I love a good road trip book. KISS THE MORNING STAR, a debut novel from Elissa Janine Hoole is just that — a road trip book, heavily influenced by Jack Kerouac. Hoole‘s characters are taking a tip from DHARMA BUMS and heading on a “last hoorahs” trip the summer after college. The girls, Anna and Katy, are best friends, have known each other their whole lives — and yet, something’s off. Anna knows why — the loss of her mother has left her guarded, quiet, scared. And Katy probably knows why, too. She’s tired of treating Anna with kid gloves, she’s tired of waiting for her friend to come back.
As the two girls bicker on the road, across state lines, running into creepy pastors, thieving small town mean girls, tattoo artists, hippies, and bears, they’re learning each other’s secrets. There’s Katy’s gun for one thing. And Anna’s notebook is full of confessions. Like, what if she’s falling in love with her best friend?
Both a friendship story and a romance, a story of grief and of recovery, KISS THE MORNING STAR is refreshing and new — a story I haven’t read before. It’s the story of two girls finding themselves and each other, of reconciling with family, of camping in the woods and leaving no trace, of art and literature and America. Hoole‘s debut is an absolute treat. I’ll be looking for some stars on this title, for sure.