship was doomed but she didn’t break up with him and instead ran into the arms of another guy (I’ll get back to that bit). When she found out that Brady might have also been cheating on her, she STILL didn’t do anything and that just didn’t make sense to me. I KNOW that abusive relationships are a complicated thing and I won’t even try to claim I understand them, but to me as a reader, the fact that Bettina did nothing about the relationship didn’t bode well. I couldn’t wrap my head around this.
Bettina was also a difficult character for me to get behind. She is an artist, a dancer, and has a greek heritage so she definitely has the makings of an interesting character, but somewhere along the way I stopped liking her. I never hated or even disliked her; I just wasn’t enthusiastic about her. She seemed so desperate to get out of her house because she felt her father suffocated her that she lost sight of what really mattered. She didn’t care if getting out didn’t actually make her any happier (which is evident from some of the incidents that took place), she seemed to want to get out just to get out.
She had a great relationship with her brothers going, but this negative portrayal of her father really bothered me. Her parents are apparently ‘not proud of her’ and I sensed some favoritism too. Plus she seems to miss the most obvious things about her family. I also found it weird how she constantly sees her father as a bad guy but not Brady when Brady, as anyone can see, is a douche bag.
On the topic of Brady, I really didn’t understand him. He was all nice at first and then turned into an asshole because he became popular? REALLY? Yeah, that didn’t work out too well for me, either.
The romance itself was another issue. I really couldn’t wrap my mind around the difference between their ages. I mean, the author portrayed it well enough that you didn’t notice it, but that was also an issue. I mean what does it say about the characters when both of them seem like they are the same age? Add to that the slow burn romance also didn’t work. It was really slow burn and under any other circumstances I would have liked it, but… in the end, when the ‘I love you’s’ came, it made no sense to me since they really didn’t seem to know each other well. There were some scenes, but I cannot think of one decent conversation they had where they really got to know each other well aside from their ‘pasts’.
This could also be the result of the narrative technique the author used where it was more of a re-telling of the past but it did make it hard to get behind not just their romance but the story the author was trying to sell to us, one where the main character grows as a result of tragic circumstances. In all honesty though, I didn’t see much growth in Bettina. She seemed almost exactly the same way as she was in the beginning aside from that fact that she would probably always carry the aftermath of the tragedy in her heart.
The tragedy did not come as a surprise to me, but boy did it hurt. It really twisted my heart and I have to say the author wrote those scenes beautifully. I felt the grief rolling off the main character and I felt myself drowning in those emotions.
In spite of the intensity of my emotions (I could barely breathe), the book couldn’t be redeemed for me because sometimes feeling intense emotions isn’t enough.
Another thing the author should get kudos for are the great relationships amongst friends. The main character didn’t have friends at the beginning of the book, but she finds some along the way. Her friends however weren’t the highlight of this book for me, Regina was. Regina is Tony’s grandmother and she is such a great secondary character. You cannot help but love her. She is funny and she is supportive of Bettina and what else can one ask for in a secondary character?
With that said, I also had issues with the ending. It just seemed too neat to me. I felt like there were so many things that could have been talked about and some relationships even could have been explored as a result of the tragedy but they weren’t.
This was just the kind of book I was glad to be done with and while I didn’t like it, I know there are people out there who will love it. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to read something more emotional (don’t get tricked by the pretty cover this book is NOT happy).
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