KISS NUMBER 8 by Colleen AF Venable
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 13 - 18
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The discovery of long-buried family secrets brings Amanda closer to owning her own.

Amanda is the demure sidekick to the wild and sexy Cat, who knows how to have a good time but doesn’t always know how to be a great friend. Her real best friend, though, is her Catholic dad. They go to Sunday baseball games, share favorite TV shows, and trounce each other in video games. When Amanda discovers that her runaway grandmother was actually an early transgender rights activist who transitioned late in life, it brings unbearable tension into their relationship. It also makes Amanda wake up to parts of herself she’s not yet been able to acknowledge, such as how she really feels when she’s around Cat. These revelations wreak havoc on her relationships. Fortunately, Amanda, who is white, finds a new, multiracial crew from the public school. Their lack of need for labels, for the gender binary, or to overexplain themselves allows Amanda to relax into self-acceptance. It’s a story of family and friendship and love in all its forms, perfect for the graphic novel format and elevated by the combined art and narrative. For example, when Amanda’s father tells his mother’s story, his distorted recollections are laid out in juxtaposition with actual events, resulting in an achingly moving vignette. The characters shine, fully human and permitted to be flawed. Hope prevails.

A rare blend of tender and revolutionary. (Graphic novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-59643-709-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: First Second
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2019


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