What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the most objectionable thing about this book is the title. Otherwise the content is relatively mild -- a little kissing, some off-color references, a little minor swearing.
What's the story?
Among the students at the Manhattan Free Children's School, poetic Felicia has a crush on Matthew, which he doesn't reciprocate. He does love science, however, so she convinces him to join her in a science-fair project -- The Search for X -- the mysterious factor that makes one person attractive to another. She confesses her crush to him and proposes that they study it, and the X-related interactions of everyone they know, kids and adults.
Then it gets a whole lot more complicated. As they work on their project, Felicia discovers that Matthew's best friend Randall has a crush on her, Matthew likes Jess (Felicia's friend), Jess pines over their friend Kat's adult piano accompanist, Kat likes ... well, you get the picture.
Is it any good?
First, that title. In the annals of What-Were-They-Thinking this has got to win some kind of prize. The jacket says this book is for ages 12 and up (it actually is), but that title will ensure that few libraries and no classrooms will get this book, and most kids will have to convince their parents to let them have it (the author even includes a helpful dialogue to convince parents on her Web site).
Once you get past the title ("Sex kittens" derives from a cute picture of adorable kittens sitting in a high-heeled shoe), the book itself is an effervescent delight whose laugh-out-loud humor derives less from the story than from the way it's told. Felicia's voice is one of the most original and hilarious in years. Readers will love listening to her and cheering her on as she uses science to try to uncover what makes someone fall for another. She seems incapable of describing even the most mundane event in less than pitch-perfect, sardonic teenspeak.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the characters' research. What is the X-factor? What do you think makes one person like another? This can lead to retelling family stories: how mom and dad (and grandma and grandpa) first met and fell in love, first crushes, etc.