When I was in the fifth grade my class got marched down to the library about once a month to check out books. I don’t remember how it started, but me and some of the girls in my class started pointing out to each other which books had kissing in them (a girl could only read Little Women so many times before she started to feel a little frustrated) and soon a kissing book network was formed. After the class settled down in the library and we were left to our perusing devices, me and a few girls would huddle together and share our recommendations. This proved to be a valuable resource. I was an avid reader, but in my preteen years I craved passion in print. Those burgeoning hormones needed literary catharsis.
I recently made it my mission to track down and reread some of these “kissing books,” but recalling titles and authors proved to be a little tougher than I thought it would be. Fortunately, I was able to find a few. And, oh boy, are they amazing. Here is #3 on the list:
#3: Tiger Eyes – Judy Blume (1981)
Davey’s father is murdered during a convenience store robbery. Grief stricken and unable to deal with the day to day in the aftermath of what’s happened, Davey, her mom, and younger brother go stay with an aunt and uncle in New Mexico to get away from familiar surroundings. Their visit soon turns in to an extended stay for the duration of the school year.
One day while exploring her surroundings and feeling angry at the universe, Davey meets Wolf, a totally boss dreamboat of an older boy who happens to be home from college to take care of his dying father… (insert your favorite Bruce Springsteen love song here). Feeling feisty, Davey tells him her name is “Tiger.” They hang out, mostly by meeting in the canyon where they first met, hiking around, and not talking about whatever they feel like not talking about. It’s, like, totally deep.
Davey struggles from time to time with living under her aunt and uncle’s house rules. She corresponds little with her best friend, Lenaya, and boyfriend, Hugh, back home (whom she was getting hot and heavy with the night her father was shot) and she struggles to connect with her mother who’s having a difficult time keeping it together. There’s ups and downs and highs and lows as each family member deals with grief in their own way. Eventually, Davey’s family is able to find the strength to move on and they decide to go back home to New Jersey.
Now, if you’re hoping for a happy ending with Wolf and “Tiger” locking lips and going steady, you’re gonna be let down. Big time. It never happens. But apparently hope and possibility were enough to keep my preteen heart goin’.
**I hear a movie adaptation surfaced sometime this year, so keep your Judy Blume fan ears to the ground.**
Stay tuned for Part 4 of Kissing Books: A Nostalgia Tour when I discuss “My Darling, My Hamburger” by Paul Zindel.
What are your kissing book nostalgia favorites?