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I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston

Thank you so much to the publishers for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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 daughter.

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 neighbour 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.

Casey McQuiston is definitely one of my favourite authors. I’ve adored all their books so far, which meant I was beyond excited to read their YA debut. All Casey’s other books have been general fiction / new adult so this is a new genre for her to write for and I was apprehensive to see how her writing would change. I’m so pleased to say this book is just as wonderful as their others. It has Casey McQuiston’s signature humour, characters you feel you have known for years and just all-round amazing and captivating writing.

I loved all of the characters in this book. Chloe Green, the main character, is fierce and not one to be stopped. It was entertaining to see her grow throughout the book and watch her learn more about who she is. All the side characters in this book have my heart too. They are all interesting, complex, messy and loveable all at the same time. Each of them brings something new to the story and bring their own little bits of humour to the book.

The different relationships we see throughout this book are all excellent. I loved the friendships in this book. There is an unlikely friendship formed in this book thanks to following the mystery Shara has left. It brings together characters who are so different from one another but work so well together. It warmed my heart seeing so many wonderful friend interactions and moments. When a book has a heavy focus on friendship I’m bound to be a fan.

Chloe and Shara’s relationship is amazing too. I loved seeing the academic rival to lovers dynamic between the pair. It was exciting to see how their relationship developed. I was a little worried that the pacing of the relationship would be off but let me tell you, it is perfect! The way their relationship built-up was just right and kept my attention throughout the book. Casey McQuiston definitely knows how to write romances.

This book focuses on living in a small town which is situated in the Bible Belt. This posed for some very interesting discussions. All of the characters go to a Christian school and we get to see how religion effects their education and the way that they see themselves. Please be warned going into this book that a few of the topics covered may be triggering. Casey McQuistion tackles these topics in a raw and honest way whilst still keeping it light-hearted with some humour throughout.

Casey McQuiston’s writing is spectacular and kept me engaged throughout. Each of the characters has their own unique voices and none of them blend together. The way this book is set out is engaging too. At the end of each chapter is a little added information for the story. That could text messages between characters, speeches characters make or simply just notes passed to one another in class. These addition bring so much more insight to the story and the characters. I loved them.

Overall, I Kissed Shara Wheeler is a hilarious, heart-warming and engaging novel. It keeps the reader engaged in the mystery and honestly captures the feeling of being a teenager and coming to know who you are. It is a story about being yourself and all that comes along with that. I would highly recommend this one!

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