Kissing in America Map & Contest!

Harper Audio has put together this amazing site–if you scroll down, you can click on the map and hear audio clips from every city that Eva and Annie visit. Then enter the contest to win prizes from all the cities in the book! You can win Skullcandy headphones (for the long bus rides in your future), cactus socks, a cowgirl locket, a signed hardcover and an audiobook, a travel journal, an I love NY mug, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame memento, a movie clapper board, and last–but by no means least–an Elvis parking sign. Do readers of Jonathan Franzen’s books get the chance to win an Elvis parking sign? I think not.

Good luck–you can enter until June 6th–and I hope whoever wins will send me a picture of their feet in the cactus socks!


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Mother’s Day Essay, and an Audio Excerpt

I have an essay in Salon about Mother’s Day today—my 24th Mother’s Day since my mom died. Here we are at Jones Beach many years ago:


I’m also excited to share that I have the first audio excerpt of Kissing in America! The whole audiobook will be available from Audible on May 26th:

A Lifeline in Reading, and My First Real Copy

Sometimes a review comes in that makes the approximately 4 million years that you spent writing a book feel worth it. Here is an excerpt:

“Kissing in America is about love and grief and friendship; about mothers and daughters, about blood relatives and kindred spirits; about the journey from childhood to adulthood, girlhood to womanhood. It’s about the different paths people take to America, and how those disparate paths and histories affect their children. It’s about fantasy and real life, and how you can embrace both; about feminism and romance, and how you can embrace both; about living in books and living in the world, and how you can embrace both. It’s about going somewhere for someone, versus going somewhere for yourself; looking forward to beginning Real Life, versus beginning Real Life right now, at this very moment.The poetry Eva reads and Rabb quotes is impeccably picked—it’s predominantly by female poets, and it enhances and supports the story without overwhelming it, it highlights the timeless aspects of Eva’s journey and awakening without being too on-the-nose. The characters are three-dimensional—none of them are perfect, and none of them are evil—and their relationships are real and complicated and true. It’s beautifully written, smart and warm and sensitive—I dog-eared so many pages, marked so many phrases and passages that I loved for their rhythm or humor or vision or grace, that my dog-ears and markings became useless. It made me laugh until I choked, and it made me cry at the circulation desk—it’s a book that made my heart feel full.

I loved everything—EVERYTHING—about it, about Eva and her story and THE UTTER JOY of her habit of fantasizing about her life.” –Leila Roy

The full review is here.

I also just received a copy of the final hardcover book! I burst into tears when it arrived, thinking of those 4 million years of writing and 1 billion drafts that it took to finish it, and the many times I thought it would never see the light of day. I can’t believe it’s REAL. I love the embossing on the cover–that was a complete surprise!

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Three starred reviews, and a BookPeople contest

Calling all writers in need of some manuscript advice! BookPeople in Austin, TX is offering signed pre-orders of Kissing in America, and everyone who pre-orders will be entered into a raffle to win a free half-hour manuscript consultation for yourself or a friend, for up to 20 pages of fiction or nonfiction. I can’t wait to read the work of the winner! You can pre-order a copy and enter the contest here. I love BookPeople–I actually wrote parts of Kissing in America in their cafe, in little Japanese notebooks I purchased in their store:


In review news, I’m thrilled that Kissing in America has its third starred review, from Publishers Weekly:

★”In this indelible coming-of-age story, Rabb seamlessly weaves together multiple narratives: families coping with death, immigrants determined to make it in America, the power of education to transform lives, reality TV offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, first love, first heartbreak, and the conflicted, ardent passion of a mother/daughter relationship. After Eva’s father dies in a plane crash, she lives with an awareness that ‘the very worst thing you imagine, your biggest fear, does happen,’ a fear she mitigates by avidly reading romance fiction. Eva’s mother, a women’s studies professor, disparages the books, but for 16-year-old Eva, ‘those feelings felt as real and true as any other feelings I’d ever felt. As real and true as grief.’ A cross-country bus trip expands Eva’s world as she and her best friend Annie encounter people who ‘never met a Jewish person before’ and discover that ‘real-life cowboys were better than fictional ones.’ Sprinkled with the poetry Eva reads and writes, this story makes for a hilarious, thought-provoking, wrenching, and joyful quest.”

Starred Booklist review and Goodreads giveaway

I’m excited to share that Kissing in America has its second starred review, from Booklist! Here’s an excerpt–the full review will be posted April 1st:

★ “[A] rollicking, eye-opening cross-country bus adventure. This is a smart teen’s novel…all Rabb’s characters are authentic and complex, including the adults who are trying desperately to do the right thing for themselves and the young people around them. Rabb knows the perfect point to interject humor to diffuse a potentially devastating situation—and there are many!—a leavening of sorts to the reality that death and love inexplicitly alter the landscape of a person’s life.” — Frances Bradburn, Booklist 


Also Goodreads is giving away 5 advance copies–you can enter here. 


All winners also receive a free box of kittens.