A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in Kiss & Make Up is the story of a high school girl with a psychic ability to read the minds of those she kisses, who starts kissing studious boys just to steal the facts they've learned about science, math, etc. So, the book includes cheating at school plus a great deal of kissing, one boy feeling under a girl's shirt, and one swear word: ass. Some negative gender messages are disconcerting: There's a tremendous focus on makeup and girls' appearance; and the notion that a girl would have to get science and math answers from a boy reinforces a gender stereotype.
What's the story?
In KISS & MAKE UP, the main character, Emerson, and her older sister, Piper, are being raised by their aunt Arch (Mary Archer), who struggles to keep the girls in private school on her salary as a representative for the fictional Stellar Cosmetics company. Because of their aunt's job, the girls have unlimited access to makeup, and Emerson spends most of her time applying lip gloss, etc., and thinking about boys. Her grades are suffering from her lack of effort. However, after her first kiss with a boy, Emerson learns that she has inherited her mother's psychic ability to read the minds of people she kisses. She begins to use this talent to steal facts and figures from the minds of studious boys in her grade. When she develops feelings for a boy she really likes, she realizes she's wrong to use the other guys she's been kissing, but before she can mend her ways, friends start to find out about her loose lips.
Is it any good?
Kiss & Make Up works from a fairly clever concept (the idea that Emerson can read the minds of the people she kisses) and develops a pretty realistic high school world of cliques and outsiders. When she realizes she can take in all the facts and figures from a boy's brain, like an iPod syncing to a computer, Emerson faces a moral dilemma. Though her ESP is fantastical, the way she processes her options feels believable. However, Emerson's inability to think about almost anything other than boys and makeup becomes tiresome, and though the book offers deeper ways to think and care about life, the author still seems to suggest that wearing the right shade of gloss is a high priority. The book straddles a strange line, at once saying that hard work and inner beauty are meaningful, but still insisting that a teenage girl shouldn't leave the house without a full face of makeup. Whether this novel seems real, whimsical, and heartfelt or extremely shallow will depend on the reader's point of view.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the book's focus on, and use of, types of makeup. Does Emerson think too much about makeup, or is she just a normal teenager? Does the emphasis on makeup make the book more interesting?
In one chapter, a teacher decides to play a game where the students use their phones to text their answers to questions about chemistry. Do you think this is a good idea?
Do you think there's too much focus on girls' appearance in the media?
- Author: Katie D. Anderson
- Genre: School
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amazon Publishing
- Publication date: October 2, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 307
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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