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The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
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The Things You Kiss Goodbye

by Leslie Connor

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Bettina is making the best of her situation - an overbearing father and not a lot of personal freedom leaves Bettina compromising in order to make room in her life for some breathing room. Along the way she finds herself balancing her own desires with pressures that others put on her - what is she willing to put up with? what is she willing to fight for? The ending suggests things might not be exactly what Bettina always thought they were - or maybe the events created a change? Thought provoking. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Feb 18, 2015 |
I have to admit that after starting this book and getting a good feel for it in the first few chapters, I was stunned. I didn’t want to read this because I wasn’t ready for this kind of story. Nevertheless, its a very good story. It had me caught from the first chapter. The lessons of life and love are both tragic and enduring.

Plot: This is about a girl who comes upon a relationship that takes her up and down. Each part of her relationship is nicely detailed so that the reader can understand each part without it being rushed. As the story continues to unfold, Bettina comes upon another relationship that is much more consuming than the first. Out of all the stories I read this year, I really like this relationship. It not only felt realistic but it was overwhelming. It was one of those relationships that catches the reader from the start and you can’t look away.

Friendships/Love: After reading the story, I thought about Bettina for days. She stayed in my mind because I wondered what I would have done in her shoes. Her life is chaotic yet she experienced something wonderful in such a short period of time. I wanted more for her. I think she deserved more. Like life, its short and something she nor I will ever forget. Despite the bad things that Bettina battled, I think it changed her.

Ending: Because I was so caught up with Bettina’s ongoing relationship I did not foresee the ending. It was one of those endings that completely took me by surprise and left me in shock. I thought about this part for days. It sucks. Life sucks. And boy do I wish there was a different ending. I get the title now. At first I thought it was just some regular teen romance but no, this is more. So much more. Its real life in a compact, well written, beautiful story that once you start there is no turning back.

The Things You Kiss Goodbye is a fabulous book that is both grounded yet breathtaking. The calibration of drama with sentiments of life, makes it a satisfying story that you should read. ( )
1 vote Bookswithbite | Aug 29, 2014 |
(2.5 rounded up)
I wanted to read The Things You Kiss Goodbye because Bettina's tragedy caught my attention, as well as the change in Brady and what sparked that. So, I've gotta say it was a little darker than I expected, and maybe I should have known that from the synopsis, but the cover still makes it look a little lighter and summery. Not that I mind darker but others might not, so figured I would throw that out there.

We got right into the drama after a little prologue, which I didn't really understand why it was there. It gave a date and then it went to chapter one, and I don't feel like it added much to the story, and I would have been fine with just starting at Chapter one.

We get a pretty good sense of Bettina, that her family was very traditional greek and strict and she was rebelling against it. She didn't quite fit in at school especially after her best friend, fellow dancer and leader in meeting new people and stretching their boundaries moved away. So I could see how she would be vulnerable and that Brady would seem as wonderful. And I did like him at first. I felt like things were a little rushed from saying hello to their carefree summer of dating and chaste kisses. Brady actually gets her dad's approval and then he convinced Bettina to join cheerleading to be at his games and so they can spend more time together.

I think that the shift we see in Brady was rushed. That one second they have a close and cute romance and then a switch flips. Maybe it is because we get it from Bettina, but I think that the warning signs are still there for the reader and I wanted to know more about what sparked the change in Brady. Why he was suddenly distant from her when he did revere her, and then the huge jump in their physical involvement. Of course I began to dislike him the more and more he became like a bully. I think that it was important that this showed that physical abuse doesn't always have to be a smack in the face--he hurt her hand, caused her to trip, pulled her hair, and then wrote it all off as he was teasing her and playing around.

What got to me though is how Bettina stayed in it. She knew it was an abusive relationship and she shouldn't let him go on with it. But she felt stuck. Her parents were strict and she used him in order to keep getting to get out of the house.

Things with Cowboy... Well, I think that in itself should have been the story. Instead of adding in Brady and the abuse, I think that she had enough material to just focus on Cowboy. The love triangle bugged me and so did the cheating, because she obviously had feelings for him while she was with Brady. Anyways, I liked that everything started slow and innocent. Even with the age difference, that didn't bother me. He was careful and he saw her for who she was. He called her Beta and they enjoyed each other's presence. Bettina felt like she could be herself around him, and that he understood her. He has his own back story that I think could have been elaborated on, and then the questions that were left unanswered at the end... I so wish that we could have had those answers... But since we don't I had to take rating down some.

Though there were some pretty hot kisses between Bettina and Cowboy, I liked how their friendship evolved into more. It wasn't just bam, I see you, we speak and I love you. Sure there was some serious attraction going on, but that doesn't and shouldn't equal love.

But I like where they left Bettina. Branching out, learning to stand up for herself, and then with her family adjusting and accepting that they are her parents and she has to do her part in the family and can't make all the decisions herself. The way that Bettina and her mother ended up having a lot in common and finally bridged their relationship was also good to see. Her friendships with Tony and Bonnie also changed a lot from the beginning to where she finally was okay letting others in a little more and realizing that Brady, nor any other person should make decisions for her or force her into things.

Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was Bettina with Tony's nonna Regina. She is a fiesty old lady, and so blunt about everything. Seeing Bettina get used to her personality and then slowly opening up to her was nice. It was an unexpected friendship for her, and a source of comfort to one another.

The ending.... It was sad and it was powerful. Bettina had to go through something so hard, and she didn't have answers for why and how, and didn't know how to move on. I think that it was a perfect picture of grief, an example that I hadn't quite seen played out yet, and I think that is so important to show that everyone copes with tragedies differently and how they handle it and move on is varied. I know that Bettina didn't get the answers she wanted, and maybe that is why we didn't either, that shows how it is realistically. But still... It was hard. It felt incomplete to me and I feel like maybe the tragedy was just a simple way out instead of having to deal with the issues that it involved.

Bottom Line: Dark and emotional story but felt incomplete. A lot that I liked mixed with stuff that I didn't. ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Jun 23, 2014 |
Bettina Vasilis is the arty, loner type. She is rebelling against her strict, traditional Greek father by living in leather and boots and doing all sorts of henna tattoos. She is a talented dancer but gives it up when her best friend and fellow dancer moves away and her father starts talking about how hard it is to schedule all the driving around now that her younger brothers are in Little League.

When she meets a shy basketball player named Brady Cullen she begins sneaking out to see him. He manages to convince her father to let them date officially. In order for them to spend more time together, Bettina goes out for cheerleading despite having no interest in it and despite the fact that the other girls ignore her. Things are great for a while but after a few months of dating, Brady changes. He is starting to get rough with Bettina who keeps making excuses for him.

Once after he crushed her fingers and left the imprint of her school ring on her hand, she ran and met a young man who cared for her. She called him Cowboy and started spending time at the garage where he restores old cars. The two form a friendship despite their age difference. They also find that the have some things in common. Cowboy's mother abused him when he was younger and still does occasionally now. She lost her husband and her other sons because of her behavior but Cowboy hangs on. Cowboy is the opposite of Brady. He listens to Bettina, treats her gently, and cares about her. But he isn't someone Bettina's father would ever approve of.

The story is filled with a girl trying to deal with her father's rules, her boyfriend's abuse, and a new growing love. It was intense and engaging and heart-breaking. I can't wait to share it with my high school girls. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jun 1, 2014 |
(PW starred)
  RebelPrintz | May 19, 2014 |
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"High school junior Bettina Vasilisis is trapped in a relationship with her basketball star boyfriend when she meets Cowboy, a car mechanic whom her traditional father would not approve of"--

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