How do you hold on to a love that is slowly slipping away from you? Can you let go of the past when you know what is in the future? And how do you cope when you know that every kiss is a countdown to goodbye?
This is the story of a love affair, of Ryan and Molly and how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they’d be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she’s married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted…
This is the first review in a long time that I haven’t known where to begin. I finished reading The First Last Kiss on Saturday and I’m still feeling a bit dazed! I thought Ali’s debut was good but this book is on a different level and in simple terms I think it’s brilliant.
The First Last Kiss is a very hard novel to review without giving anything away so I’m not going to go into great detail on the plot aside from saying that I loved that Molly and Ryan’s story isn’t told chronologically and I really liked the way it unfolded. The story is told as a series of snapshots based around the kisses in Molly and Ryan’s relationship and is interspersed with Molly’s narrative in the present as she packs to move house. Each ‘kiss’ is beautifully written and like all the best love stories, The First Last Kiss is funny, romantic, heartbreaking and real.
The novel is narrated from Molly’s point of view and she really took me with her as a reader. She’s such a well drawn character that I felt like I actually knew her by the end of the book. Molly is a thinker and quite introverted, not to mention cynical at times. Although her actions aren’t always agreeable, her reactions, thoughts and feelings on everything that happens in her life are so well explained that I understood her even when she messed up and I loved how she changed as she grew up. Books that follow characters and a relationship over time are favourites of mine and this one really gets inside Molly and Ryan’s relationship and explores it from all angles.
Ryan is the perfect man (or pretty close); sensitive, sporty, funny, a great cook and model gorgeous, but the novel explores that sometimes even perfection isn’t enough. Like many of my favourite film, TV and literary couples (Harry and Sally, Elizabeth and Darcy or Rory and Jess) Molly and Ryan seem like opposites but are meant to be. Ali Harris neatly flips chick lit stereotypes on their heads with Ryan who loves romantic movies and boy bands whilst being the most popular boy in school!
With clever use of films, music and fashion, Ali captures time and place brilliantly and set me off reminiscing as I read. Her characters are the same age as me and although my life is very different to theirs, there was plenty to identify with. Friends and family are equally as important to the story as Molly and Ryan’s relationship with each other and I particularly identified with Molly’s relationships with Casey and Mia; again two very different characters representing different times and aspects of Molly’s life but both equally important through the ups and downs. I loved the humour that the girls brought to the story and found their individual stories just as interesting as Molly and Ryan’s.
At the end of the novel the purpose of the layout is finally revealed and is even more poignant than I originally thought. It made me want to go back and read the book again again straight away! That sounds terribly cryptic but it will all make sense when you read it. The ending wasn’t what I was expecting either and had a couple of lovely surprising twists. We’re only a couple of weeks into the year but I know I’ve already found one of my books of the year in The First Last Kiss. Molly and Ryan’s story made me laugh and cry and hug my loved ones a little bit tighter and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
The First Last Kiss is released on 17th January in paperback and ebook formats and I’d like to thank Simon and Schuster for providing me with a review copy.
Find out more about Ali Harris and her writing at: http://www.aliharris.co.uk/