"Kiss Kiss Bark," a young-adult novel by local author Kim Williams-Justesen, tells the story of Mattie James and her annoying little brother, Donny.
For Mattie, it is the end of the summer before she starts her freshman year of high school. It's a summer she feels she has missed because of the amount of time she has spent watching her 4-year-old brother, Donny.
Donny is not a bad kid, but he enjoys finding ways to annoy his sister. His latest effort involves pretending to be a dog, complete with a shiny red collar he wears around his neck.
Mattie's frustration grows as her parents seem to encourage Donny's behavior instead of correcting it. Her dad goes so far as to be constantly filming Donny, believing he will capture a winning video. Despite Mattie’s pleas for help, her parents offer no help in changing the way her brother behaves.
Suddenly, Mattie finds her life is turning around. The boy she has had a crush on for some time is suddenly paying attention to her and asking her out. Unfortunately, this boy is the older brother of her best friend. His interest in her puts a strain on her friendship with his sister.
Just when Mattie thinks life is as crazy as it can get, her little brother Donny again finds a way to bring the focus back to him. Mattie soon learns a lesson about focusing only on herself.
"Kiss Kiss Bark" is a sweet story about friendship, boyfriends and brothers. It gives readers insight into the lives of 14-year-old girls and their relationships with their brothers.
This story contains some details of Mattie and her boyfriend kissing, but also focuses on Mattie realizing the problem with being alone with an older boy and dating when she is just 14.
In the end, the author does a nice job of showing us the maturation of her main characters and the growth they achieve throughout the book.
"Kiss Kiss Bark" has been republished by Tanglewood Press and was orginally published as "My Brother the Dog."
If you go ...
What: Kim Williams-Justesen book signingComment on this story
When: Saturday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Steve Larson is one of the founders of Information Alliance, a Utah-based data collection company. He currently serves as vice president of sales. He spends his free time writing and practicing photography. He also enjoys spending time outdoors.