Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable

Kiss Number 8

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable (Author) Ellen T. Crenshaw (Illustrator)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: This work is a Graphic Novel

This was an emotional roller coaster and a fantastic coming of age story. Mads is a girl navigating life and trying to discover herself when the world is telling her how she is supposed to be. This story was sadly depressing nearly the whole way through, but not in an overly dramatic way. I enjoyed the characters, even the ones you are supposed to dislike. I can genuinely say I did not know if there was going to be a happy ending or not and I really liked that. It wasn’t predictable or cliche.

Full Review with Spoilers

This comic had me on edge the entire time. As stated above, I really had no idea where it was going at all. I kept expecting one thing, usually a happy moment or character growth, then BAM! There was more sadness. Characters would go in a negative direction with their reactions when you hoped they wouldn’t.

Main character Mads is like any typical young girl. She is growing up in a world that has expectations and she only knows the life she is supposed to live. Mads, however, is harboring a crush on her best friend Cat. It’s something she never plans to tell her or act on. Cat is a bit of the trouble maker girl that Mads just shouldn’t be around. She gets Mads sneaking out, drinking and hooks up with guys left and right because she enjoys the attention. At home, Mads struggles with her relationship with her mother and there is a lot of mystery surrounding her father’s side of the family.

When the story starts though, Mads is very much a daddy’s girl, but a call that sounds a lot like her father meeting up for an affair sets everything in motion. She’s hurt and wants to know the truth. Mad has to navigate a very scary and very real world she had been shielded from all her life. It was heartbreaking to see the sorts of injustices Mads starts to realize are all around her. She struggles with learning that her father’s mother was actually a transgender man and his existence, along with his devoted wife, Dina, was scrubbed from her life. Everything spirals out of control from there. Mads’s father reacts exactly as you would expect someone who has chosen to forget that part of his life would, with anger and denial. She begins to really question herself after this and as it usually happens, this doesn’t stay secret for long. She gets alienated from her friends, including Cat, who now wants pretty much nothing to do with her. She ruins the rest of her friendships by sleeping with a boy that has liked her for a while to try to prove to herself she’s normal, then turning around and kissing his sister and calling her by Cat’s name. Mads is in a whole mess of confusing. As everything kept getting worse I just kept wondering if it would get better.

When Mads moves to a public school from the Catholic one she was in she starts to finally see how diverse the world really is and sees she’s not alone and does actually fit in. She continues digging into her past, finally getting her father to come around with a lot of effort and discovers that sexuality can be a spectrum. I was so relieved to see things finally getting positive for her. I was worried the story would continue to just through every bad thing it could at her. I understand how realistic this actually can be for some, but I really wanted her to have a happy ending. Thankfully, by the end we see she’s figured out her life and is very happy.

I really enjoyed this story. It was raw and emotional. The heartbreak was hard to handle a times, but well worth muscling through to get to the happy ending. The art was also very well done. It was a style I don’t get exposed to a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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