Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja - It’s GCSE year, and Bethany is feeling the pressure. She missed the last two days of school because she was ill, and any last minute revision. If that wasn’t bad enough, her long term boyfriend Declan hasn’t phoned her and has been ignoring her texts, and her calendar tells Bethany her period is late. The only person she can really talk to is her BFF Carlota.
Carlota, a wild child, thinks Bethany stresses far too much, and knowing that she has some awful news to tell Bethany, that her boyfriend has cheated on her, she tries to distract her best friend. She has a mad day of Extreme Travelling planned for them both. Along with the help of several issues of her favourite magazine, she hopes a day full of random challenges that takes them all across London, including silent raving to hijacking a tour bus, will calm Bethany down, give her an awesome day she’ll never forget, and it make it easier to tell Bethany about Declan.
Does Bethany have the courage to face her fears and say them out loud? Can Carlota tell Bethany, and risk hurting her? And does Carlota have another reason for wanting to go to London?
I cannot tell you just how brilliant this book is! I thought I would enjoy it, but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. Several times I was laughing out loud so hard, my Dad told me to shut up. It’s just hilarious, but also very moving, seeing the friendship between these two girls, and how much they care about each other. Although the day of Extreme Travelling is supposed to be about light hearted challenges, it also holds emotional challenges for both girls, as they learn about themselves, and have to come to terms with things that are happening in their lives.
Sex isn’t the main focus of this book, but it’s an underlying theme. Bethany is terrified of the idea that she might be pregnant, and what that will mean for her future. Carlota, very confident and flirty, was kicked out of her previous school for being caught with a boy in the lab – what they get up to isn’t gone into in detail. She also has rumours about her going through the school, and gives her kisses to many guys freely. The girls both mention “Kisses Etcetera”, a self-explanatory term created by Carlota of which she is a fan. There are also mentions of Boy Snaring lessons, which Carlota gave to Bethany which led to her being with Declan. There is also the briefest hint of peer-pressure when it comes to sex mentioned in the book, too, as is virginity.
I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but the way Bethany’s possible pregnancy is dealt with is just awesome. Her fears were very real; they weren’t glossed over, but portrayed realistically, without blowing them out of proportion, and I found myself empathising with her in her worry. There is a whole conversation about being safe during sex in the book, but there isn’t too much mention of the precautions someone could take, or the options she would take if it does turn out she’s pregnant. Bethany was very much focusing on “Am I, am I not?” – when she was thinking about it – as opposed to what she might do if she is, like she couldn’t even think that far ahead.
When the girls end up bumping into an ex of Carlota’s, Yves, there is some focus on choice for Carlota in terms of how far she takes things with him. Again, I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, so I won’t go into much detail, but there is a point where she has to seriously look at the situation, and at what she wants, and ask herself some serious questions.
Again, sex isn’t the main focus of the book, but the aspects of it that are in there are dealt with so well, highlighting the questions, the emotions, the fears the girls go through so realistically and maturely, it’s admirable. As hilarious as the book was, it was also very moving and poignant and in some places trying to read. I wish this book had been around when I was younger, and will be forcing it on my cousin ;) An amazing book, one everyone should pick up! Now, who wants to go Extreme Travelling with me?
Thank you to Luisa Plaja for sending me a review copy.
Publisher: Corgi Books
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Luisa Plaja’s website
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