‘Lips Touch’ by young adult author Laini Taylor tells the story of three very different kisses.
One girl’s first kiss might be deadly. A young woman who was cursed at birth could kill the boy she loves and all those within earshot if she were to ever speak to him. And a young girl who has always led a transient life with her mother discovers the horrifying details of her conception—and why she has distant memories of a kiss from long ago, though she herself has never been kissed.
“Lips Touch,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, is elegantly written, but the first story is also laugh-out-loud funny in parts, such as when the main character, Kizzy, and her two friends at school—social outcasts on the high school scene—encounter a mysterious new boy who lights their world on fire: “‘Be praised, O lords of boy flesh. We thank thee for thy bounty,’ whispered [Kizzy’s friend] Cactus.'”
It is also hauntingly inventive. The second story, “Spicy Little Curses Such As These,” tells of a girl who grows up mute because she fears the curse an old woman put upon her at birth—“From this moment forward, any sound this child utters will kill”—might actually be true, is one that readers will have a difficult time putting down. And the third, “Hatchling,” captures the horror of a woman who escaped a world where creatures kept young girls as pets—only to find, years later, that her teenage daughter carries one of those creatures deep within her.
Kisses with Consequences
“Lips Touch” captures what it’s like to want a first kiss so badly, the yearning “leaves a palpable trail,” as it does in Taylor’s short story “Goblin Fruit.”
“Sometimes Kizzy imagined her grandmother knife-fighting her way down the long tunnel of death, but mostly her daydreams were of a very different nature,” Taylor writes in “Goblin Fruit.” “She daydreamed of slow-dancing with Mick Crespain and of sitting on his lap at lunch while he hugged her around the waist instead of Sarah Ferris, his knuckles resting lightly against the underside of her breasts instead of Sarah’s. She daydreamed about having slim ankles like Jenny Glass instead of peasant ankles like the fetlocks of a draft horse. About smooth hair instead of coarse hair, sleek hips instead of belly dancer’s hips. About a tinkling laugh, and a butterfly tattoo, and a boy who would tuck his hand into her back jeans pocket while they walked, and press her up against a fence to suck her lower lip like a globe of fruit.”
Find It Locally
“Lips Touch” can be found across Chicagoland at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville and Downers Grove, The Book Cellar in Chicago, The Book Stall in Winnetka and Barbara’s Bookstore in Chicago.
Learn more about Taylor on her website and follow her on Twitter.