The Things You Kiss Goodbyeby Leslie Connor (Website)
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-06-24
Genres: Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social Issues, Young Adult
Amazon • 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
Issues like Abuse, Family Expectations and true Friendship made sure to create an emotional story!
Bettina is not having it easy at home. A Father who cares more about family traditions and rules than the person itself makes it hard for Bettina to find her own way. I felt often so horrible during interactions between Bettina and her father. She cannot go out, she cannot date and basically do all the things usually kids her age do.
For some reasons however he approves of Brady, and even allows her to date him. Finally free to go out, Bettina thinks initially that finally she can life a normal teenage life.
But when golden boy Brady turns out to be not the wonderful golden boy everyone things him to be, Bettina has no idea how to react.
Abuse in a very subtle way! When does abuse really starts!
The abuse was portrayed in a very delicate and quite interesting way which is both a strong point of the book as well as the weak point. It’s clear vey fast that Brady is not good for Bettina, but in the beginning it’s very subtle and small things where he does not treat her right. This makes it even more complicated for Bettina to break up with him and leave him. Who would believe her?
I think Leslie Connor drew a very fine line here when a relationship turns into something unhealthy and where to make a cut. While I think this was a very smart way to address abuse, I always expected things to escalate which then never happened. Also the end of this relationship (and I don#t think this is a spoiler) was not as strong as I hoped it to be.
A savior to love and hold on to…
Interesting was also the addition of Cowboy. An older boy who seems to understand Bettina much more than any of her family members or friends. He sees quid early that she needs someone who takes her seriously, who listens to her and just be there for her. Cowboy is a little older which adds another level of complexity to the story, but also this point could have been just stronger. It was a slowly building relationship based on trust, respect and friendship – just the sparkles were missing for me.
And.. I am NOT going to talk about the ending which completely left me speechless, sad and also a little mad….
The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor was a story about abuse, family expectations and true friendship, with a lot of emotionally draining events. I just wished for the issues to be more powerful and a little more dramatic – but I guess that was entirely the intention. As much as I was missing a stronger story development, the ending was as dramatic and shocking as it could come.