ARC Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

The Things You Kiss GoodbyeGenres: 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.

REVIEW

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).

Rating Report
Characters
Writing
Romance
Climax
Ending
Overall: 2.5

The Things You Kiss Goodbye Discussion Question

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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    I couldn’t agree more with you about this one. I did feel for what the main character was going through (especially at the end) but I still could never connect with the story.

    Great honest review and I think you are right, in the hands of the right person, I am sure they will love this one.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Tell Me Something Tuesday!My Profile

    • Rashika says

      I know. My heart broke for her because after that glimpse of hope, everything went down the drain and I cannot imagine how painful it must have been for her. The thing is even though I felt so heartbroken for her, I never really connected to her story.

      Thanks :)

  2. says

    I’ve seen 1 “1 star! and 1 DNF review, lots of 4 stars and a few 5s. So your 2.5 is really interesting. I’m glad that it pulled emotions out of you, but sorry it wasn’t perfect or anything near that for you. Hmmm, well, your reaction to Bettina’s relationship and not getting out of it makes total sense, but then again, as you said, they’re complicated and a lot of the times the abuse receiver just doesn’t really get out of the relationship *shrugs* but I do get your frustrating well. Seems like you just weren’t that emotionally connected with Bettina as a character. Yikes, the Brady becoming popular and a douche seems a tad cliché. Yay for awesome friendship portrayals :) Ha! It sure looks like a sweet and cute book :D Um.. idk if any book has been like that for me =/ not that I remember. Anyhoooow, great review, lovely!
    Siiri recently posted…Top Ten Books On My Summer TBRMy Profile

    • Rashika says

      I’ve seen more 3-3.5 ratings than 5 stars .-. But I figure a lot of people will love this because the story is good, just not the kind of story that works for me.

      Don’t fall for that ;) it is ANYTHING but sweet and cute. That I promise :P

      Thanks hon! :)

  3. says

    Aw. I’m so sorry that you had such issues with this book. It sucks when you don’t enjoy a book you wanted to like :\ This would not be a book for me either, sigh. But you are awesome for reading it :D Thank you sharing and being honest. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Cress Tuesday #34My Profile

    • Rashika says

      This book is a 100% not for you, Carina. If I had known that that was what would happen, I probably would have avoided it too. :(
      THANKS Carina! :)

    • Rashika says

      I know. Abusive relationships are so tricky and like you said, can easily be done wrong :/
      I don’t mind older-guy romance but when she is 16 and he is 26… that is definitely something that would NOT work for me.

      I am sure they’ll keep you occupied for a while ;)

  4. says

    I think I can understand the way Bettina reacted to her boyfriend and his abuse. I’ve studied psychology before, and the victim is often too scared to break up the relationship for fear of something worse happening. And they often downplay the situation to convince themselves that they’re doing the right thing. I have a feeling she hates her dad before she sees similar qualities in him to her boyfriend as well.

    Hmm, I can’t think of an emotional story that I didn’t like on the top of my head. I enjoy most contemporaries, even though they don’t wow me entirely. I think this will definitely be an interesting read for me, but not sure whether I’d pick it up anytime soon. Wonderful review lovely, I hope your next one is much better xx
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Thoughts By J Turns 1 + Giveaway!My Profile

    • Rashika says

      Ha the exact problem with this scenario was she was never afraid he would do something worse :/ She was afraid of what it would mean for her social standing and how things could become awkward at that point with her cheerleading and what not. That’s one of the reasons I became so bothered with the whole take on the abusive relationship :/

      HA I think this is the first emotional read I didn’t enjoy. A first for me :D Thank you so much, Joy :)

  5. says

    Rashika…very insightful review. I think I will totally avoid this book! LOL… A while back I read Mud Vein and it was so sad but I’m not sure that I didn’t like it because it was sad but because I felt like I read something similar to that previously. Ugh…I love a really good sad book but it has to deliver on so many different levels, like TFiOS, you know? ;)
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    • Rashika says

      I am usually vary of sad books in general because I tend to be more of an HEA person so I try not to pick a lot of them up in general and when I do.. it does take a lot of guts and it does suck that while being an emotional read this one failed to deliver :/

  6. says

    I haven’t read too many reviews for this book, and the ones that I have read didn’t compliment this book too much. While, I do feel for the main character, and what she is going through, I am disappointed that the author doesn’t take the time and fully invest in such a heavy issue. But what’s more is, that even though this abuse was going on Bettina didn’t do anything about it, I don’t think I could get behind a MC like her, especially if she doesn’t undergo any development either. But I am very curious about the tragedy and the beautiful way the author wrote it. That seems very interesting. Sorry this didn’t live up to your expectations, Rashika. Hope your next read is much better! Fab review! :D As for the question, I don’t think that has ever happened to me with any book.

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 
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    • Rashika says

      That’s exactly the problem. Abusive relationships are such an important issue but there wasn’t nearly enough time spent on it :/

      Bettina’s does grow some but not nearly enough to substantiate as character growth and seeing all these things she’s gone through, it does become an issue as well :(

      Thanks Maida!!! :)

  7. laila bc says

    I enjoyed your review it was insightful thus I feel that this book might give me frustrations, it’s fine I can handle and even love a tragic romance as long as it’s done beautifully and effectively.

  8. says

    Wow, this one sounds intense, but not in a good way. Books about abuse are so tricky for me anyway and it’s really hard to get the emotional beats right. It sounds like there were a whole lot of others issues, too–romance, parents, main character, writing style? Sounds like I’m safe in giving this one a pass. Thanks for the review, Rashika!

    Also, I know what you mean re: admiring certain things about a book and feeling some emotion for it, but not really LIKING it. I can think of a couple of extremely cult-popular books that I feel the same way about.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…YA Authors Read Snarky ReviewsMy Profile

    • Rashika says

      I think at this point most books don’t get some of the trickier issues ‘right’. There are so many ways to go and so many underlying layers that I imagine it must be quite difficult.

      I KNOWWWW. Tragic books aside there have been a handful of really popular ones that I felt something for but never really liked. One off the top of my head would be Paranormalcy, I enjoyed it but I didn’t LIKE it. Does that even make sense?

  9. says

    For the discussion Question:

    Yeap, I’ve read a lot of depressing stories that I didn’t like, or even books that tugged at my heart, but aren’t really my faves. I think it depends if I could even relate or like the characters. It all comes down to that.

    The first thing I thought about the girl was that she seems so stupid naive. I don’t get why she’s so ignorant, it just makes her stupid… ugh… I kinda thought the book would be fluffy, (I like the font of the cover <3 ) but I guess not. Tho that happened before… don't know if I would like it. I think I would end up irritated, but I think I'll try it, someday.
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    • Rashika says

      It does doesn’t it? Emotions cannot be everything, there needs to be something to the story that makes it stick.

      SAME HERE. The font on the cover is GORGEOUS. She is naive in someways and sometimes I’d definitely say I wanted to shake her.

      I think you should Jules, you might like it :)

  10. says

    Yep, I completely get what you mean about feeling intense emotion, but still not liking the book. It’s partly why my first instinct is to avoid books like this. I don’t like being overwhelmed and then to find that I haven’t actually gained anything positive from reading. Regina sounds like a great character here, but too much about the rest of it tells me I won’t be able to appreciate this one. Anything about abuse can be tricky for me to stomach. Thanks for the helpful review, Rashika!
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    • Rashika says

      That is basically me. I usually avoid emotional books because after going through something like that, I’d like to come out having gained something instead of feeling like I would have rather not wasted my time reading that book. *sigh*

      I think there are a handful of issues that just make me a little more ‘critical’ because some issues are just so important and if I feel like a book doesn’t do it justice or doesn’t take an issue as seriously as it should, I do feel annoyed :/

  11. says

    Yeah, I do not like the sound of this one at all. Not even a little bit. 1. if I read a book and abuse is downplayed, I will lose. My. Friggin’. Mind. 2. really not a fan of this type of family dynamic–favoritism, one child is never good enough, etc. If it’s back of the background info in a story about an MC who overcomes their upbringing, I don’t like it, but I get it, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what this is. 3. Unlikable characters . . . yeah, no. I’ve heard that to appreciate this book you need to understand the culture, and I don’t think I do. BUT–fabulous review, my darling. Thanks for sharing ;)
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      • Rashika says

        I KNOW. Like PLEASE DON’T! This is a serious issue. PLEASE handle it more delicately :/

        There is favoritism but I think a lot of that is in the MCs mind (or at least it is from my interpretation) which just makes it infinitely worse for me. But you know all that isn’t even ever discussed. Everything is resolved in such a neat way its bothersome.

        Thanks hon! :)

        You know I don’t like sad books either :P I read them on occasion but I usually avoid them like the plague. You say sad I say BAD
        (omg someone should sue me for that :P that was just pathetic).
        And you say it beautifully. Too much sad, no bueno. I think I want to make that my tag line.
        DO YOU MIND?

  12. says

    Oh man. Absolutely brilliant review, Rashika! Used to be once upon a time, I would get so confused by books like this with their emotions, I’d just automatically assume I liked them because ugh! it was a landmine trying to figure out whether I really liked it or was it just a product of all the twisted feels. Now, however, it just PISSES me off. And I probably rate it lower than I’d have otherwise for its entirety. I LOVE YOU for verbalizing all of this.
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    • Rashika says

      awww shucks :P
      I know right? Like how do you figure out whether you loved a book when your emotions are all haywire. It wasn’t too hard for me because the tragic incident occurred much later so I had already made up my mind about that book but incidentally, it made me raise my rating of the book by .5 stars .-.

      I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN! I think this is the only exception.
      I LOVE YOU TOO and you know why :DDDDD
      (aside from the fact you are fabulous)

  13. says

    As soon as abuse is played down in a book, that’s me done. I just read one something similar, but even heaver than this one (which looks more like a mildly sad, but mostly happy contemporary. It’s the font. Don’t use cheerful font!) This sounds like it had the potential to be so much better, but the characters let it down. The abundance of abuse related books that are being released lately is worrying. Where are all our happy reads promoting positive messages? This isn’t diversity, it’s just half baked books. Awesome review my little Hooter :)
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    • Rashika says

      (I know right? What a good way to throw people off. Look at me I am so cheery except YOU’RE NOT BOOK. STAPH LYING TO US).

      It has so much potential but then again almost all books do *sigh* which is why it’s such a pity. I mean it’s a book about abuse, it SHOULD be better, it should try to do the issue justice and the struggles victims go through but it doesn’t, or at least in my opinion it doesn’t.

      I SECOND THIS. but then again, there are people who love reading sad books and there isn’t much we can do about that *sigh*

      Thank you my superhero :D

  14. says

    Hm. There are actually aspects that I understand and connect with, like her desire to just get out of there. I don’t like downplaying abuse, but I think the way she feels or interprets it depends on a lot of things, including home life. So I’m curious to see how it was handled. I want to read it just out of curiosity now. :)
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    • Rashika says

      Yay :) I am glad you want to read this and I really hope this will work out better for you than it did for me, Christy! :)

  15. says

    First of all, I love the little potato with the question to discuss!
    Thank you for a great and honest review, Rashika.
    I’m quite clearly gonna be avoiding this one, cause I’m not in the right emotional state to read a book like this one at all. Even less with the odd treatment of the abuse issues and then having a heart breaking event… I don’t want to have my emotions battered even more from a book that I’m not already invested on.
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    • Rashika says

      I LIKES it too! :D
      I know what you mean :( You really want to be prepared when reading an emotional book *sigh* I don’t usually enjoy having my emotions battered either because it does take me a while to recover. :/

      Thanks Pili!!! :)

  16. Larissa says

    I honestly don’t think this one is for me. Even with Celine enjoying this one, I don’t see myself enjoying it that much.

    I think you make a good point with the fact that not all emotional books are in fact good. I actually quite dislike it when a book tries to be emotionally manipulative, tries to go and make you feel all of the feels. To me this is what The Things You Kiss Goodbye sounds like.

    Another thing that wouldn’t sit right with me is how the abuse is portrayed. Abuse is obviously a HUGE issue, but it’s clearly not something to just include in a book casually. It shouldn’t be downplayed by any means and if it’s included in a book I except that the author shows just how awful it is. The fact the main character hardly thinks of the abuse and how it’s so negative is very jarring to me. Since it’s not directly opposing abuse, it’s almost promoting it if you get what I’m saying O.o

    Celine did mention the age difference (main character is 16 and love interest is 26!?) and I honestly don’t feel like I would feel comfortable reading that. Or even worse, it would be like you said: they felt the same age which showcases bad characterization. I’m okay with age differences when the couple is older, it’s just the fact that the main character is 16 (a minor) that throws me off.

    Great review Rashika! Though you did highlight both negative and positive elements of this book, I feel as if I wouldn’t be able to look over the negatives. It’s because of that reason that I will likely not be giving this one a read.

    • Rashika says

      I actually never felt like this one was emotionally manipulative but now that I think of it, it definitely could be seen as such, especially when the author makes things seem so hopeful at one point.

      That’s EXACTLY what I find the problem to be. I don’t think it portrays it as negatively as it should and while anyone can tell it’s affecting her negatively, it doesn’t seem to take the spotlight which becomes a problem for me as a reader .-.

      I KNOW RIGHT? like 16 and 26 is a HUGEEEE no no for me. I don’t mind age differences so long as the two people are consenting adults (and I do prefer the younger person to be at LEAST 19). It’s definitely creepy in my opinion because he is shown to be gorgeous and he is an adult and owns his own business. WHY THE HELL IS HE SOCIALIZING WITH A TEENAGER? That’s definitely creepy for me :/

      Thank you, Larissa! :)

  17. says

    I do not think this book is for me at all. That Cowboy character completely creeps me out, as does her other boy friend. I want my contemporaries to be a little more happy than this. I get that there are good lessons in here, but I don’t really want to take the effort to read about them. Anything you “just want to be done with” is something I should stay away from! I hope your next read was better.
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    • Rashika says

      I know .-. Happy contemporaries are my comfort food and I rarely willingly read a sad contemporary :/

      My next read was sadly another sad book… but I did love it so there is that :)

  18. says

    Your low score on the romance is enough to make me pass on this book. This does seem like a happy book and I gravitate towards those reads. I don’t usually like reading sad reads because there’s enough sadness in real life, why do I need to read about it in my fiction? I have had exceptions. I loved Where She Went and If I Stay. Of course I cried! Great review, Rashika! :)
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    • Rashika says

      It does seem like a happy book but it isn’t. .-. I second what you said though, there is enough sadness in real life, we don’t need more. I make exceptions all the time but for the most part, HEA is what I want from my books. :P

      The romance, is… good I suppose but wayyy too creepy and not there for me to be able to actually enjoy it .-.

      Thank you Rachel!! :)