Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

Those who read my book reviews regularly know that in between my heavy, mind boggling, brain frying fiction, I have to throw in a couple easy reads.  They are like palate cleansers in between courses when eating a rich, extravagant (read ludicrously expensive) meal.  These books aren't any less enjoyable necessarily but they don't tend to stick with me after I've read them.

I met the author, Ali Harris, at an event hosted by Simon and Schuster, and read her first book, Miracle on Regent Street, first.  Because that's the kinda girl I am.  First things first.  I wasn't looking forward to reading her second novel after the first simply because I had really liked Ali but hadn't really liked her first book and I didn't want to write something not great about her second book.
I knew, however, that my integrity as a book reviewer meant I had to take the bad with the good. 
The book uses a unique device of heading each chapter in one of three different ways:
  1. Time of day on one particular day
  2. A type of kiss
  3. A moment in the past identified by a marker from a DVD or video tape, eg FF or REW or PLAY
Chapter types 1 and 2 tend to be short, very short, but help set the scene for the type 3 chapters.  This approach captured my imagination straight away.  The characters then captured my heart.

We meet Molly when she is young, lonely, trying to find herself and her place in the world.  Not an entirely likable character, Molly grows and learns to love herself and love others.  Who amongst us hasn't been there?

Ryan is the perfect Essex boy who spots the lovable Molly underneath all her false goth bravado and slowly chips away at that chip on her shoulder and the ice in her heart.
Casey is Molly's flawed BFF and I recognised an old friend of mine straight away in her character.  the novel is peppered with exquisitely drawn parents, in-laws and co-workers who all season our own love lives.
But this isn't a simple girl hates boy, girl loves boy, happily ever after story.  About halfway through the story takes a left turn and heads you down a path I never saw coming.
I'm not afraid to admit it.  I sobbed.  The pages of my book are crinkled where my tears fell.  At times I couldn't read for my blurry eyes.  But I wouldn't put the book down.  My husband was alarmed when upon returning home finding me in the same place he had left me hours before only now surrounded with piles of used tissues and the tears still flowing down my cheeks.
OK, I'm a sap for a good story.  And a good cry.
I finished this book over a week ago and it is still inside my head.  My husband kissed me the other day and I found myself thinking about hanging on to that moment, that tenderness, that feeling, forever.
Read this book and you will never kiss or be kissed again in quite the same way.  It wins 5 stars from me. 
NOTE:  Publication date for this book is January 2013 so you can't give it as a Christmas gift.  Feel free to preorder!

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