Friday, June 13, 2014

ARC Review: 17 First Kisses

17 First KissesAuthor: Rachael Allen
Publication Date: June 17, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.

Finding a guy to kiss in this town is next to impossible.

My first kiss was with the most popular guy in town. For most girls, in most towns, this would be a good thing. Not for me.

Sometimes you have to take the flying leap. Swallow your fear. Kiss that boy you’ve been thinking about every night for the past month. I don’t have the luxury of wading into the shallow end by degrees.

This contemporary read was just what I needed to kick off my summer. I was craving a light novel, and this debut author and her new release looked very intriguing. This book is a coming of age story that focuses on the difficulty of keeping friendships together and learning to love yourself. Claire is our protagonist, and a marvelous one at that. She is the perfect example of what I believe most teenage girls feel like when they are influenced by the popular crowd and just want to fit in. Claire has kissed quite a few boys, hence the title of the book, and is often referred to as a “slut” because of this. I thought a lot of the influence and pressure she felt was remarkably realistic because I am a high school teacher and can attest to the fact that it does go on frequently.

The friendship between Claire and Megan, the most popular girl in school, is incredibly real. Megan is the Queen Bee, so to speak, and Claire is used to losing boys to Megan, but this time and this boy might just do their friendship in. Their relationship will seem very minimalistic and petty to some readers, but I think it is a perfect portrayal of what high school friendships often resemble. The thing that almost comes between them for good is a boy named Luke, who I will get to in just a minute. It was interesting to watch their relationship progress, and I will tell you that Megan and Claire’s friendship very much resembles a spiraling out of control roller coaster, but as I said before, very realistic.

The bigger message that this book aims to critique revolves around abusive relationships. I was not expecting this at all in any way, shape, or form but it is there. This novel did not turn out to be as light as I thought that it would, but I can definitely stand behind all of the messages that it advertises. This book is about boys and what kind of impact they can have on your life. It is about doing what is best for yourself instead of others at times, and it is also about being a friend, a real, true friend!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at HarperTeen in exchange for my honest review***

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