The Things You Kiss Goodbye
By Leslie Connor
Available June 2014
Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.
But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.
Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.
When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.
Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.
This Blonde’s Review:
Bettina was amazed when her father allowed her to start dating Brady. He’s a sweet football player with popular friends. The friends never accepted her or their relationship, they say it as something temporary. As time goes on Brady stops being sweet and starts to mistreat her. When abuse starts slowly it is easy to think maybe it isn’t that bad. Except when seen from the outside it’s clearly wrong.
Thanks to Brady’s abuse and her need to get away Bettina meets a guy she calls Cowboy. He’s kind and allows her to be without criticizing her. Their friendship grows and she starts to find it harder to resist spending more time with him. Bettina tries to maintain their friendship without her family or Brady catching on. Her family isn’t very supportive, her father is very strict and treats her like everything she does is an inconvenience to him.
When Bettina realizes that the way she feels for Cowboy is bigger than everything else, she decides it is worth being together even if her family will be against it. I didn’t really feel the connection. It seemed to just happen without feeling like we had gotten to know him well. It’s like we were told about a few things and those few things were supposed to endear us quickly. I wasn’t feeling it though.
When something huge happens Bettina is devastated. Watching her struggle to get through is sad. I didn’t connect very strongly with most of the characters, there were a few side characters who had more passion and life to them that I’d have rather known more. Seeing the way people treated her after that kind of blow made me so angry with the people around her. I hated seeing that but at the same time, it was more realistic than if everyone had suddenly become supportive.
I liked that not everyone came around in the end, some characters slowly came to realize that they were wrong while others made excuses. I didn’t care for the way they wanted to push of the blame on others. I also didn’t like that not everything came out when I felt that it should have, some secrets shouldn’t stay hidden.
I didn’t connect to the characters the way I like to. I also wanted more relationship building. The tragedy was sad but it wasn’t something that hit me. It really was like a sad thing that happened to someone else. But that was the thing that made the rest of the book worthwhile.
This would be a good book for someone who wants to see a character recover and become stronger after something turns their life upside down. You’ll appreciate the character growth at the end most.