Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (review copy) - Naomi loves Ely and she's kinda in love wih him. Ely loves Naomi but he prefers to be in love with boys.
Naomi and Ely have been friends forever. Best freinds. Soul mates. And just to be sure, they've created NO KISS LIST - their list of people who are absolutely off-kissing-limits for both of them.
And this works fine - until Bruce.
Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But then Ely kisses Bruce - and the resulting fallout is going to shake up the world! From the blurb
I was looking forward to reading Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan simply for the authors. I wasn't too sure if I liked the sound of it, though. I was a little worried. Sounded a little similar to Pretty Things by Sarra Manning, and although I enjoyed that, I didn't really need another one. However, I fell completely in love with this story, and got so much more from it than I expected. I should have known better, I guess.
Naomi and Ely are best friends. Naomi is also in love with Ely, but Ely is gay. Then Ely kisses - and then steals - Naomi's boyfriend, Bruce. Naomi is beyond hurt. But it's not so much that Ely stole her boyfriend, but rather the fact that because of him stealing her boyfriend, she's finally realised there will never be a Naomi & Ely.
This is a book about friendship. How many YA novels about friendship are there? But of all the one's I've read - and this may be to do with Levithan and his (yes, I will say it again) absolutely beautiful way with words - this is the one that is going to stick out in my mind from this point on as being the one that really gets it. I am an adult that reads YA, and I know from when I was a teenager, you have all these friends and they're amazing, and they mean everything to you at the time, but as you get older, things change, people change, and you may not fall out, but you just don't quite fit anymore. Because of the ages of Naomi and Ely - never strictly said, but around 18/19, believe, as they're at college - this could be considered a new adult novel (though published as YA), yet they're teenagers still, and it has that YA feel. BUT (and this is my point) this is the first friendship I've read in a YA/new adult novel that I feel, at it's heart, is an ageless friendship. A friendship that is no matter what the friends' ages. I really identified with the importance and depth of their friendship, if not the characters.
It is, of course, also about unrequited love. The general story I didn't relate to, but this element I did. Though I do feel that Naomi was a little naive about it all. I know love makes you hopeful, but she's in a completely hopeless situation, so how she was able to delude herself into thinking there was hope, I don't quite get. She's not a child. It did make me feel sorry for her, though, because when she finally realised, oh my god, so much heartache. I wasn't her biggest fan, I felt she had a bit of an attitude, and she didn't always treat people nicely, but I was intrigued by her and sympathised. It was interesting to see where the story took her.
Bruce was straight until Ely. He has his own little story going on. The focus is mostly on Naomi and Ely, but there are other little stories for the other characters too, and Bruce gets his own. And he's confused and unsure - not about his sexuality, though that has come as quite a bit of a shock - but about Ely. He feels what he feels, but he's not quite sure if he and Ely are right. He feels Ely is out of his league, and they're such different people. Bruce is insecure, and Ely is confident, especially in his sexuality, which just heightens Bruce's insecurity. I did want to give him a hug so many times and tell him to stop thinking, but his worries did make him endearing - which was necessary, because the guy did cheat on his girlfriend, and he wasn't doing so good in my books.
Naomi & Ely is a really melancholic book, but beautiful with it. It makes you hurt, but a good kind of hurt, a hurt that matters, because their friendship matters and it just can't be over! As the book says, 'You can't just erase hope and love and history.' (p219) Right? Seriously. It's brilliant in all it's sadness, and I absolutely loved it. I do so hope Cohn and Levithan write more books together, because their's is a perfect partnership.
Thank you to Electric Monkey for the review copy.
Published: 3rd July 2014
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Rachel Cohn's Website
David Levithan's Website