I have had this book on my shelf for so many years that I actually couldn’t say with any certainty whether I read it or not. I felt like I had, but I couldn’t remember anything about it. So, since I was going to see Lauren Myracle at Leakycon in a couple weeks, I decided to pick it back up and determine that for certain. Kissing Kate is definitely a quick read, under 200 pages, but I feel like it does have quite a bit to offer. I was intrigued by the first page, which seems to drop us in the middle of the typical lesbian teen book plot: Lissa has recently kissed her best friend, Kate, and now they aren’t talking anymore. But Myracle skips all of the build-up to that point and takes us straight into the aftermath, which I appreciated. It feels much more to the point this way, and not like we’re actually missing out on anything, with just enough being revealed through flashbacks.
This isn’t an action-packed novel; it is mostly about Lissa struggling to find herself. And it’s not just coming out. Kate and Lissa have been “Kate-and-Lissa” for so long that she flounders without her best friend. Throughout the book, Lissa begins to open herself up to finding new friends and new things to be excited about, while still dealing with the tension with Kate. It’s not a love story, either, but more of a snapshot of a pivotal moment in Lissa’s life. I loved the added details that made the characters seem more three-dimensional, like the main character’s unconventional family, formed of her uncle, sister, and herself. They don’t fit together perfectly, and Lissa still feels the absence of her parents (who died when she was eight), but they obviously care deeply about each other and make it work. Lissa’s new friends and her employer all have distinct personalities and voices, and they nudge her towards expanding her view on the world. There’s also a whole subplot on lucid dreams that actually was the point when I remembered reading this as a teenager: I found the concept and details so fascinating that I attempted to use what was described in the books to lucid dream myself, so it was obviously a memorable detail.
Kissing Kate maybe isn’t a life-shattering book, but it is a strong book in the lesbian teen genre. I liked that it wasn’t just about coming out, but also about not being so dependent on one other person for your sense of self. And it’s also not a love story, which is different from a lot of lesbian YA. Plus, it gets bonus points for mentioning the possibility that Lissa may be bi. I think this would be a great book to read as a newly out teenager, or just as a quick, satisfying read for anyone.