In one of my first semester subjects, we were taught how to write a book review. I realise this might sound ridiculous but, in all honesty, the art of critical writing is a tough skill to master. I am yet to master it myself! Perhaps the most important tip we were taught is to review a book for what it was, not what you wish it had been. I could be harsh about Zoë Foster’s (now Zoë Foster-Blake, I should add) debut novel, Air Kisses. It’s not a literary masterpiece, but it was never trying to be. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me smile and laugh out loud, and if you are looking for a funny and charming book, this could very well be it.
No one is more surprised than Hannah Atkins when she lands the job as beauty editor at Gloss magazine. She’s the girl more likely to be known for unblended foundation and wonky eyeliner than the flawless perfection one would usually associate with a beauty editor. Lucky she still has her hot tv presenter boyfriend to help her navigate this mad, shiny new world, right? Wrong. Hannah painfully learns of her boyfriend’s infidelity via the pages of a gossip magazine, and falls headfirst into a post-breakup meltdown. It’s messy and sad, but you know what? We’ve all been there.
As Hannah begins to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart, she throws her newly-single self into her work. Along the way, she discovers that writing great articles that please her superiors isn’t the same as drinks and dinner with a sexy guy, but it does put a pretty nifty spring in her step. She discovers the bitchy side of the beauty world, she snags an obligatory fabulous gay friend, and she kisses her fair share of frogs. Of course, true love is hiding a) in places the protagonist least expects to find it, and b) in plain sight. It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out who Hannah will end up with, but for me that wasn’t the point. Air Kisses is about recreating yourself, even if only at first with expensive beauty products. In fact, each chapter starts with a beauty tip–from keeping your skin hydrated on a long flight to looking perky the morning after two drinks too many, Foster-Blake treats us with some pearls of beauty wisdom from her Cosmopolitan years.
Considering the subject matter, this book did make me
freak out think a lot about modern dating. Having recently re-entered Single Town, I’m kind of terrified about the uphill battle ahead of me. It seems like, on a weekly basis, Facebook friends are announcing engagements and *gulp* pregnancies. I have well and truly hit my mid-20s and, despite having three one-to-two-year-long relationships under my belt, I have (overall) been more focussed on my career than my love life. I’m not complaining–I’m working in the industry of my dreams, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. But. I would be lying if I said I am not becoming increasingly concerned about my ability to pick the right ‘sort’ of guy from a clearly decreasing pool of potential matches. Air Kisses reminded me to kindly STFU.
I am fabulous. And so are you. And so is every single single lady, no matter whether they are 18 or 48. There will always be time. There will always be potential matches.
Some Most of them will be Very Bad Ideas. But, good or bad, every bit of life experience helps us get closer to discovering what it is we do and do not want. In Air Kisses, Hannah is confronted with the best and worst of modern life: a great job, a cheating partner, a fantastic BFF, a sensational date, a horrendous hangover, and all the ups and down in between. It ain’t highbrow stuff, but it’s realistic and relatable–Hannah’s insecurities and triumphs, and her successes and failures are all refreshingly honest.
I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating at all by saying that most readers will see certain parts of themselves in Hannah. I sure did.