“Naomi and Ely have been inseparable since childhood–partially because they’ve grown up across the hall from each other in the same Manhattan apartment building, and also because they’re best friends. Soul mates. Or are they? Just to be safe, they’ve created a NO KISS LIST–their list of people who are absolutely off-kissing-limits for both of them. The NO KISS LIST protects their friendship and ensures that nothing will rock the foundation of Naomi and Ely: the institution.
Until Ely kisses Naomi’s boyfriend. And a fateful piece of gum in the wrong place at the wrong time changes everything.
Soon a rift of universal proportions threatens to destroy their friendship, and it remains to be seen whether Naomi and Ely can find their way toward new soul-mate prospects … and back to one another.”
Much as I liked Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, I found myself equally mesmerized by the train wreck that is Naomi and Ely’s relationship.
In Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan introduce to us a handful of really likeable characters. There’s Naomi, the self-confessed liar and a bitch who is holding on to the hope that her best friend would fall in love with her; Bruce the First who is in love with Naomi even after she breaks up with him; Bruce the Second who is as normal as can be, considering the fact that he’s in a contemporary young adult novel; and then there’s Gabriel, Kelly and the Robins who don’t really get to appear a lot but seem likeable anyways.
The only character I had a hard time connecting to was Ely. I found him selfish and shallow. And I don’t understand why two characters would actually fall in love with him. Which is a shame since I think the book would’ve been more enjoyable had Ely been worthy of Naomi and Bruce the Second’s affections.
Of course, that’s not really the point of the book. At least, I don’t think so. From my reading of it, I think that it’s about friendship–the importance and intricacies of a friendship that means more to one than the other. And I like that. Because not all contemporary young adult novels need to revolve around love.
I mean, there are love stories in this book: there are three sets of couples by the time it ends. But it happens alongside the meat of the novel, which is Naomi and Ely’s relationship–this long-standing friendship that only takes one kiss and one lie to destroy.
Except it’s not just one kiss and one lie, is it?
Naomi, in the introductory chapters, already confess to lying. Lying a lot. Especially to Ely. Which he then answers with truth: admitting that he had kissed Naomi’s boyfriend. And they’re okay after that. Which says a lot about their friendship. All the more so when it’s revealed in their respective chapters how (a) Naomi is not at all okay with it, and (b) how Ely refuses to acknowledge that it’s even a thing.
If Ely had been more guilt-ridden, I think I would’ve liked him more. But he wasn’t. And I don’t. Then again, it would be out of character for Ely to feel any remorse at what he had done. Selfish and shallow, remember?
My extreme dislike for Ely though does not, in the least, lessen my enjoyment of the book. While I found myself annoyed at how childish some of the characters are, I do realize that they are kids. In their late teenage years, yes, but kids nonetheless. They still can act like their invulnerable–like they are infinite, to borrow from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And with that perspective, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is a great cautionary tale about the fragile binds of friendship.
Especially one that isn’t so much grounded on shared experience, as it is about common interests and lies.
In the end though, Naomi and Ely do realize why they are friends and what made them friends in the first place. It’s too late to redeem Ely’s character by this time, but I thought the friendship was salvaged well.
Going over what I wrote, it may seem that I didn’t like the book; but I did. I wouldn’t have wasted so many words had I not liked it. But, as I always say, these are my opinions. Feel free to disagree with me, and we can have a discussion.