Title: I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Author: Casey McQuiston
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, LGBTQ+
Date of Publication: May 3, 2022
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need…
Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.
But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.
On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.
Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.
Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.
Casey McQuiston’s young adult debut is just as riveting and beautifully written as her adult books!
Like with One Last Stop, this book has a cast full of lovable, three-dimensional characters who (sometimes) steal the show. Any one of them could be an engaging protagonist in a book about their own life story, which to me shows the depth with which McQuiston writes everything, even side characters.
The book is chock full of witty descriptions and hilarious pop culture references that somehow managed to make me feel both old and young at the same time. The entire book is told through Chloe Green’s point of view. While it’s third person, her perspective, which is both confident and slightly sarcastic, shines through in the style of writing. Between chapters we get epistolary-style snippets of information that augments the storyline, add humor, and provides some additional backstory. While I love McQuiston’s writing style, I did find that some parts were a little heavy in the description, particularly in the scenes where drama was going down. I found myself skimming the description because I just needed to know what would happen next! This book would do well for a re-read so I can appreciate just how well McQuiston sets the scene for this young adult love story.
Chloe Green knows exactly who she is, but she’s grown up in a highly religious community, where those around her aren’t as lucky as she is. They haven’t had the opportunity she has with her moms to figure out who they are and to express this without fear of discrimination. This is an interesting approach to the story, because as those around her are figuring out who they really are, Chloe is learning a lot about herself and her privilege and just how judgmental she can be in the process.
While this is a romance novel, it does feel more like a coming of age story, just because of the basic premise of the plot. If you go into this book just for the romance, you might be a little disappointed, as this is just a small aspect of the story, and there’s so, so much more going on.
All in all, this is an amazing book, and McQuiston has become an automatic read for me!
*Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for the ebook to review*
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