A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Romance meant to entertain.
Not every relationship lasts forever, and that's OK. If heartbreak comes, you can deal with it, but you can at least try to make a relationship work and hope for the best. Expect some stereotypical behavior like girls behaving flirtatiously to attract boys, and how boys are almost always the pursuers/instigators.
Positive Role Models
Elle is a good person who learns from her mistakes. She's involved in school social activities but mostly hangs out with her best friend Lee. Noah has a "bad boy" reputation, is quick to anger, and gets in a lot of fights. He's also jealous and possessive of Elle before they're in a relationship. Noah's behavior has a lot of red flags. He gets in a lot of fights (but would never hit Elle). He's also extremely jealous and possessive, but only because he wants to protect Elle from getting hurt by all the other guys out there. Elle thinks that by age 16 she should have been on dates and kissed a boy already.Elle's father is loving but he really only checks in with her briefly once in awhile, mentioning things like don't drink at parties without actively following through on anything. Best friend Lee is loyal, supportive, and always there for Elle when she needs him.
Violence & Scariness
Noah frequently gets into fights. Shoving, getting knocked down, and a few punches are narrated. One punch causes a split and bleeding lip. Elle tries to punch a guy but misses. Elle is harassed at school by male classmates (she endures wolf whistles and is slapped on the behind) after some suggestive behavior at a party.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of kissing and light making out. Nothing's described graphically, but a few scenes mention tongues. Most of the descriptions are about feelings and physical sensations like tingling and losing track of everything around. It's not narrated, but teens have sex and wake up in bed together the next morning. STD and pregnancy risks aren't mentioned at all, but Elle receives condoms as a gag gift and her friend tells her he wants her to be safe. Mention that everyone's making out or hooking up at a party. A boy is called "whipped" because he's willing to wait until his girlfriend is ready for sex and because he told her he loved her.
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"Screw," "sucks," "crap," "butt," "badass," "jackass," "hell," "ass" (body part and name calling), "bitch," "s--t," "damn," and "slut."
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Products & Purchases
Food, beverage, tech, and music products occasionally mentioned for mood or character.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink both alcohol and sodas at parties. Elle gets drunk once, throws up, and is harassed in school the next day for her suggestive behavior. Some drunken behavior (like bad karaoke) mentioned as funny. Stoners mentioned. Noah has a cigarette in his mouth once, and another time he smells like smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beth Reekles' The Kissing Booth started as a wildly popular ebook romance. It was first self-published on Wattpad when the author was 15 and has gotten millions of views and tens of thousands of comments on the social reading site. Strictly for romance fans, it has lots of kissing and light making out. Teens have sex but it's not narrated, and nothing's mentioned about safety or pregnancy prevention. Strong language is occasional and includes "s--t," ass," "damn," "hell," and "crap." Noah, the main love interest, is quick to anger, gets in lots of fights, and extremely jealous and possessive of narrator Elle. Some fights briefly mention punching and shoving, and one causes a bleeding lip. The mixed messages and role models make it a romance to escape into. It could also provide a reason to talk, especially to younger teens and tweens, about their hopes and dreams for their own romances. The book had been adapted for a movie planned for release in 2018.
Is It Any Good?
This teen romance is an amazing achievement for such a young author, who was 15 when she published it herself as an ebook, but it's for romance fans only. Bad-boy Noah and pretty, popular, every-girl Elle make a swoon-worthy couple. Narrator Elle is easy to relate to. Her friends and family are all believable, too. In real life, Noah's quick temper and extreme jealousy would be serious red flags, but here they just add to his bad-boy allure.
Some of the British words used in the California setting seem odd, and keep it from feeling like it happens in a real place. There are no outside concerns for any of the characters beyond themselves and their California, upper-middle-class, high school world. Best for teens who just want to escape into a sigh-worthy romance.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.