Book #3: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic… 

I didn’t know about this book until some internet friends in a Facebook Group I’m in called The Booket List mentioned there was an Audible sale on it. To expand on that, the FB group is called The Booket List. It has a reading challenge that involves a 100+ reading list that you have to read throughout the year. The Kiss Quotient happens to be on that list and with the Audible sale, I went ahead and got it.

I’ll admit that, for once, I didn’t read the blurb before getting the book. This is something I never do. I read blurbs. I even read the last few pages of a book before I finish it. Hell, sometimes before I even start the book. That said, once I did read the blurb (after I actually started listening to the audio, mind you), I knew this book was going to mean something to me.

I am not in the Autistic spectrum. At least, I don’t think I am. I’m not sure. I was never tested for it and if I was today, it wouldn’t change anything. That said, I do have family in the spectrum. Listening to this book made me think about how my family members also think and what they go through with. It was comforting to see someone who is always so stressed out, likes a system, and can be overstimulated as the main character in the book.

I felt a kinship with Stella. I understood her. I’ve had the same thoughts as her whether it was how to deal with people, being obsessive about something, or even the almost crippling effect your lack of self-confidence (and the reactions of people around you) can be with even the people who are closest to you.

I don’t usually cry in books. I don’t usually have an emotional response of any kind. I read books and I find myself dissecting them or analyzing them to see what makes a text work or not. And though I didn’t cry with The Kiss Quotient, I did clap. I screamed in praise of the minor characters. I snapped at Michael, the book’s second main character. I found myself choosing to say that this book is more than a 4.

The Kiss Quotient is more than just Stella with her Autism. In fact, that is just a detail about the character that isn’t expressed like an important aspect. I think the best way to explain it is with Michael’s attention of her or even her own realization about herself in the end. This is a romance book that has a character with Autism. This is not an Autistic story with romance.

For anyone who might say this is a poor representation of a “disorder”, I disagree. On both points.

As a sister of an Autistic person, I wasn’t raised to see Autism as a disorder and I refuse to call it that. In fact, I only use that word when I am talking to others because others aren’t able to understand that Autism is just a way that others are wired to think. People with Autism are passionate, you just need to have the patience to learn what their passion is. They are honest, you just need to learn to stop deceiving. They like peaceful days, you just need to learn to stop being so loud and fast. So, no, Autism isn’t a disorder.

As for a poor representation of Autism, again, I disagree. This is a great representation. Autism is a spectrum. No two people are exactly the same. Not even identical twins are completely identical. By saying this book doesn’t represent the spectrum, you are placing a value on one end of the spectrum versus the other.

Now that I’m done with that soapbox, I truly am sorry for that by the way, I want to get to the real meat of the story: the romance.

This book has your typical romance tropes of misunderstanding and lack of communication. But one great difference that this book has from other romances is the way the relationship evolves.

Most romance books have the “will they/won’t they” aspect. This book did away with that and played with the idea of “will they stay or will they break up”.  It felt like a book that stressed the relationship and not the budding of a relationship. I liked that. It felt different from other contemporary romances I’ve read and I really appreciated that.

That said, I can’t help but feel it should really be a movie. Maybe that’s just my little reading/movie adaptation nerdy self, but I really would like to see this in theater. I feel this book would give my mom the feels too. It didn’t have the same issues of a romance book and it felt real.

I highly recommend reading this book if you were thinking about it.

Final Rating: 5/5

*** For those interested in what the full list is for Booket List: check out the group HERE***

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