Kiss Quotient (Hoang)

The Kiss Quotient 
Helen Hoang, 2018
Berkley Press
336 pp.

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe.

She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan.

The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger's Syndrome. Her journey inspired her 2018 novel, The Kiss Quotient. In 2019 she published The Bride Test.

She currently lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, two kids, and pet fish. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
Hoang writes Stella with insight and empathy, especially when Stella's actions are inscrutable to the people around her. Stella's aware of that disconnect, too, and her frustration is a sharp sadness in an otherwise gentle, frothy book.
Jaime Greene - New York Times Book Review

[A]fter months of fanfare, and I'm happy to report [The Kiss Quotient] absolutely lives up to the buzz. It's a heartening, fun, and all-consuming story in which we fall in love with both an endearing on-the-spectrum econometrician and the sexy biracial male escort she hires to teach her everything about modern dating and sex.
Kamrun Nessa - NPR

Hoang’s witty debut proves that feelings are greater than numbers, no matter how you add things up.

With a deft hand, Hoang crafts an honest and thoughtful look at the challenges Stella’s neuroatypicality poses while never losing sight of who Stella is as an individual, especially as her relationship with Michael evolves into something far beyond the scientific.
Harper’s Bazaar

Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient is an absolute delight—charming, sexy, and centered on a protagonist you love rooting for.

(Starred review) Hoang knocks it out of the park with this stellar debut…. The diverse cast and exceptional writing take this romance to the next level, and readers who see themselves in Stella will be ecstatic.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review) This title sits firmly in the erotic romance category, but the couple's slow build (and sizzling sexual chemistry) is certainly worth the wait. Verdict: A compulsively readable erotic romance that is equal parts sugar and spice. Highly recommended.
Library Journal

[The] novel features two uncommon protagonists: a woman with autism… and a biracial man. Inspired by personal experience, Hoang depicts Stella with empathy and honesty.… [A] refreshing take on the classic romance story — Aleksandra Walker

Discussion Questions
 1. Prior to reading this book, how would you have imagined an autistic woman? How does Stella compare to this vision?

2. Stella was surprised when she heard her coworker Philip James had been asked out by their new intern. When it comes to heterosexual relationships, do you think men should be the initiators? What does it say about a woman if she asks out a man?

3. Does it surprise you to see an autistic person exploring a sexual relationship? If so, why?

4. With regards to autism, people are divided between using person-first language (i.e. “person with autism”) and identity-first language (i.e. “autistic person”). One of the main arguments for person-first language is that it separates a person from their mental disorders. Many autistic people, on the other hand, prefer identity-first language because they believe autism is an intrinsic part of who they are and have no wish for a “cure.” Which do you think is right? Do you think it can depend on each person’s individual circumstances and preferences? How did you feel when Stella tried to make herself fresh and fantastic? Why did you feel that way?

5. What do you think of a man with Michael’s Friday night profession? How does that compare to your impression of a woman with that profession? If gender makes a difference, why is that?

6. How does Michael’s daytime profession affect his attractiveness?

7. Throughout the book, Michael worries he’s inherited his father’s “badness,” that it was passed down in his blood. Do you think this is illogical? Are you able to empathize with him? If so, how?

8. Is love alone enough? Can people with different cultures, education levels, and wealth be together in the long run? How can they make it work?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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