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.
Reading Lips by Claudia Sternbach is a beautifully touching, witty, and delightful memoir of kisses, and moments in her life that she has never forgotten. The book opens with Claudia waking from surgery and flashes back to third grade and progresses through her life with well-written, intriguing, witty and sometimes bittersweet moments from her first kiss to her cousin’s funeral, to weddings and beyond. I was not certain what to expect when I picked up Reading Lips, but I am glad I did. Sternbach shares her life with the readers in an open manner, making the reader feel a part of her life. Reading Lips is an enjoyable book of life’s memories that I believe most readers will be able to relate with and will stop and think back on their first crush, their first time at camp, their first tragedy and the whole time finding Sternbach to be an extremely funny, gregarious and delightful person. Reading Lips is a quick read, but it is broken down in chapters, or moments in Sternbach’s life, allowing readers to choose to read it all at once or a section at a time, either way the reader is in for a treat. I highly recommend Reading Lips to all readers.
Claudia Sternbach is a writer who is equally at home on both coasts. She has one foot in Manhattan where her daughter resides and the other in northern California where her husband is planted as firmly as the redwoods. she is the author of another memoir, Now Breathe (1999, Whiteaker Press), has been published in several anthologies as well as in major newspapers, and is the Editor in Chief of Memoir (and), a literary journal.
I received a complimentary ARC Reading Lips by Claudia Sternbach from Unbridled Books. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.