Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Knopf, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
rom the authors who brought YA readers
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List™
. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan teamed up again to tell the story of friends Naomi and Ely, who have lived in the same Manhattan apartment building (across the hall from each other) since childhood. Ely has two moms, while Naomi lives only with her mother - since her dad left because of an affair he had with one of Ely's moms. Ely's two moms worked things out and are still together, but Naomi's mom can't seem to get it together since dad left. Naomi wishes she could '
shake the blue
' out of mom.
aomi's long been in love with Ely, thinking of future marriage, a home and children. Ely loves her but he is gay. They're in first year at New York University. In alternating chapters, cast members (Naomi, Ely, two Robins, two Bruces, and Gabriel the new building doorman) add their bits to the story. Naomi begins by admitting a propensity to tell lies: to resident Mrs. Loy about walking her dachshund; to the co-op apartment board; to the NYU Admissions Committee; to her mom as to where she spent the night doing what. She has never
gone all the way
with a boy, as she wanted Ely to be the first one. To avoid hiccups in their friendship, the duo created a
No Kiss List™
of people neither is allowed to kiss. Because Bruce the Second is her boyfriend, Naomi saw no reason to put his name on the List. The day arrives however when Ely admits '
I kissed Bruce the Second
ruce the First is an insomniac, who still carries the torch for Naomi after ten years. Others feel Naomi had been '
careless with a delicate boy's feelings
'. Gabriel admits that he's a lousy night doorman, and now the sparks are flying from his interest in beautiful Naomi. Of all the cast, his chapters are the most poetic, and introspective, as he sees things that building residents don't. Naomi's list of
NINE LEVELS OF LOVE
is thoughtful - to mom '
for giving me life, nurturing me, driving me crazy but still inspiring me, even through your heartache
Levels 4–9 are expressions of passion for the great loves of my life, disco music, Snickers bars, the Cloisters, the NBA, stairwell games, the luck to have a life lived with Ely
'; but it's trickiest at Level 10 when '
I tell Ely 'I love you' but I'm not lying to him. I'm lying to myself. He absorbs my words as if they're natural, coming from his best friend / almost-a-sister'.
ohn and Levithan deliver a witty, fast-talking script which catches the reader up in a world of discovery and rediscovery in tenuous relationships. The scenes require full attention as juggling of one character to another may sometimes lose the reader in keeping track of
who is who
(I still don't know who Velma is). Be assured, however, that this multi-voiced novel is a realistic portrait of heartache and friendship - sometimes humorous, and sometimes glamorous - in New York City. The authors remind teens that love can come in all forms as Naomi laments - and then Ely laments - whether their relationship will ever get back to the same state as before the Bruce the Second kiss.
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