The Kissing Club by Julia Clarke

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The Kissing Club by Julia Clarke

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A fresh and funny story about a girl who takes a vow of chastity and then, whoops, ends up a teenage mother. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds and is a brilliant, engaging read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0192754165

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When I was 14 I joined the Kissing Club. I became a professional virgin and also gave up telling lies. The first bit was pretty easy - the second was pretty hard... Isn't that just the best opener to a book, ever? There are few books I've been more intrigued by following just the first two sentences.

Emily is not, as you might expect, some True-Love-Waits-style American. She's a regular girl from Leeds, who happened across the Kissing Club on a brief visit to the States and was rather taken with the idea. However, you'd never guess where she'd end up a few years on – pregnant while still living at home and studying for her A levels, with no boy in sight.

I thought this was a brilliant read without being quite what I expected. I read the back and expected lots of gory details about hideous chastity clubs and promise rings and ideas of dedicating your young teenage self to your father until some reputable man came along and asked for you hand in marriage. Instead, the Kissing Club is mentioned only briefly – Emily only goes once, on that initial visit to the States – and the story could pretty much manage completely without it even existing as it's not something that gets referred to all that much, despite the title, and despite the situation she finds herself in.

That said, now that you've read this and know what (not) to expect, I think you'd be hard-pushed not to enjoy this book for what it is. How could you not, with lines like this:

I found Augusta's family hard work where godly matters were concerned. I was embarrassed by the way they talked about Jesus as if he was a close family friend and felt slightly threatened by Augusta's habit of reading the diary every day.

It's the understated humour, I like. The tongue-in-cheek stuff. The things that are just classic, whether it's a 16-year-old or a 30-year-old who's saying them. Emily is a brilliantly funny character, though you'd imagine that in real life she would never realise it. Her on-going narrations of what she's just eaten, is about to eat, would quite like to eat are just delicious, as is her unhidden dislike for some of the other characters in the book.

This book doesn't condone or promote underage sex (and I can't recall ever finding out how old, exactly, Emily is, though she's in the 16-18 bracket school-wise) and it doesn't dwell too much on what happened or how it happened, expecting its audience to know – instead, it picks up the clever line of what other people's reactions are, and Emily's biggest problem at one point is not so much the impending birth as it is trying to convince people she's not just fat with a food baby. In fact, a rather large pregnancy is really only a rather small part of the story as a whole, therefore making it suitable for slightly younger readers too, as long as you feel comfortable answering any slightly awkward questions that crop up.

Accidental Friends by Helena Pielichaty is another top read for teens about actions and their potential consequences. Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book. You might also like to take a look at Between You and Me by Julia Clarke.

Booklists.jpg The Kissing Club by Julia Clarke is in the Top Ten Teen Chick Lit Books.

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Buy The Kissing Club by Julia Clarke at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kissing Club by Julia Clarke at


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