When I started this book I wasn’t really sure I was liking it all that much. The beginning was kind of slow and a little whinny. I knew I was only a short bit in but instead of giving up I decided to push through and I’m happy I did. As the book progressed and I got to know the main characters I grew to like them more. I started to learn their personalities and what they were really looking for I found myself eagerly anticipating their next adventure and what might be in store for all four.
The main premise is about four best friends that sign up for a foreign exchange program and decide to kiss as many boys as they can. Piper is the mastermind behind not only pitching the exchange program as well as creating the International Kissing Club, or the IKC as they call it. She wants out of Texas and fast after a series of humiliating events happen to her. She wants to run from one Paris to another and she enlists Cassidy, Mei and Izzy to join her. Cassidy is heading to Australia, Mei to China and Izzy wants to go to Costa Rica. Sadly, unfortunate events occur and Izzy is forced to stay home, but the other girls are off for an adventure on different continents and despite being homebound Izzy is in for an adventure of her own.
What International Kissing Club did best was was giving each girl a completely distinct personality. Piper is the girl desperate to be loved and accepted; Cassidy, the girl afraid of love; Mei, the girl looking to belong; and Izzy, the girl that wants to be seen. All distinguished traits that made each independently likable and their friendship as a whole work.
All in all, I loved reading about each girl’s ten week experience but (as one would expect) I enjoyed some more then others.
I had my ups and downs with my feelings for Piper. I liked her a lot when she was in Paris, Texas. I could understand her and the fact that she was tired of being tortured and treated poorly by her mother. It helped me understand why she wanted to go to Paris, France. She was an artist and wanted to emerge herself in the culture. She needed to be on her own and spread her wings without being under the watchful eyes of her super critical mother and archenemy. Truth be told, I actually liked her when she was in Paris, France too. She was more free then she had ever been before; able to do the things she wanted without a watchful eye or feeling disdain.
I quite enjoyed her with Sebastian, the boy in Paris she unexpectedly fell for. She knew she was risking a broken heart and pain, but she was willing to take the chance. What I didn’t like about her was her selfishness. Everything was always about Piper without her ever opening her eyes and seeing other people were having problems too. She wasn’t the only one having a hard time or experiencing confusion. Everything was about Piper and she never gave a thought to her other friends and their struggles. Sure she had real problems, but if she just looked around and opened her eyes I think I could have liked her more then I did.
Mei was my least favorite by far. I could see where she was coming from. Adopted by her parents when she was 2 she was the only Chinese person in her small town and felt something missing. Wanting to know more about her roots she decided to go to China. Definitely reasonable, and not the crux of my problem with Mei. What I struggled with most was that she was a control freak and somewhat judgmental. She very rarely lived in the moment and I thought she looked down on her friends when they did. She wanted to belong, but she didn’t want to stand out.
Mei was at her best when she was with Guiran, the boy she met in China. He pulled her out of her comfort zone and made her try things and figure out that she already belonged, just not where she thought. She had a place and her place was better then some made up idea in her head.
Izzy was a tough one. She was the one that was left behind while her friends went on exotic trips. She had to deal with her same old family life – being invisible to her parents, tormented by her older brother and having no friends at school. She was lonely. Her ex-boyfriend used her and she was heartbroken. Because of this she made some terrible choices, but she also learned how to stand on her own two feet and not always be in the back ground. She made herself stand out more, which she quickly learned wasn’t always for the best. When more visible a person puts themselves out there and open themselves to being hurt regardless of circumstance. I guess in the long run I did like her just not some of the choices she made.
Cassidy was by far my favorite. She had been the outsider her whole life. Her mom got pregnant with her at a young age and her father was a nonentity. She was the poor kid with the single mom. But unlike Piper, Cassidy didn’t whine and complain, she stood up for herself. She didn’t take crap from anyone. But that didn’t mean she didn’t want to get away from it all. She was tired of the ridicule and the looks. She just wanted to be Cassidy. So she picked Australia because it was the farthest away. And honestly it was the best decision she could have made. All her life her mom had told her men were no good and couldn’t be trusted. She was basically terrified of love and wanted no part of it because she couldn’t trust it. Well Lucas, adorable Australian Lucas, made all of that change. Cassidy was finally able to be herself with him. Watching her slowly change from closed off to a girl falling in love endeared her to me and I found myself wanting more of her story the most.
In conclusion, although this book was a bit long and wordy at times it really was a cute read. I mean really how can you go wrong with four best friends that are dying to get out of their small town of Paris, Texas and find something different, find something that seemed to be missing from their lives? Each girl picks a location and for 10 weeks they have the experience of a lifetime. As in real life some experiences are good and some are bad and some are just plain confusing. I must admit that I was reminded of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the movie Now and Then at times, but this book also had its own identity. Ivy Adams wrote the trials and tribulations of friendship and growing up really well. A fun, cute read for sure.