Book Review: Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen
Review of Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen
Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars
my rating: cute
Don’t let the cover fool you, this is pure YA although this book would appeal to the younger side of the genre more. The book centers around fourteen-year-old Mattie who has to spend most of her summer vacation babysitting her four-year-old brother, Donny. Who thinks he is a dog. Mattie finds him intolerable and he’s ruining her life. She’s not very nice to him as it’s appointed out by her best friend, Livvy. But Mattie has other things on her mind besides taking Donny for a walk on a leash.
She has crush on Livvy’s older brother, Nate, who acts like they are a nuisance. It doesn’t help that Livvy is throwing herself at Nate’s friend, Chris. Which is just embarrassing. Livvy takes a liking to Donny as she knows what it’s like to be the discarded younger sibling. Meanwhile, Nate actually asks Mattie out causing a riff between the two best friends.
This book is really short so great for the younger end of the YA age group. I thought the book was cute although Mattie’s treatment of Donny sometimes went over the edge. But having a thirteen-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son I see how they sometimes fight. If it weren’t for my other three kids coming in between the two of them I’m sure there would be even more animosity. Despite that I found it made Mattie more real because siblings fight.
The little romance that develops between Mattie and Nate is cute. I loved that she stood up to him about his treatment of his sister even if it risked her relationship with the guy she’s been crushing on for years. But she doesn’t relate that to her own treatment of her brother until he falls seriously ill.
There’s not a lot of depth here. Donny’s scenes are alternately funny (as he acts like a dog) and annoying ( as he talks like a two-year-old). The author has kids and grandkids so I’m not sure why she picked Donny’s voice the way she did. With five kids only one spoke that way at four and she was speech delayed. My other kids might have mispronounced a few words here and there but otherwise spoke clearly and with complete sentences. As I was reading I kept thinking my three-year-ole spoke better than Donny. The relationship between Mattie and Nate is chaste and sweet as they fumble to figure things out like any young teens (their first date reminds me a lot of my dates at thirteen—where we were forced to take our younger brothers no less).
All-in-all a cute little story that touches on a lot of feelings that young teens go through. I recommend this to young girls in the twelve to fourteen age range.