"Kiss Me in New York" by Catherine Rider
Because October isn’t too early to start celebrating Christmas, we plucked another holiday-themed book from our to-read pile this week.
This one, Kiss Me in New York, was a fluffy and fun YA novel attributed to Catherine Rider (you’ll see why I’m saying attributed to instead of by in a bit here).
The premise of this book is pretty simple – although not entirely believable.
Two teens, Charlotte and Anthony, meet at an NYC airport on Christmas Eve.
Charlotte, an exchange student from England, is heading home for the winter holiday (why she’s waited until Christmas Eve to travel, couldn’t tell you. You’re gonna have to suspend disbelief for pretty much the entirety of this book). She’s a bit down in the dumps because she was recently dumped by her boyfriend. Now she’s questioning her prior plans to return to NYC for college (because there is no reason to go to a prestigious college if you have to be single while doing so, apparently).
The other half of our duo, Anthony is at the airport to meet his girlfriend, Maya, who’s returning from college to celebrate Christmas with her family (again, why this is happening on Christmas Eve… but, whatever). Anthony’s excited to spend the holidays with Maya, but she doesn’t reciprocate. Instead, she dumps him for another man. At the airport. With her new boyfriend standing right there.
Charlotte’s flight gets delayed (naturally, it’s Christmas-fucking-Eve) and, in classic rom-com, meet-cute fashion, she meets Anthony and the two end up gallivanting around NYC, following steps in a self-help book that promises to assist them in getting over their exs.
The story is laid out for the reader in chapters that alternate in perspective, some from Charolette’s point of view, and others from Anthony’s – which, TBH, is a pretty common narrative technique now-a-days. One that I generally enjoy.
So, aside from the aforementioned questionably realistic points, there are a few other things that I found even harder to believe.
These ones *contain spoilers* so don’t read on if you don’t want to see ‘em.
1) Anthony’s girlfriend dumped him on Christmas Eve. But, as we come to find, this isn’t just any Christmas Eve. It’s the eve of the one year anniversary of Anthony’s mother’s death. I mean, here’s the thing… I don’t care how heinous a bitch someone is, I find it very difficult to believe that a girl would break up with a boy on the day before the one-year anniversary of his mother’s Christmas death.
2) After trekking all over the city, the pair finally decide to go to Anthony’s house – and arrive there at midnight. When they get there, they find his family sitting around the dining table with food (albeit cold food, but food none the less) still laid out. Um… Why are they still at the table? I could believe them all being in the family room, playing drunken Scrabble and arguing about whether kerfuffle is a word, but not still around the table.
3) As the plot progresses and our characters realize what we all realized from page 3 – that this is a fucking romance – they start to drop the L-bomb. But, here’s the thing. They’ve known each other for like 8 whole hours. Love? Mkay, kiddo.
All the requisite suspension of disbelief aside, the book grew on me.
At the start, I wasn’t that invested in Charlotte or Anthony, but the more I learned about them the more they started to seem like real people and the more I actually cared.
Though, I must say, I had a strong preference for the chapters written from Anthony’s perspective. The voice in these chapters just felt more – colorful. The thoughts and emotions expressed seemed more realistic.
It wasn’t until I came to the end of the book and was reading the concluding material that I discovered that this book was actually co-written (Catherine Rider is the pen name of Stephanie Elliott and James Noble). This leads me to assume – again, it’s just an assumption – that, in the grand tradition of David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, all of the chapters from Catherine’s POV were written by one of these co-authors, and all of the ones written from Anthony’s POV were written by the other.
This, of course, explains this stark contrast in style and…honestly…quality.
All factors being considered, I felt that this was a reasonably strong holiday romance. While there wasn’t anything particularly profound about this book, by the end it had put me in the holiday spirit and it did elicit some emotional attachment to the characters.
For people looking to pluck a simple, light holiday read from the YA section, this one will certainly get the job done. I give it 3 out of 5 cocktails.
How do you feel about co-written books? Let me know in the comments, below.
Now it’s time for something a bit heavier. Want to see what it is? Check it out, here.