Sandra Scoppettone Liz Williams - Essay

Liz Williams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Long Time Between Kisses is a refreshing and well-written novel that explores the discovery and change inherent in adolescence. Billie James, the story's narrator and protagonist, lives in a loft in New York City's SoHo with her mother … and three cats. In the summer of her sixteenth year, she chops off her boring brown hair and dyes the remainder purple, hoping that this radical physical alteration will substitute for what she considers to be an unremarkable personality. In the course of the novel, however, she and the reader come to recognize her uniqueness…. [Billie] is gifted with the capacity to care for other people. She rescues an old man from starvation and loneliness, cares about her best friend Elissa's problems and feelings, and is concerned with the well-being of her parents, both of whom have a great many of their own anxieties. Most significantly, she helps the boy with whom she falls in love to recognize his fears and feelings, though she must give up her relationship with him to do so.

Scoppettone weaves her story skillfully. Billie and her friends are realistically portrayed, and the adult characters are also believable—malapropistic Aunt Ruthie from the Bronx deserves special mention. The dialogue is convincing and often funny. Long Time Between Kisses addresses many significant issues—feminism, handicaps, moral dilemmas—but never pedantically. It is well worth reading, and young adults will enjoy it. (pp. 57-8)

Liz Williams, in her review of "Long Time between Kisses," in Young Adult Cooperative Book Review Group of Massachusetts. Vol. 18, No. 4, April, 1982, pp. 57-8.