Book Review: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
You know how some days you’re just kind of like, bleeeeergh, I don’t like anything, and you have a million books piled next to your bed, but none of them are speaking to you right then? And then you find the perfect book that just kind of swallows you whole and makes you forget why you were so cranky in the first place? That’s the best thing, isn’t it? For me, Amy Spalding’s Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) was that kind of book. From the super fun cover and the very first page, I knew I’d like this book. And I did—I loved it, actually.
16-year-old music-obsessed Riley and her bandmate/friend Reid decide they need to work on finding significant others after they walk in on their other two bandmates (Lucy and Nathan) hooking up. They start a notebook that they pass back and forth detailing their efforts and advice for finding true love/someone to have sex with. Riley’s crush is on Ted Callahan, but she quickly finds herself seeing (and kissing) two other boys. Reid has his eye on Jane, who works at an animal rescue operation, and goes so far as to pretend he intends to adopt a dog. After their band plays a school dance, Reid starts to get a little more interest from other girls. Meanwhile, Riley juggles her feelings for the three boys she’s been seeing, even though she pretty clearly knows who she really wants to be with. Then the unthinkable happens: they lose their notebook. Suddenly they have to contend with the idea that someone out there knows all of their confessions about their various infatuations, which forces them to tell the truth to the people they’ve been dating or wanting to date, and to deal with the consequences.
The thing I loved best about this book was how seriously funny it was. Riley is as bold as she is awkward. Her little inner voice, often speaking to the boys she likes, made me laugh. She can’t help but blurt out things that she knows are weird or embarrassing. She talks about having a second brain that takes over when she’s around boys she likes and makes her come off sounding like a babbling idiot. I also loved that Riley and Reid are best friends with zero potential for something more. They are JUST friends. And this book doesn’t take what could be a very predictable route of having them realize, over the course of writing in the notebook and seeking out dates, that they actually love each other. They don’t. As someone who has had a boy BFF since I was 12, I appreciated the hell out of this storyline. I kind of wished this was a flip book and I could have finished Riley’s story and flipped it over to start Reid’s story. We get a lot of details about his dating experiences through handwritten entries in the notebook and conversations with Riley, but I wanted to see more of what he was up to. That minor quibble aside, this was a total blast to read. I’m a character-drive reader and could have easily read another few hundred pages of Riley and Reid’s exploits. Great dialogue, fantastic characters, lots of music references, and funny to boot—what more could you want?
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 4/7/2015
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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