Review: Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Title: Who I Kissed

Author: Janet Gurtler

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: October 1st, 2012

Interest: Contemporary / Blog Tour

Source: Finished copy received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in…

And she wanted to make Zee a little jealous…

But now things will never be the same unless she can find a reason to start living again.

Who I Kissed is the first book I’ve read by Janet Gurtler and I enjoyed it.  I have two of her other books on my shelf right now, and after finishing Who I Kissed, I’m looking forward to reading those other titles.  Despite enjoying this book, I still have a few issues with it so I’m breaking my review into likes and dislikes.

What I Liked:

  • The easy writing style is definitely a win for me.  Who I Kissed is a quick read and straightforward.  The characters’ voices are distinct and the story is easy to follow.
  • I was a swimmer in high school, so it’s fun to read a YA novel about swimmers.  I wish there were more that feature swimmers because I really don’t think swimming is recognized enough.  It’s a tough sport!
  • I love Sam’s support system.  Her dad helps in the few ways he knows how, but he’s still supportive and a positive influence in Sam’s life.  Her aunt, however, is fantastic.  She’s the mother figure Sam really needs and is so much fun to read.
  • The ending is “neat and tidy,” but I really liked it.
  • Sam has a really hard time dealing with Alex’s death and allowing herself to recognize that it was an accident on her part, but she really learns how to be strong and independent.  She makes some big mistakes along the way, but she quickly learns from them and keeps moving forward.  I like how Gurtler balances the weak Sam with the strong Sam.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I understand that this book is about dealing with grief and bringing peanut allergies (and similar allergies) into focus, but Alex’s death happened too fast.  I think the story would have been stronger if we learned more about Sam before she meets and kisses Alex.  Her crush on Zee may have been more believable along with realizing how insecure she is.  It threw off the pacing a little bit because it ends up being lots and lots of grief which wore me out after a while.
  • I don’t know how I feel about Casper’s character.  I understand the intent in adding him as a character, but I don’t know if the story really needed to go in the direction it did with him.  Towards the end it just felt over the top.  (I’m purposely being vague to avoid spoilers.)

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