Review: 26 Kisses by Anna Michels

26 Kisses by Anna Michels

Breaking up with her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. And so she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.

From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the breakup doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

Title: 26 Kisses
Author: Anna Michels
Publication date: May 24, 2016

I received 26 Kisses from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Summer in Butterfield, Michigan, means tourists, float trips, and festivals. This summer, for Veda anyway, it also means twenty-six kisses, one for each letter of the alphabet — in order. After being dumped by her boyfriend of two years and having to quit her job (because he works at the same place), Vee is depressed and listless. The kiss list is her best friend Mel’s idea to get Vee back into life again. She also hooks Vee up with a job at her father’s Float & Boat, where Vee works closely with Killian, a cute guy her age from the next town over. They instantly discover that they have something in common outside of work: they’re both on their school debate teams.

Butterfield is a great setting. I want to be 17 again and move there to go to all of the summer festivals that bring in the tourists from Chicago. It’s a small town and seems so homey and comfortable and fun even though Vee doesn’t have that many friends. It seems she neglected even Mel and their other best friend Seth during her time with Mark and she’s regretting that now that she’s alone and Mel and Seth have their own thing going on. I really liked that regret because ditching friends for a boyfriend is a common occurrence, but it’s rare to read about what happens after the relationship is over and the girl has to go back and try to fit in with her friends again. She does have the members of her debate team, although most of them are two years younger. They’re not in many scenes, but I did like the ones where they all got together.

My biggest complaint with this book is that a lot of the kisses aren’t even real. Sorry, but if the kisses are supposed to help Vee move on from Mark, her father and a dog don’t count. There’s nothing wrong with kissing a bunch of different guys — even a fairly large number like 26 — in a summer. Sure, people will talk, but if it’s not about that it’s going to be something else. (“Did you hear Mark dumped Vee?” “Did you hear she quit her job because of him?” “I heard…”) It’s high school. That’s the way it is and Vee doesn’t owe anybody any explanations.

In contrast, my favorite part of the book is Vee’s attraction to Killian. They’re a lot of fun together and it’s unfortunate that he’s in the middle of the alphabet. That gives Vee some time to realize how much she likes him (no instalove here!) and wants him to be her “K” kiss, but it also means she has a long way to go before she’s done with her 26 kisses and although I said she doesn’t have to explain herself to anyone, I also think it’s a little unfair to him. He likes her, she likes him, what’s the big deal?

Vee does have other things going on in her life too. She doesn’t know how to deal with Mel and Seth possibly becoming Mel-and-Seth, her little brother is growing up and noticing girls (and hearing the rumors about Vee), and she’s also dealing with her father and his demands on her time. The stuff with her dad was a little too much and not that interesting, but I guess it provides some balance to her life.

Overall, I liked 26 Kisses. It’s a good summer book and I’m looking forward to reading what Anna Michels writes next.

3 1/2 stars
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Jenna