I needed to read something light and charming and hopeful and delightful, yet not empty because I can't abide empty books, and Second Kiss delivered in spades "Even my most humiliating moments seemed funny somehow when I told them to Jess." Gemma Mitchell is a normal girl who somehow gets herself into abnormally embarrassing circumstances. And while she thinks she's the biggest loser in school because of them, there are a few people in her life who would disagree. One of those people is her best friend, Jess Tyler, who is opposite to her in every way. He's popular, good looking, athletic, and intelligent, and he can't get enough of Gemma. But while Gemma is dealing with problems like wrong locker combinations and Valentine's Day dances, Jess is living in a world of serious issues that are foreign to Gemma, until she realizes that he's holding on to her for dear life. Humorous and true to life, Second Kiss is an entertaining saga about a boy and girl who find that their lives have a lot more meaning once they have shared them with each other.1.
Gemma and Jess are one of those duos that dumbfounds me; they've known each other since they were knee high to a grasshopper, have lived across the street from each other since they were born, even, and have walked to school every day since Jess's mom offered him as an escort for Gemma on her first day kindergarten2. I'm a military brat since birth, so every time I come across someone like this, my eyes kind of bug out. It seems unnatural to me to be in one place that long, let alone to know someone you're not directly related to for so long, but I so enjoy reading about it. Y'all might find this sort of thing to be mundane, but it's incredibly exotic to my mind.
I loved the relationship between Gemma and Jess. It's the sort of relationship that you either have and are eternally grateful for, or, if you don't, wish you had or spend your whole life looking for.
The story was very character driven. There were some big issues that Gemma and Jess had to deal with as they grew up but it always came back to how they relied on each other to get through those rough patches. Up to a point, that is. Eventually they must learn to stand on their own, and it's a hard lesson to learn for two people who have spent their whole lives sharing each other's burdens.
Second Kiss wasn't just an endearing say-awww-at-the-end-of-every-chapter3 story, though. It also had a lot of humor. Gemma's life is ripe with embarrassing stories that she shares with Jess. He gives her a sense of balance, and, while he may not always make her feel better about her lot, he at least gives her perspective. He also gives her the Jess Smile4. Who wouldn't feel better about having sat by the dumpster all day after being on the receiving end of that? And, no, the story wasn't all smiles and adorableness; Jess, as the synopsis let on about, is dealing with very serious issues that lead him to rely more heavily on Gemma for consolation and strength. Gemma, who is incredibly naive and in some ways childish, has to grow up as she learns to help her friend deal and as she, too, learns to deal with her own drama. She was a bit dramatic at times, but I never found it to be annoying because that's just who she was. My only issue was that Jess sometimes seemed like he had always been 16-17 and Gemma had to grow into him. I suppose it was because he had to grow up a lot faster than Gem5, due in no small part to his home life, but it was due to his God-given nature6.
Another thing I loved about this book was Gemma's family. Her parents were very realistic and loving and, most importantly of all, present. Her family was there through all the drama and she talked with her mom and dad about her life. They weren't just cardboard standee type characters,either, they were just as real as Gemma in their troubles and reactions and failures and triumphs. I loved them.
I give Second Kiss...
...four and half zombies.
I can't even explain what it is that I love so much about this book. It was endearing, and sweet, and hopeful, and real, and so full of adorable and love that you simply must read it. Seriously. Second Kiss is my new favorite love story, and Gem and Jess are one of my favorite duos.
& i recommend
1 Fear not, Reader, I read this the week after St. Valtentine's Day. The Lenten Reading Challenge lives on!
2 Jess is one year older than Gemma, though lightyears more mature. I loved the contrast of Gemma's dramatic innocent naivete with Jess' wise and stalwart sweetness.
3 Which, BTW, I did. At the end of almost every chapter, I just closed the book for a moment and basked in the charm of this story.
4 The Jess Smile has great power. It could bring about world peace. On the flip side, it could also start wars, if mis-fired...
5 Jess was the only person allowed to call her Gem.
6 He was just an old soul with a very mature outlook on love and life. Oh! I just realized what I like about him so much: Jess was a gentleman, pure and simple. But I digress.