6 Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did)
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 6 Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did), by Tess Sharpe, is a queer romance and coming of age story about teens Tate and Penny, whose lives are entwined because of their mothers' close friendship. When an emergency forces the families to move in together, the girls struggle to make sense of their relationship while caretaking for their moms. Queer characters and romance are positively portrayed. Sexual harassment and attempted assault are briefly described. Violence is mild, including rock throwing and threats of fighting. A scary accident, described in detail, kills Penny's father and seriously injures Penny. Mental illness and healing from trauma is a major focus, and different tools are explored (friendship, therapy, art, exercise, etc.). Same-gender sexual activity is mild -- cuddling, hand holding, kissing, and intense attraction. Characters use strong language regularly, primarily "s--t" and "f--k," as well as "ass," "bitch," "hell," and "damn." Teen characters drink alcohol, get drunk, and reference marijuana use in flashbacks, but substance use is not a major plot point.
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What's the Story?
Tate and Penny aren't exactly friends … or enemies, but they are something. Their moms are best friends, so they've been around each other their whole lives. When Penny's mom decides to donate a part of her kidney to save Tate's mom, the families combine households to help with expenses and the moms' recovery. The story alternates between Tate and Penny's perspectives, both in the present and in flashbacks. Their mutual attraction, near-kisses, and frustrations with each other come into focus across deeply emotional scenes, and cover Tate's mom's dual illnesses, Penny's dad's death and her increasingly tenuous relationship with her mother. The one constant is that Penny and Tate are always there for each other, no matter what. But ignoring their attraction threatens to destroy the tenuous peace they've struck to help their moms recover, and a lie of omission might be the spark that burns it all down.
Is It Any Good?
This captivating story weaves unexpected threads into a deeply compelling queer romance and coming-of-ager. The light romcom cover design of 6 Times We Almost Kissed doesn't do justice to the emotional journey between Tate and Penny and their families. From Tate's mom's life-threatening illnesses to the accident that kills Penny's father, seriously injures Penny, and her mother's withdrawal from mothering Penny at all, this is not merely an alluring slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance. It's a story of growing through trauma, learning to be honest, and confronting the hardest truths about oneself and one's family. Though getting oriented to the story is awkward at first and there are some forced scene setups, on balance, this is a page-turner well told from dual perspectives and in alternating timescapes. This book will satisfy readers who like queer romance, but takes readers to deeper places that confront complicated topics and earns its hopeful ending.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the complicated relationship between Tate and Penny in 6 Times We Almost Kissed. How would you describe their relationship? Was their attraction to one another believable? Why or why not?
What was your reaction to Penny's strained relationship with her mom? How does Penny deal with it? How does that change over time and why? What can you learn from this story to help you deal with difficult relationships?
Healing from trauma and learning to live with loss are major themes in this book. What kind of people and support helped characters move forward? Talk about how courage, perseverance, and other character strengths helped Penny and Tate face their challenges.
- Author: Tess Sharpe
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: January 24, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 10, 2023
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