Today is the publication date and my Unbridled Books blog tour stop for Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses, by Claudia Sternbach. Reading Lips is a collection of essays by Sternbach about different pivotal moments in her life, around the loose theme of kisses (whether real, desired, or forced). The essays cover topics like Sternbach's father moving out of the house when she was little, a middle school crush on a boy who later died in a freak accident, her brief career as a stewardess, some disastrous early marriages, and her (and her younger sister's) cancer diagnosis. They are funny, wistful, sad, and bittersweet, and Reading Lips is a quick and entertaining read.
Oddly, Reading Lips was almost a mishmash of the last two books I read – Girls in Trucks and History of a Suicide. Like Girls in Trucks, Reading Lips jumps quickly from event to event, covering a lot of ground with many gaps. While Claudia isn't slow to mature like Girls in Trucks' Sarah (and of course, she's a real person), I recognized some of the same themes in Reading Lips, as well as the same wry humor and sparse, powerful prose. Like History of a Suicide, Reading Lips is a memoir about the power of sisterhood and the vaccum left by an absent father.
I am not sure Sternbach needed the kissing theme – these essays are strong enough to stand without it, and at times it felt forced. But I enjoyed reading about her circuitous route to stability and happiness, and her writing kept me engaged and interested. She has a conversational tone with the reader that establishes a tone of intimacy and inclusion, especially in the later chapters.
I enjoyed this one and am glad that Unbridled Books invited me to participate in the blog tour. (And yes, FTC, they also provided me with the review copy.)
If you'd like to read more about Claudia Sternbach and Reading Lips, check out Style Substance Soul's interview with Sternbach, which was posted yesterday.