This successful debut delivers chick-lit fun and a bit of depth, all served up with a dash of ESP.
Fourteen-year-old Emerson cares about two things: cosmetics, especially lip gloss, and finding a suitable boyfriend. She always struggled with school, but now she’s close to failing. Her aunt, struggling financially, threatens to pull her out of her high-priced private school if her grades don’t improve. But Emerson has a strange ability: She can read minds when she kisses someone, so the panic-stricken teen decides to use it to her academic advantage. Kissing one of the school’s math geeks zooms mathematics into her head, and she aces her next test. She devises a plan to kiss all the nerdy boys and thereby fill in her academic needs, but she winds up falling for one of them. Trouble ensues when he discovers her kissing promiscuity, and Emerson finally realizes she’s done wrong. Anderson writes with a light touch but fleshes out her characters nicely. She keeps her focus on Emerson’s guilt about using the boys and gives her a difficult family history—her mother committed suicide—investing her story with some emotional intensity. Although the book easily can appeal to the chick-lit audience with its constant search for those elusive boyfriends, some school rivalries and, especially, the overarching importance of cosmetics in life, those looking for more won’t go away unsatisfied.
Fun, funny and thoughtful. (Paranormal chick-lit. 12 & up)