Split by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jo has just moved to America with her mum. She's always been a fairly average girl - not a nerd but certainly never one of the popular kids. But on her first day in her new school, she seems to be adopted by the It girls - and is invited to one of their parties. There, she meets Jake Matthews, officially the hottest boy in school, and when they begin to play the kissing-in-the-closet game, Seven Minutes in Heaven, amazingly Jake picks Jo join him in the closet! She can't believe her luck. But the reality of being kissed and groped by Jake is not quite as great as the fantasy... Jo has a choice to make: should she carry on, kiss Jake and secure her position in the It crowd - or should she tell him where to get off and risk relegation back to the land of the ordinary . . . ?

At this moment - Jo splits. She's Josie the Cool - girlfriend of Jake, member of the It crowd. She's also Jo the Nerd - rejected by the It crowd, single . . .

Will her two halves ever come back together again? Is Jake the guy she's meant to be with or could some of the other people she meets along her journey - Rachel the scary goth, David the misfit or Albie the rocker - be the answer?

A fabulously inventive, heartwarming and funny take on the Sliding Doors idea, for teen readers.

Though it’s a bit lighter in tone than books I usually read, I really enjoyed Split by a Kiss – I loved the whole concept of a person splitting in two, though what really happened was two different realities were created. In one, Jo slaps Jake in the face and tells him to be more respectful. Had I been at the party, I’d’ve given Jo a high-five (Jake is really, truly awful) but Jo’s actions aren’t taken well by the other partygoers. It’s revealed the boyfriend Jo accidentally made-up isn’t real, and she’s suddenly excluded from the popular group, becoming Jo the Nerd (which really is Jo as herself).

In the other reality, she starts going out with Jake, and remains a part of the cool group of girls, even though she kind of compromises herself to do so. All through the novel, we go between Jo the Nerd and Josie the Cool… but in both realities Jo makes a lot of mistakes and everything goes really terribly.

I loved all of the differences Jo notes between the UK and the US, and there were so many really touching, funny scenes. Though through a lot of the novel it seems very lightweight (and quite hilarious) there’s a really nice heart to the story, and Josie is a very relatable – albeit misguided, and boy-crazy to say the least – character. The transitions between her two realities – and how they crash back together – was completely seamless, and never confusing.

One thing which disappointed me was that in the end Jo does end up with someone, when I think, honestly, she’d be far better off on her own, and I think it would be far braver of her to be independent (not that she’s necessarily dependent on the person she winds up with, but hopefully you understand where I’m coming from). That said, that’s only how I would’ve preferred the book to finish. I think other readers probably would’ve been disappointed if she didn’t win a boyfriend in the end.

Fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Louise Rennison and Meg Cabot’s novels I think will really enjoy Split by a Kiss. I think it’d be suitable for girls 12 and older, and certainly worth a read. Split by a Kiss is a super-enjoyable, hilariously funny novel.

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