Sometimes, a girl just wants to put on cherry flavored lip gloss, a pair of cute pajamas, some glitter on her face, and Cyndi Lauper on the stereo. It’s a fact of life. Those are the moments when we read our favorite Ron/Hermione scenes, reread One Day (and promptly curse ourselves for doing so) or throw on a Disney movie. Or, when trapped on a plane for 14 hours, we pull out our kindle and find a young adult romance.
The back cover reads:Lip gloss addict Emerson Taylor and her best friend, Trina, have declared this year the Year of the Boy and vowed to find boyfriends. But for Emerson, there’s just one problem: she can read the mind of anyone whose lips touch hers. It’s totally creepy—and at first it seems like a curse. But Emerson soon realizes there are perks to her strange talent—like the ability to steal secrets, memories, and most importantly, test answers. If Emerson doesn’t bring up her grades soon, her days at her private school will be numbered. But kissing for grades is stickier than lip gloss, and Emerson’s about to learn some lessons not found in her textbooks—lessons about true love, and real beauty. Oh, why can’t life be as simple as choosing the perfect shade of lip gloss?
There’s more to it, of course: Emerson and her older sister live with their aunt, because their mother took off on them when they were younger. Their aunt is a make-up sales representative, thus furnishing the girls with their beloved cosmetics. It’s wonderfully funny, as Emerson tries to apply make-up strategies to her daily teenage struggles. Perhaps the most pleasant part about the tie-in to make-up? It isn’t vilified, as in most teenage novels. Instead, it’s extolled as a way to make a girl feel beautiful — but noting that she should also feel beautiful without it. There’s nothing wrong with looking your best — but nothing wrong with looking normal, either.
There’s a plethora of clever supporting characters. The smart boys at school, known as the “Ivies” some who are the kind of icky gross nerds that we all remember from high school (don’t deny it — there was always that one kid who chewed on his hair, or never showered, or smelled like formaldyhyde). There’s the band geek who secretly transforms into a rock star at night. The mean girl who is stupid as a rock but oh so easy to hate.
It’s a fun romp, and a pleasantly innocent one. The characters never progress beyond mere kissing, and the themes are appropriate for a sixth grader. It’s not a young adult book that will ever become canon, or a part of assigned reading — but it’s eminently readable, charming in its own right, and the perfect way to relax from the unmitigated disaster that is airline travel.