Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First Kiss

In case y'all didn't notice yesterday on Kelley's post, the YAtopians will be talking about Love & Lit over the next few days, in honor of one of my favorite holidays: Valentine's Day. (I realize this is a rather unpopular stance among smart single girls, but I make my case for the day on my personal blog today.)

It happened to me when I was eleven years old. I was sitting on the couch in the downstairs area of the house we rented on Primrose Avenue in Long Key. His name was Nick, he was a little older than me and his house was much nicer than mine. We had just finished playing a neighborhood-wide game of hide and seek, like we did pretty much almost every night. He leaned toward me and I closed my eyes, my heart beating so fast I was actually afraid he might hear it.

My first kiss.

For days afterward it defined me; it was all I could think about. From the outside looking in, there was nothing special or out-of-the-ordinary about it, but you couldn't have convinced me of that at the time.

For me, that's part of the charm of writing Young Adult literature. Instead of recounting the events that made your character who he/she is, the reader gets to experience these events first-hand. And there is nothing like a first kiss to define a person.

I don't how many of you were My So Called Life fans back in the day, but there is so much about teen fiction that show did right. This is the first time Angela and Jordan ever kissed:

But if you ask any fan of the show? They'll remember this, which is technically their second kiss:

These two scenes are incredibly similar, but manage to tell two entirely different stories in the space of three minutes.

Luc and Frannie's first kiss in Personal Demons (150 pages in!!) made my face flush with heat. Katniss's first kiss in The Hunger Games made me want to cry and scream and throw things (in a good way - if that makes sense?). The entire plot of The DUFF was set in to motion with Bianca and Wesley's first kiss. And I willed Max and Fang to kiss so hard that I thought my head might explode before it ever actually happened.

In contrast, there have been first kiss scenes that have totally killed the romance of the novel for me. I found myself rooting against the two MCs' relationship more than rooting for them to succeed. Sometimes it's due to the awkwardness the author obviously felt in writing the scene leaking through. Other times it's because of the crudeness of the narrator when he (usually a he, in this case) describes the kiss. And still other times it just doesn't feel right, though I couldn't tell you why.

In teen lit, the first kiss can make or break a story. If it doesn't resonate with the reader, there's a good chance they'll just put the book down and walk away. But if it's done right? We can fall in love with the characters just as they're falling in love with each other.

What are some of your favorite first kiss scenes in YA lit?


  1. I completely agree with you there, about the importance of first kisses in YA Literature. One of my favourite things about YA is how everything is so important and so significant emotionally. Pure awesomeness!

    As for my favourite first kisses, I just finished Rules of Attraction and their first kiss in that is pretty great. I also completely agree with you about the Hunger Games and Katniss's first kiss! I wanted to throw something too!

  2. OMG. OMG. OMG! I can't believe you posted scenes for My So Called Life. It's my all time favorite show. I bought the series in December and have watched it twice and blogged about it twice. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

    Awesome post.

  3. Okay, I know the point of this post was not My So Called life, but I have to say they got it better than any other show I've seen. It's so painfully real and honest. Its like you live inside Angela's skin while your watching. Great stuff.

  4. First kisses are indeed special, whether they turn out well or not. It's a momentous moment in life, you know? My brain is failing to recall first kiss scenes, but I do remember Jace and Clary's, and thinking it was quite something. Haha

  5. Haha, Kelley made me laugh. As soon as I saw those clips I thought, "Kelley's gonna flip." :)
    There's nothing better than a kiss that you actually feel when you're reading it - when the chemistry b/t the characters is vivid. I agree with Jenny about the importance and significance of every detail in YA. The first experiences are such a journey.

  6. LOL. Am I that obvious with my MSCL love?

  7. I just finished re-reading PARANORMALCY, so I have to say that I loved the first kiss scene there. Evie had been waiting so long, and then she just knew that Lend was going to kiss her. I love her voice; it's filled with character. Evie and Lend are two adorable characters.