Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole

Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole 
Series: Standalone
Published: May 15th, 2012
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
240 pages (ebook)
Genre: Contemporary upper YA/NA (LGBT)
Acquired this book: Bought
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Book Depository || Chapters/Indigo}

The summer after high-school graduation, a year after her mother’s tragic death, Anna has no plans – beyond her need to put a lot of miles between herself and the past. With forever friend Kat, a battered copy of Kerouac’s DHARMA BUMS, and a car with a dodgy oil filter, the girls set out on an epic road trip across the USA. Maybe somewhere along the way they’ll prove or disprove the existence of God. Maybe they’ll even get laid . . .

It’s a journey both outward and inward. Through the Badlands and encounters with predatory men and buffalo. A crazy bus ride to Mexico with a bunch of hymn-singing missionaries. Facing death, naked in the forest with an enraged grizzly bear . . . Gradually, Anna realizes that this is a voyage of discovery into her own self, her own silent pain – and into the tangled history that she and Kat share. What is love? What is sexual identity? And how do you find a way forward into a new future – a way to declare openly and without fear all that lies within you?

I’d been wanting to read Kiss the Morning Star ever since I saw the cover almost two years ago. This book was and wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting an epic road trip (which I got), hints - or maybe more than hints - at a romance between Anna and Kat (which I got), and lots of self-discovery (which I got). Despite the ‘…prove or disprove the existence of God’ part in the synopsis, it never occurred to me this book would have religious themes, but it did. Normally I give those books a wide berth (with exceptions here and there), so when the girls kept talking about God and religion, I was a bit wary. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise when it turned out the talk about religion was one of my favourite aspects of the book.

Anna’s dad is a minister, so she grew up in the church. Faith was always a huge part of her life. When her mom dies in a horrible accident, Anna and her dad fall apart. They lose their way, and Anna begins to doubt her beliefs. When her best friend Kat asks her to go on a cross-country road trip, she hesitantly agrees, hoping the distance will make things better and put things into perspective.

I love road trip books. The actual journey is always fun - getting to ‘see’ places you’ve never been (or maybe have, which is exciting too), and meet interesting people along the way who help the characters on their journey. But the emotional journey is just as important, if not more important. I thought Hoole did a fantastic job of tying both together in a way that was both fun and poignant. This book was different from a lot of other road trip books in that the girls weren’t taking a journey ‘from somewhere to somewhere else’ - they didn’t have a specific destination in mind, they were just going until they found what they were looking for.

Anna was an interesting character. She was resistant to the idea of ‘finding God’, despite her former life where religion played a huge role. Kat was raised by Atheists, but was open to the idea of finding God. As I said before, even though I tend to avoid books with religious themes, I really liked the girls’ journey to find God. It was as much about finding inner peace, self-acceptance, happiness, and embracing their differences.

I liked that Hoole wasn’t afraid to be bold and push boundaries with this book. It explored sexuality, drug use, religion, grief, and love in its many forms. It wasn’t always comfortable and it wasn’t always easy to read, but I liked that. Grief is a messy thing, and everyone deals with it differently; I thought Anna’s grief was very realistic - the anger, the doubt, the guilt. She numbed herself to so many things and forgot how to really live. The road trip - and Kat - saved her in so many ways, and it was beautiful. 

Kiss the Morning Star is a book that quietly wormed its way into my heart. I wasn’t entirely sure about it at first, but I quickly came to love Anna and Kat, and I felt like I was right there with them on their emotional, spiritual, and physical journey. With some fairly heavy subject matter, this book won’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy beautifully written coming-of-age stories that explore life and love, and are full of humour and emotion, I highly recommend Kiss the Morning Star.
Have you read Kiss the Morning Star? What did you think? If you haven't read it, is it on your TBR? What are some of your favourite road trip books? How about LGBT books?


  1. Nice review Marie, I love the cover and the premise sounds good plus I love that you're hawking a novel that's been out a while sometimes we forget that there's more out there than new releases

  2. I 100% agree with this review! I found this book to be so powerful and bold. And you're totally right about the way religion is approached - it's not about God exactly. It;s about what faith (any kind of faith) can do for you.

  3. Hm, I'm not a fan of religious themes, but I do love road trips, and this whole book really sounds like my kind of read. I think I'll have to add this to my tbr :) Great review!


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