Book Description

From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a 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 the puritanical administration of 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.

My Review

This book is a roller coaster from start to finish, and my incessant need to know what was going to happen next kept me riveted. What starts out as a mystery blossoms into a subversive coming of age story about challenging the status quo and daring to live authentically.

Chloe, Smith, and Rory have gone to school together for four years (although the latter two have known each other longer), but they don’t appear to have anything in common beyond being classmates. Shara’s notes draw them together; the clues not only have this unlikely trio working together, but they are obligated to revisit key moments of their high school years because everything is connected.

This book is one part mystery, one part confessional, one part teen comedy, with a splash of Flashdance thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, it is a tale of queer joy and triumph. Chloe, the whip-smart snarky protagonist/narrator is the perfect guide for a journey I would like to describe as surreal, but is actually fairly mundane. But in this case, mundane is not synonymous with boring, but rather the sort of thing that could happen to anyone. This makes Chloe and her friends’ lives so relatable, even for people (who may or may not include the author of this review) whose own high school days are long in the past.

While McQuiston’s protagonists have all been on the young side, this is the first that has explicitly been written for Young Adult audiences. One of my dearest friends has a daughter who is a senior, and while talking about books last night, my friend told me that her daughter’s favorite book is Red, White, and Royal Blue. I immediately recommended IKSW, and I can’t wait for them to read it. I’m probably going to buy a copy for my oldest daughter, who is going to camp for a month this summer. She and her cabinmates all read each other’s books last year, and I feel like we need to up our game this year, so she’ll be bringing all the Casey McQuiston books—haha!

In case you couldn’t tell, I would absolutely recommend I Kissed Shara Wheeler. This might be a YA title, but as I alluded to in my previous paragraph, there is massive appeal beyond the target demographic. I am looking forward to many, many re-reads in the future.

I received a digital ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press (Wednesday Books)/NetGalley.

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