It’s a new take on the fairytale “The Frog Prince.” The story revolves around ex-nerd Jessica who went from an A student and spelling bee champ to someone more concerned with popularity and status. She plans to head to the beach with her friends during spring break until her biology teacher unfortunately tells her she’s failing his class. The only way she can set things right is if she joins the conversation club in Panama and help them in their efforts to save the golden frog. While she’s there, she rediscovers her inner nerd and gets reacquainted with an old school mate, Travis. In return for retrieving Jessica’s lost ring from a pool, Travis requests three “non-dates,” hoping to prove to her he’s no frog but perhaps just a prince in disguise.
The writing is both simple and entertaining. It’s very easy to jump into the story, imagining the characters and their surroundings. All the secondary characters have a personality of their own, being able to tell between them. Sometimes authors don’t take the time to give a little life to their other characters, which may end up making them feel flat, but Sevigny was able to make me love the side characters too.
At first, it was very hard for me to like Jessica. She’s part of the popular crowd, focusing on maintaining her status, looks, friends, and boyfriend. I couldn’t relate to her, finding her annoying. I was much more drawn to Harp, who seemed shy but comfortable enough in her own skin. I always love rooting for the underdog. Though as the story went on, my heart did go out to Jessica during her struggles. In a group of fun-loving geeks, she was an outcast. I think a trip to El Valle de Anton, Panama did her some good. She took the time to see inside herself and realize what she truly wanted.
Then, there’s Travis, who may have been my favourite character. I loved his acceptance of the duality of being a geek and still being able to do physical activity like horseback riding. He’s someone I could relate to. I’ve always been a nerdy person, always with a book in my hand, but also been playing soccer all my life too. I feel lucky to be a part of both worlds—a nerd and a jock. Also, as a part of my blog, I’m always looking for remarkable female characters and supportive male characters. Travis fits the latter. He has been raised by a single mother and explains to Jessica how he hates how some of the men in his mother’s life have treated her. From those experiences, he knows the kind of man he wants to be: understanding, respectful, and kind.
I especially loved that the story took place in Panama where Jessica and the other students on the trip learned about the golden frog. Too many stories take place somewhere in North America, so it’s always refreshing to read something that takes place elsewhere. I always love learning about other cultures and their stories. The author also included Spanish here and there from the locals, making it feel like you were really there too.
I can tell Sevigny carefully researched about Panama and its golden frogs. I applaud her for bringing to light the reality of animal extinction on our planet.
Did you know: Panamanian golden frogs are considered critically endangered, and may actually be extinct in the wild?
Biologists have made efforts to protect and breed golden frogs in capacity. This novel is a perfect reminder to take care of our planet and everything that lives on it. If you want to make a positive change, I recommend volunteering at a wildlife conservation, or donating to organizations like the World Wildlife Foundation or the Canadian Wildlife Foundation, or an organization that means something to you.
Kissing Frogs is a fun, entertaining read. Jessica’s story reminds readers to accept ourselves and to listen to our inner voices. Life’s about self-discovery. The people in your life might be giving you great advice, but sometimes we need to go on our own journey to realize what they truly mean and understand the good we deserve.
*Disclosure: An advance reading copy was provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions within this review are solely my own, not that of the publisher or the author.