Review: Reading Lips – A Memoir of Kisses
Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses by Claudia Sternbach
Publisher: Unbridled Books
From the cover:
Kisses, even the ones that don’t happen, can be the trace of what’s constant when life changes. In childhood, when what seems to define everything is competition—for style, for knowing, for experience—a kiss is the first first. When a girl’s father moves out and chooses a new family, a kiss on the head from him may be the trace of constancy that she wants most.
Later, such things take on a different flavor. Sometimes the kiss she wants doesn’t come. Sometimes the one she wouldn’t have is forced upon her. From time to time, the one she has kissed before is lost to her.
Some kisses are final. When things are most hectic a kiss can be a celebration. And when circumstances grow threatening—to a woman, her family, her sister—a kiss becomes the reassertion of the most vital connections.
The rich story in these essays rings with good humor and with moving wistfulness. Throughout, Sternbach maintains a perfect balance between them as her story moves from the bittersweet desires of childhood on through loss and love.
Reading Lips is the tale of one woman who is just trying to get life right.
Can I just say that I absolutely loved and adored Reading Lips by Claudia Sternbach? To put it simply, Reading Lips is a short and sweet, funny yet heartwarming novel.
Each chapter is a different story, a different moment, a different kiss in Sternbach’s life that has made an important impact on her life. I loved the concept of her memoir and how she decided to define her life by the kisses given and received throughout her life. I think what I loved most about this book was that it focused on the small moments in her life, the ones that probably seemed insignificant at the time. And it’s really those small moments in our life that really define us and make us the person we are today. It’s easy to find a memoir that focuses on some big event that occurred, but reading a memoir like this reminded me of how our lives are also filled with all those small moments and how we should make the most of it.
Sternbach has a true gift for writing. I loved how her voice matured through the progression of the novel. For the most part the stories are told in chronological order and stretch from the time she was a fifth grader eagerly awaiting her first kiss to well into her adulthood. The stories from her childhood were told with a child’s voice and as she shared with us the stories from her adulthood, there was a maturity to her voice. It was a subtle change, but it added more depth to her stories.
Reading Lips is an excellent memoir and one that I would highly recommend. It’s a short and fast read and one that you can complete in one sitting, but it’s also a novel that will leave you thinking and reflecting not only on Sternbach’s life, but on your own.
In addition, if you’re in the New York area tonight (April 7), you may want to check out the Reading Lips Book Launch with an introduction from Jonathan Franzen at the Barnes and Noble on the Upper East Side. Check the Unbridled website for more details about the event and for Sternbach’s other upcoming events.