Tillie Cole → A Thousand Boy Kisses


Page Count:


Content Warning:

Penguin Random House UK


Physical Book

Cancer, Terminal Illness, Child Death, Death

Book Description

Rune Kristiansen and Poppy Litchfield met as children and swore to be friends forever. As teenagers, this grew into a love that promised to last a lifetime. But their worlds were shattered when Rune was sent home to his native Norway.

Two years later, Rune is back and Poppy is ready for their happy ever after to begin. But the boy who returns is not the Rune she remembers.

What happened to turn her sweet, thoughtful Rune into this brooding stranger?

And will the secret Poppy is carrying bring them closer together or separate them for ever?

A Thousand Emotions: The Power of Unbreakable Bonds

Tillie Cole’s A Thousand Boy Kisses has taken over the hearts of many BookTok members and has brought many of them to tears. We delve into the story of Poppy Litchfield and Rune Kristiansen, two childhood sweethearts who would do anything for one another. This unbreakable bond, however, ends up pushing them apart for a longer period of time. With Rune back in Blossom Grove, Virginia, Poppy has to figure out what she wants to happen and how she wants it to happen.


The book officially belongs to the Romance and Young Adult categories but has shown to be overly enjoyed by people of many ages.

I have caught wind of it over TikTok myself and was prepared for a read full of emotion and heartbreak but also the warmth of genuine love between two people.


I was shocked to find that I did not connect with the book. I did not connect with the characters. I enjoyed the beginning and was very positively looking forward to reading this book. A little after the 25-30 % mark I started questioning the plot and felt myself rather distancing from the characters and wondering if I should stop reading or not. I kept going.



My Mama let out a sob from behind me, but I just stared at my mamaw, confused. “But where are you going, Mamaw? I don’t understand.”

“Home, sweetie,” my mamaw said. “I am going home.”



For Poppy, her grandmother has been her best friend and the person she enjoyed spending time with the most. Sadly, with her growing sickness, Poppy had to be taken early out of school to say her final goodbye. This gripping moment is what hooked me at the beginning of the story. My own grandmother passed away about two years ago and I felt with Poppy and what she was going through.

Her grandmother, however, did not want to leave Poppy without leaving her with one last adventure, one last mission to fulfill in her life. Poppy had to collect one thousand boy kisses in her jar and write down the memory of it. She should later on in life open it and let her children and grandchildren know all about it.


I was excited and was ready for the story. Rune knows what he has to do and is serious about it. They are in love with one another and continue to be so until their teenage hood.


However, the story is interrupted by a factor that, I found, had no reason to either happen or lacked the needed depth and meaning to make it relevant to the emotional impact wanted.


Rune’s parents decide to go back to their native country for an unknown period of time. They do not tell Rune anything up until the last moment because they are scared of what Rune might do. They have switched his schools, booked a flight, and gotten a house. They did not sell the house they owned in Blossom Grove.


Now I could not help but wonder. How can parents be like that? Not tell him anything and then he just has to go. After growing up in America and most likely not relating to anything from his native country anymore, Rune had to go. No matter the compromise that he was proposing, his parents kept denying everything. Can this all be so radical?


I found this to be my main plot issue. Rune has stopped talking to his parents and has rebelled beyond belief. Poppy stopped talking to him and he felt left alone by everyone. That somehow works out.

Would it not have been better to make the process of moving a little longer? Not only shock Rune and the reader but keep everything radical. Maybe the parents should argue differently? Maybe there was a deeper reason as to why Rune just had to go and couldn’t stay. He had a good reason to remain and for me, the parents had no reason to brush everything off and not think about what would be better for their son. He had Poppy, school, and a life that he already had to build once before when they moved to America.


I agree that these decisions of the parents are meant to build the plot and they are a crucial part of it, however, the technique applied and the writing style of it, I find a bit lacking.


The language is fitting for a Young Adult book, however, I was surprised by the sometimes too-straightforward manner of speaking. Was it meant to portray the manner in which teenagers just seem to talk and think? Somehow for me, it seemed a bit too easy. However, that is just a personal preference. I wondered if I was too old for this. And then I wondered how others my age were quite literally crying on social media platforms during their reading.


Major Spoiler Alert!!!


Poppy is terminally ill. She will die in the span of the next few months and Rune has to go through it with her and help her fill her jar of kisses all the while trying to keep himself together in a time where all he wanted was to break into pieces.


The journey and pace of the book before these last moments that they get to spend together are very slow and I could see that the author doesn’t just want to give in and needs the characters to re-connect through a longer process. It is believable and, from me, well received. However, and this is a big one, why would the moments after her secret be so short? It seemed like snippets of time and little scenes which, had importance, but came a little short. The kisses kept coming but were so small in meaning that from all the meaningful ones we only received a handful maybe. I would have wished for more depth in the plot and connection between Rune and Poppy. It had an extreme amount of potential and seemed to be done too quickly.


Poppy returns home. Rune is heartbroken. And yet he keeps on living for some years until he ends up in a chapter where he meets Poppy again. To my understanding, this happens 10 years after Poppy’s death. And he gives the feeling that he has chosen to end his life to be with Poppy. Somehow I could not connect with this and found it a tad bit too drastic for a book meant for younger people. Are they supposed to think that there is nothing beyond this experience. It is heartbreaking that Poppy is gone. Is there nothing more left to live for, though? His family, his career, Poppy’s memory? Maybe putting more time and space instead of a jump which for me seemed too open to understand would have solved my riddle and set a good example. I would be quite disappointed with Rune if he had done that because I know that he had reasons to live and should have tried to not give up a long life which Poppy sadly did not get. Why would he end his if Poppy was taken away and had no chance to live? Would this not be contradictory?

All in all, I was extremely disappointed that at some point in the book, I started skipping because there was too little for me to keep me hooked. I read John Green’s All The Fault In Our Stars and A Thousand Boy Kisses seemed to be an easier version of the complexity of John Green. Some would get tired because of the language in John Green’s story, however, here it seemed too simple. The thought behind it and the potential it was showing at the beginning of the book, I was expecting more from this book than it gave me.


However, I wish to state that not everyone should and will have the same feelings as me and that is what makes reading books so beautiful. We all read the same material and we still have different perceptions of what we read. How we engage with a book, a story, or the characters, is something that belongs to us individually and should never be 100 % the same.


Would I recommend this book? For others, I would objectively say that I would recommend this book under certain circumstances if you would rely on my comment. If you are just now starting your journey to read, and have not yet read so much that you have a feeling about what you like and what you don’t like, then, and only then would I recommend this book to you. It can be an easy read and can be something that gets you started for the more complicated stuff that is out there waiting for you.

I myself, though, would not read this book again.


Character Development

Writing Style







Emotional Impact

Tillie Cole's Author Page

Tillie Cole is a successful author who received great praise over TikTok for her story A Thousand Boy Kisses. It has been announced that readers will be able to enjoy the second book in this series as of 2024. She has managed to touch many hearts and teach many lessons to her readers through her touching story. 

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