What They Found: Love on
Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Knopf. $16.99.
Red Glass. By Laura Resau. Delacorte Press. $15.99.
People outside the mainstream are just like people inside it. In fact, the distinction between “mainstream” and “outside” gets harder to make in the United States as general tolerance of people with non-mainstream skin color, sexual orientation and ethnicity increases (despite some strong and notable backlash). These three books appear to target audiences within audiences: teens or preteens, but specifically ones who are “different” from the majority in one way or another.
What They Found: Love on
Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, also for ages 14 and up, is not a sequel in content, but is a followup to Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s first team-writing effort, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. The new book, in place of the earlier one’s he-said-she-said format, offers multiple viewpoints that collectively explore the complexities of the relationship that Naomi and Ely have had since they were kids. Naomi wishes they would end up together, but Ely is gay, so that won’t happen, and the two decide to create the no-kiss list of the title to indicate people who are hands off (or lips off) for both of them. Of course, the list doesn’t quite work out: Ely kisses Naomi’s boyfriend, and a series of revelations and misunderstandings leads to a complete breakdown in the Naomi-Ely friendship – which the two then painstakingly repair as they work their way back toward a more knowing version of what they once had together. The convolutions are a bit much here, and the sexual exploration will not be to all tastes, but the story is well told and the varying viewpoints add additional interest.
Red Glass, the second novel by Laura Resau, features someone who is an outsider not by skin color or sexuality but simply by geography. Like her first book, What the Moon Saw, this tale is about finding yourself by finding the place where you belong and the people with whom you fit, no questions asked. But of course you must ask many questions to get to the no-questions-asked stage, and Sophie asks lots of them in Red Glass. A fearful child herself, she wants to know why almost-six-year-old Pedro was carrying the business card of Sophie’s stepfather, who does not know him, when Pedro tried to sneak across the Mexican border into the
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