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The Serious Kiss by Mary Hogan

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Mary Hogan’s new teen novel, The Serious Kiss, proves you can’t judge a book by its title or its cover. Said cover sports a chihuahua with a big red-lipped kiss smacked on his face and calls forth Paris Hilton and her dog, Tinkerbell. I confess I opened the book thinking it would be a fast read centered on the moment when the protagonist, Libby Madrigal, experiences her first “totally real, sincere, meaningful, soulful, poetic, inspiring, knee-buckling, love-filled, journal-worthy, insomnia-producing, appetite-reducing, mind-blowing, life-changing unforgettable, undeniable, serious kiss.” After all, she and her best friend, Nadine, longed to experience the “big IT, the IT supreme: Love.” To that end, they made a pact at the beginning of their freshman year to each obtain one serious kiss.

But Hogan had something else in mind and like any good writer she telegraphed it in the first paragraph, the first sentence, the first phrase when Libby opens the book with: “My dad drinks too much and my mom eats too much, which pretty much sums up why I am the way I am: a knotted mass of anxiety, a walking cold sweat.” With a mother who spouts words like “dinneroo,” “fannywannydingo,” and “poopadilly,” a father who is in severe denial about his drinking problem, a chain-smoking older brother and an eleven-year-old brother who has yet to show signs of maturing, Libby struggles to define herself in the midst of chaos. The Chihuahua? Try Juan Dog the Chihuahua, an ancient, rather high-strung dog known for the strength of his constant yapping and ability to levitate. Despite the odds, Libby does find the boy of her dreams. Then, in the space of one weekend, she’s ripped from the only life she’s ever known in Chatsworth, California and planted somewhat unceremoniously in the small desert town named Barstow “in the middle of absolutely nowhere” where she meets her caftan-robed, spiked-hair, mobile-home-living grandmother Nana. Did I mention she’d been told all her grandparents were dead? For Libby, her life is so over.

The Serious Kiss is more than a story about a girl’s quest for true love and the ultimate kiss; it is the story of a girl who finally comes to terms with who she really is. With great writing, memorable characters, and a heroine who takes you inside her life and makes you laugh and cry all at the same time, Hogan delivers one great read. What is even more impressive is that this is Hogan’s first novel. Does Libby finally achieve the ultimate kiss?

I’ll never tell.
–vikk, Down the Writer’s Path

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About Vikk

  • So is this the female Holden Caulfield or a good teen book capturing the zeitgeist?

    Thanks for the review – I probably won’t end up reading, but it’s a book I know I’ll be gifting to my niece.

  • Excellent review, Vikk. This sounds like a teen novel that combines comedy and drama well — a hard thing to pull off to say the least. And yes, Barstow is really in the middle of nowhere.

    For some reason, I’m reminded on the movie Clueless here.

    This book review has been selected for Advance.net. You’ll be able to find this and other Blog Critics reviews at such places at Cleveland.com’s Book Reviews column.

  • Vania Sunega

    The book was great I like the part when she gets all exited for getting a serious kiss. The problem is that I forgot how many pages it has in total and I need to know it for my report

  • Eric, thanks! And thanks for picking the review up for the Cleveland papers, etc. It was a fun book to read.

    Vania, I’m sorry I didn’t see your post until now. I’m not at home right now and I’m sure it’s too late but I’ll check the page numbers for you.

  • Eli

    Great review. It really hit home with me since I lived near Chatsworth and have been through Barstow. But I think the story itself is enough to grab a reader. I’m considering it as a great gift for one of my grandkids. Now the only question is which one?

  • Hi Vikk:
    Thanks for the nice words about my book. Yeah, I too was worried when I saw the cutsey dog cover. I didn’t want to mislead anybody. I’m so happy people really DON’T judge a book by its cover! It’s satisfying to be able to reach other kids who grew up like I did–in a crazy alcoholic family where chaos ruled. Good news! You can grow up and write it all down in a book!
    All the best,

  • AsHlEe

    That was an awesome summary of the book!! If I hadnt read the book, after reading what you wrote, I totally would have rushed to the library and got it!! You should become an author when you grow up!! Especially with all of those adjetives! “totally real, sincere, meaningful, soulful, poetic, inspiring, knee-buckling, love-filled, journal-worthy, insomnia-producing, appetite-reducing, mind-blowing, life-changing unforgettable, undeniable, serious kiss.” Those make your writing soo real where you have a picture and a thought of what that kiss really felt like!! Keep up your writing, Vikk and I hope to see your name on a book some day!
    Sincerely, Ashlee Simpson (not kidding!! I swear, thats really who i am!!!)

  • In the vein of “better late then never” let me say thanks to Mary Hogan, the author, for taking the time to stop by and review the review and leave a few comments above. I’m glad the book is generating such great response, Mary, and look forward to reading more.

  • Hey Mary,I hope you are planning on having a movie on this because I have found the perfect guy for Warrenville he is Garrett Hedlund I know a writer who is making sure that they don’t ruin it like they did “Eragon”. The book is”Twilight”,you could do the same, I bet it would make an awsome movie just like the book fantastic I might add. Thank You fof your time I hope that you might take some thought of my words.
    Sincerely,Beth Calhoun

  • Belinda

    Ive read da book just great

  • yasmin

    I’m in loveee with this book!
    It’s an AWESOME book for girls my age to read.

  • sweet

    this was a great book!

  • Lee

    This book was simply amazing i just finished it.

  • jamie

    i have read it it is a great book i wish there was a book 2 and a movie about it

  • courtney bunch

    this is one heck of a book to read everybody should get a chance to read it it is very inspiering

  • courtney

    i just wish every body could read this book

  • camren

    i just finished the book!!!! it was sooo great. it reminds me of my very first kiss.

  • omg x]
    im INLOVE with this book!
    i read it over 7 times.
    i love it how Warren knows everything about the desert!
    but uhm for chapter nineteen, you put eleven x]
    i know its your first book, but your about 8 things aprt

  • Agirl

    read this book one of my all time favorites great for ages 10 and up i read it at age 12 and is suggesting it to all my friends and family, heat warming and with a greast ending there is 240 pgs in the book for the person who wanted to know!!!!!