Kissing the Bee

Kathe Koja

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Senior year is flying by, the prom is approaching, and Dana, her best friend, Avra, and Avra’s boyfriend, Emil, are about to encounter the pains and pleasures of that intricate beehive called adult life. While Dana plans on college, Avra plots escape once school is over—and plans to take Emil along for the ride. What does Emil want? He’s not saying. Dana studies bees for a biology project, fascinated by their habits and their mythological imagery – but in real life, emotions can sting, and while two’s company, these three may just become a crowd. As Dana reminds us, in every hive there is only one queen bee.
With remarkably textured language and a distinctive heroine, Kissing the Bee is a novel of rare depth and stark honesty that will draw readers in from the very first page. Kissing the Bee is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


Read an Excerpt

From Kissing the Bee
    I wanted Emil. I wanted him from the very beginning, before Avra even saw him. No one knew this, even though Avra would occasionally make these odd little jokes, when we were all together: driving somewhere, the radio on and the windows down; or sitting on the patio, under the acacias; or drinking gunpowder tea in our favorite booth at the Green Bowl: If anything ever happens to me, she's say, piling my hand and Emil's together on the lacquered green table, his long fingers, the scarred silver-spoon ring she gave him, you two have to carry on


Praise for Kissing the Bee

“Captures first love’s exquisite, earth-shattering joy and the struggle and thrill that come with claiming one’s own life.”—Starred, Booklist
“Her understated, tightly focused language evokes vivid scenes and heady emotions...each line of dialogue, each interaction illuminating struggles that readers face as well.” — Starred, Publisher's Weekly
“Teens who have suffered their own stings will appreciate Koja's honest and hopeful rendering.” —Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“...a short but rich psychological exploration of the intense complexities of frienship and love in a teen world.” —School Library Journal

“This is a beautiful novel about relationships.” —Publishers Weekly, ShelfTalker

“Readers will find it hard to pry themselves away from this brilliantly written story...A must read for young romantics.” —IRA

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Kathe Koja

  • KATHE KOJA is the author of several notable books for young adults, including The Blue Mirror and Buddha Boy, both ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and, most recently, Going Under. She lives near Detroit, Michigan.
  • Kathe Koja


Available Formats and Book Details

Kissing the Bee

Kathe Koja

NYPL Books for the Teen Age, Parents' Choice Award Winner, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens, Booklist Top 10 Romances for Youth, Tennessee Intermediate Volunteer State Book Award Master Lis
  • Hardcover