Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Published by Knopf Books
Rating: 3.5/5 Cover 5/5
NAOMI AND ELY ARE BEST FRIENDS. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their "No Kiss List" of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine - until Bruce. Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But Ely kissed Bruce even though he is boring. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of "Naomi and Ely: the institution." Can these best friends come back together again?
I recently decided to read the works of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and read them out of order of their publishing dates. Oops. I read Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List last and compared to Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, liked it the least.
One thing I totally loved about this book was the overall theme presented. Unlike Cohn and Levithan’s other works, this story is based on a friendship rather than a romantic pair and that created a much different dynamic.
You know that best friend you’ve had your whole life or close to it and sometimes you love them as much as you hate them? This perfectly recreated the feeling of that. The ebb and flow and more importantly the tiny, almost-insignificant actions that can completely disrupt a long and secure friendship. In that light, Cohn and Levithan created an old married couple rather than a young and fresh relationship that is so popular to most YA. Relationships aren’t easy, what makes anyone think friendships are?
This book does a fantastic job of describing the fluidity of sexuality. Rarely is someone completely black and white with their sexual orientation. Throw a long and deep friendship into the mix and you have the perfect recipe for disaster and broken hearts. In one corner you have Ely who is comfortable being gay, then there is Naomi who is straight, but loves very-gay Ely and finally, Bruce the Second who finds himself attractive to Ely even while dating Naomi. Most common situations are covered with those three. And the book works at making the awkwardness of teen sexuality as humorous as possible.
There’s a little detail that affected the story here and there, but I LOVED the fact the main character’s were aged 19 to 20. I think this might actually be my first YA book with a focus on the Not Really Teens, But Not Really Adults tiny age group. So it focused on The Next Big Step in YAs; the mess of college.
However, I didn’t like the execution of the story. First of all, we bounced back and forth between the POVs of Naomi, Ely, Bruce the First, Bruce the Second, Gabriel, and girl and boy Robins. Far too much. Especially because I only ever got a feel for three out of seven of those characters. Points of views are supposed to enhance the story not only did it not, but it was confusing and at times, boring. It also seemed too picturesque for Naomi and Ely to have their moments of revelations at the same time. From my friend drama experience, they rarely do, if ever. But, it made a good ending, right?
Overall, it was a bittersweet story of a deep friendship and the pain and compromise it takes sometimes to keep it that way. If you want to read a story with gay main characters or want to read a book about a friendship, definitely read this! For me, it was worth it and I don’t regret spending a day in the world of Naomi and Ely.