Kissing in America by Margo Rabb Review: A Roadtrip of Discovery

June 25, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb Review: A Roadtrip of DiscoveryKissing in America by Margo Rabb
Published by Penguin Australia on May 26, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls “gorgeous, funny, and joyous,” readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all of its forms.

Kissing in America is a story about a girl with unrealistic expectations of love, from reading too many romance novels.

Sound familiar? Eva was quite relatable, being cautious in every other area of her life but love. She’s been pining over a guy for a long time, who she develops a genuine friendship with. But when he breaks up with his popular girlfriend and kisses Eva, she believes she’s in love and goes on a roadtrip across the country just to reunite with him.

I can stand back and criticise Eva for her actions or I can feel for her plight. She genuinely believes she’s in love, not having anything else to go by but the relationships she’s witnessed in her romance novels, where heroes and heroines would move the world just to be with each other. While Eva’s grand scheme sounded silly and obsessive, she really doesn’t know any better and my younger self can relate to that naivety.

“Grief isn’t like a map you can follow. It’s not a simple route with a destination. Sometimes you loop back and find yourself in the exact same place you left.” 

With a father who has died from a plane crash, never really giving Eva and her mother closure, and her mother’s cold and callous way of coping with things while further distancing herself from her teenage daughter, Eva wants to believe that there is some good in her life.

I really felt for Eva, she’s normally anxious in every sense of the world but even I could have told her what she’d be waiting for at the other end of the line. The good thing is that during her road trip with her best friend and her aunty Janet, she did some soul searching along the way while finding out what the greater country has to offer her. As they road trip through Texas, Cleveland, Tucson, and finally LA, we get to experience cowboys, diners and the different personalities these towns can offer.

Most importantly, Eva got to move through her grief, repair her relationship with her mother and find out some real home truths about the people she should really be focusing on.

I’d thought the blank page was a giant slab of raw pain, but once I was inside it, it was like looking off to the side during a horror movie, realizing that all that fear isn’t necessary or real. That’s what writing did, what I’d forgotten: how it unraveled the tangled feelings and wove them into something new. 


Kissing in America is quite a slow novel, with a big journey in between with lots of travelling and experiencing of each small town and the different people Eva would meet along the way. It’s less about the end game and more about the journey. Although it offered some really great reflective moments about grief and longing, with fantastic realistic character building for Eva, I wasn’t really invested in her plight and the slow draggy journey along the way.

But I liked the ending and how the whole thing felt realistic. Because real life works very differently to fiction which we’ve all learnt the hard way.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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34 responses to “Kissing in America by Margo Rabb Review: A Roadtrip of Discovery

  1. a girl with unrealistic expectations of love, from reading too many romance novels. <– story of my life, haha, also Asian dramas don't help 😛

    That's too bad the story got draggy! Sounded like it had a lot potential, I usually adore road trip story. I'm glad there were still great moments, but I might hold off on this for a bit. Great review, Jeann!
    My recent post Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

  2. Hmmm. I had never even bothered to read the synopsis of this book, because just judging by the title and the cover, I knew it wasn't for me. And now your review has pretty much cemented that.

    I also just don't like those "self discovery journey" type novels, because they always have this annoying unrealistic edge to them.

    I think it's sad that our belief in fictional love and everything that comes with it gets ruined as we get older, so I think that aspect might have made me a little sad and nostalgic.

    Lovely review as always, Jeannie <3

  3. Lisa @ Lost in Lit

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Seems like a bit more than I did. I had a few problems with it. I felt it was choppy and sloppy, and there were parts that kind of didn't fit. I also hated the whole "I need a man" vibe. But then there were parts I did really enjoy. It was a tough book for me to review. :-/
    My recent post Lost in Our Thoughts: Binging on Netflix!

  4. Eugenia

    Nice review Jeann! Haha once I saw 'A road to discovery' I couldn't help but think of that being the Area of Study we have to do for English this year (but that's another story). I like the sound of the realistic nature of this story, and am looking forward to reading my review copy. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Shannelle C.

    I found the book fun but just a little shallow. But that whole romance novels part was hilarious!

    • Yeah, the different personalities and towns they hit along the way brought a lot of hear to it. Thanks Braine!

  6. I'm a massive fan of adventure type road trips, the quirky characters along the way. Unfortunately the romance in this sounds a little typical of young adult which makes me worry. Even though it's fictional, I worry that these unrealistic romances set the bar a little too high for teens who are falling in love with an idea of what love should really be. Even unrequited love. I might still give this a try though, hopefully the slow pacing won't impact on the read TOO much. Wonderful review Jeann and sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this more.
    My recent post How To Be Bad… ROAD TRIP!

    • Yeah, sometimes the romance in these books I can't relate to, I totally know what you mean Kelly. I definitely had unrealistic ideals when I was younger as well. Thanks Kelly!

  7. The reviews for this one have been all over the place—but I have to admit that i'm sucker for roadtrip stories so I see myself eventually getting around to this one. That being said, i'm not sure how I feel about the cover. It reminds me too much of "I'll Meet You There."
    My recent post You (You #1): Review

  8. quinnsbo

    I picked this one up at BEA, and I was really excited about reading it, but now I've been hearing more mediocre things about it. As a reader and lover of romance novels, I am somewhat annoyed with the whole "she reads romances so her expectations are too high" thing, but maybe it's not as obnoxious as I'm fearing it is.

    Thanks for the review!

  9. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    Aww this sounds really cute! I think I'd try to understand Eva rather than judge her cause… We've all been naive about love at some point. I love road trips and self discovery, and even if it wasn't a favorite of yours I'm still willing to give it a try. great review, Jeann! 🙂

  10. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    Sounds like a cute book – Love a road trip. Not so sure since it's slow but the premise sounds adorable – Great review!
    My recent post Help Me Binge

  11. So she lives in a fantasy? hehe. THAT WOULD BE ME. Except not about romance, unfortunately, I just have severely warped expectations about how when exactly I'm going to suddenly develop super powers. *pouts* I feel like this wouldn't be the book for me, because I'm so so squinty at romances normally, and I hate it when people do SO MUCH for a love interest they barely know. Or who (I think obviously) is not gonna work out. So yeah. Unromantic? Right here. -_- I DO LIKE THAT COVER THOUGH.