she speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her
breath were as terrible as her terminations, there
were no living near her; she would infect to the north star
--much ado about nothing, act ii, scene 1, lines 248-251
aurora skye, the heroine of how to keep a boy from kissing you, reminded me a lot of georgia nicholson, though clearly less absurd/insane. but you can't tell me that tara eglington wasn't inspired by louise rennison, and with aurora she gives us a lead character worth rooting for.
there were so many reasons i enjoyed aurora: she is smart and funny, she loves her friends and genuinely tries helping them succeed in their romantic endeavors, she is idealistic about love but isn't willing to settle. aurora has her ideals, and yes maybe it's a little ridiculous that she's basing her ideals on sleeping beauty. (especially since one of the reasons she hasn't kissed any boy at all is because she has this idea of her first kiss being the one, where in the story whether or not this was sleeping beauty's first kiss was irrelevant, it needed to be "true love's kiss" so one could argue that it didn't matter how many guys kissed sleeping beauty as long as her true love did at some point she would be okay.)
anyway, aurora has this great group of friends, particularly cassie and jelena. as well as sara and lindsay. and she also has a nemesis. her neighbor, hayden paris, who has witnessed many an embarrassing end to a date and who knows more than anyone what her life was before her mom left, and what it's become since then. aurora can't help but think the worst of hayden every chance she gets. and he can't stop himself from needling her. but in between the arguments and the teasing, you can's help but wonder if maybe, just maybe aurora should stop being so hard on him. maybe hayden really does mean well.
when hayden and aurora are selected to play beatrice and benedick in their high school production of much ado about nothing after a private argument inadvertently turns into a public audition, aurora does her best to resist seeing hayden in a new light. even as beatrice opens her eyes to the fact that perhaps there is love behind benedick's actions, aurora refuses to give poor hayden a chance. she looks everywhere and at anyone else for something that exists right next door.
but watching aurora realize how she feels is really an enjoyable process. even when she is being stubborn, you totally get why she has all this emotional upheaval. her feelings for hayden are mixed up with her feelings about her parent's divorce, her estrangement from her mother, her father's recent commitment to new age ideals, and her determination to stick to her find a prince program (tm).
the novel echoes some of the themes from shakespeare's play but overall it's a story about friendship and trusting your instincts about people and learning how to recognize what true love is. it's a really sweet novel, and i look forward to seeing more of aurora skye in the next novel in the series, how to convince a boy to kiss you which i believe is scheduled to publish in 2017.
**how to keep a boy from kissing you will publish on october 25, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.