Connected autobiographical essays woven around the theme of kissing.
Sternbach (Now Breathe: A Very Personal Journey Through Breast Cancer, 1999), the editor in chief of the literary journal Memoir (and), is an impressive stylist and a candid guide through her life. Although the reality of kissing serves as the connecting thread, each essay is grounded in one of a wide variety of complementary topics, such as the first love as an adolescent, best friends, parents, sisters, birthdays, tennis, summer camp, air travel, marriage, divorce, cancer, rape and death—among others. Sternbach has carefully considered how to make a life story interesting through unusual yet approachable formatting, and she throws humor, sarcasm and self-deprecation into the mix. Characters from the author's life appear, disappear and then reappear unexpectedly in different essays. One of those characters is a sixth-grade boy worshipped by the author as a fifth grader. She hears a rumor from reliable sources that the boy plans to kiss her on a certain day, but, due to unexpected circumstances, the kiss never takes place. Sternbach remembers the boy sporadically through the decades. When he re-enters her life, never having kissed her, it is because of his premature death. The author’s younger twin sisters also figure prominently in the book—they “have always been a source of great material even when they didn't know it.” Sternbach mostly avoids discussion of her two failed marriages, but her third (and current) husband plays a major role, especially in an essay about how they met and fell in love. The birth of their daughter provides an occasion for multiple kisses, not to mention an unforgettable hospital-birthing essay.
A memorable, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud essay collection for both genders and all ages.