Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.
But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.
Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.
When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.
Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.
Fortunate enough, I’ve never first-handedly witnessed/experience the hazards of a psychically abusive relationship. Verbal? Arguable. But that’s a conversation for some other long night. I can only imagine how much this novel rings true for the so many people out there afraid of leaving their significant other if only for the awaiting repercussions. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see this sort of thing finally played out the right way in YA. The only other time I’ve seen an abusive relationship portrayed as what I would think is accurate was in Dreamland by Sarah Dessen and as timeless as that novel is to me, it was written too many years ago to be okay with. I can easily see The Things You Kiss Goodbye becoming another one of those timeless novels, the way it should.
I was so lovely seeing Bettina meet Cowboy and having him open up so many doors for her. Their friendship is mostly what kept me reading only because the relationship between Bettina and Brady was much too cringe-worthy for my taste. Any time Brady’s name came up on a page I got an eerily familiar feeling that just wouldn’t go away and I felt myself in fear, not for the first time, for a fictional character. Even though I sometimes felt the levels of abuse were getting a bit too high, I have to admire Leslie’s ability to handle and write out these situations. Nearly impeccable, and oh so true, in regards to Bettina’s response to most of them. Cowboy’s story was also such a tragedy and it breaks my heart to think that Bettina found another boy to mend her heart that was only just as broken as she was. If the situation were any different, I might have thought that the relationship/friendship wouldn’t have worked out at all. Two broken people trying to fix each other never seems to work out. But, alas, it did work, and I hate the way things ended for Cowboy and I’m totally convinced it did not have to end the way it did, but I know firsthand that authors are incredible beings that can’t be explained so I won’t question Leslie’s reasoning any further. I will just continue to seep in my ball of depression, is all. Cowboy was such a beautiful boy, and I wish he would have gotten to do everything he’d spoken of to Bettina.
The epilogue of The Things You Kiss Goodbye was pretty spectacular and I forgive Connor for all the pain she’s causing me just because this book is so moving, so relevant. This is one of those books that’s going to have you thinking about it long after you’ve turned the final page.
Anyone looking for a beautiful read about courage and dignity among all the other things the right kind of love can supply us with once we let it in will love The Things You Kiss Goodbye.