The Kissing Deadline by Emily Evans
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: July 27, 2012
Pages: 146 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Fans of "putting on a play" young-adult comedies, such as Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Janette Rallison, classic John Hughes teen comedies such as Sixteen Candles from 1984, or the adult romantic comedy movie, You've Got Mail, will greatly enjoy this fast, fun comedy of errors.
Cassie is an almost-sixteen sophomore who has never been kissed, mainly because, as a shy introvert, she's never dated. Her two best friends insist it's past time for her to launch herself into the world of dating, and they set a deadline that before she turns sixteen in a few weeks, she must kiss a high school boy. Ideally, it would be someone she is attracted to and is dating, but her friends proclaim that being kissed is the paramount necessity, and they have a ten-step plan for accomplishing the goal of shoving Cassie out of her shell.
When they announce their mission to Cassie, it immediately becomes obvious to her friends that though Cassie is at the Volkswagen (or even motor scooter) level of the school's social hierarchy, she has Ferrari tastes. Gorgeous, popular Ryan is, even as a sophomore, one of the hottest guys in school, way out of Cassie's league, and she's had a hopeless crush on him for ages. Not only doesn't he even know she's alive, he has a girlfriend, a cheerleader named Amber who is Cassie's complete opposite. She's as good-looking and outgoing as Ryan, a co-equal member of the school's elite, and her family is almost as prosperous as his. What Ryan doesn't seem to realize, though, is a major flaw in Amber that is glaringly evident to everyone else at school--she doesn't know the meaning of fidelity, as she blatantly cheats on him with multiple boys.
As part of their plan to put Cassie where she has a chance to interact with kissable boys, her friends urge Cassie to try out for the school play, something her BFF's do every year and Cassie never has. No one is surprised when Ryan wins the male lead and Amber is selected as his leading lady, and Cassie is relieved that she herself is only offered a small, non-speaking part. But unfortunately for her issues with shyness, Cassie is also chosen as Amber's understudy. Because of Amber's flakiness about showing up for play practice, the director commands Cassie to take Amber's place, and she's overwhelmed by the simultaneously thrilling and terrifying experience of acting the part of Ryan's beloved on stage.
This is an extremely cute story that is a terrific combination of chick-lit-style, comic, relationship disasters and sweetly sexy romance. Cassie is the classic, naive heroine, and Ryan is a fascinating combination of socially savvy male and seemingly clueless cuckold. In the midst of the comedy, though, Ryan's motivation for staying loyal to his unfaithful girlfriend is carefully and believably exposed.
In addition to the comedy created by the main storyline of the kissless Cassie, there are many moments of laugh-out-loud humor generated by the antics of two marvelous subcharacters who are my particular favorites in this book, the school's coach, who also teaches science, and Cassie's younger brother.
Though this isn't a traditional romance in the sense that Ryan is not technically available to potentially date Cassie for most of the book, the plot device of a central romantic conflict of one of the romantic protagonists being tied up in a relationship with an unfaithful partner is a popular, time-honored trope in romantic comedy movies, and it works very well in this book.
I am a huge fan of comedy in general, and romantic comedy in particular, and I am always delighted when I am fortunate enough to encounter YA romantic comedy. It is, sadly, far too rare, with so much emphasis in the YA market on melodramatic plots, whether in the form of family/social drama or horrifying dystopians. It is the proverbial cherry on the top of the sundae when the YA, romantic-comedy author I discover has as much talent as Emily Evans. In my humble opinion, she is a rising star worthy of the ranks of YA luminaries such as Janette Rallison, and I have read with delight every romantic comedy she's written so far.
Parental Guidance: As is the case with all YA books by Ms. Evans, this is a "clean read," with no more overt sexuality contained in the book than kissing, no swearing, and no drunken, underage parties.
I purchased this book in a Kindle edition, and it is well edited and well formatted.
I rate this book as follows:
Subcharacters: 5 (I'd give the coach and the heroine's brother 6 stars if I could!)
Comedy-of-Errors Plot: 5
Romance Plot: 5