I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Published by HarperTeen on June 17th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Buy on Amazon
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.
The fact that I even read 17 First Kisses at all is a testament to what book bloggers can accomplish. I had written this one off and didn’t think it was going to be for me at all until I saw Blythe’s (Finding Bliss In Books) review. As soon as I saw that she recommended it for fans of Courtney Summers I knew that it was going to be so much more than the blurb let on. And it was, this one has become close to, if not my favourite contemporary read of 2014 so far.
What I loved so much about this book is that it was so much more than a romance. There were friendships here that were so interesting, secondary characters that were perfectly fleshed out and one of the best family dynamics I have seen in a contemporary novel. The blurb leads readers to believe that this will be a book about two best friends falling in love with the same boy and duking it out for his attention, but I can’t stress enough that it is so much more than that. Sure, there is a heavy focus on Claire’s love life, we actually get to re-live all of her first kisses with boys through some well done flashbacks, but even those moments feel much more important that just being about high school romance. In these flashbacks we see what her family has gone through in the past years and how she has lost the family that she was once blessed to have. Watching her struggle with picking up the pieces and bringing her family back to life was probably my favourite part of the novel. The emotions that come along with having your home life ripped out from under you are conveyed so well and everything Claire feels when she sees her mother grieving, or watches her father completely shut off were so palpable.
She’s not only dealing with stuff at home but we also see her friendships are constantly growing and changing as well. She’s amongst the popular group of four girls in her school and as you can imagine that comes along with it’s fair share of drama. What was great about this was we saw how close Megan and Claire were. On the outside everything about this group of girls looked so superficial but they were really great friends. Once Luke comes into the picture things get rocky, but they have an openness with one another than can only come from years of great friendship. Even the other two girls in the group, Amberly and Britney became people that I really cared about. Each of these girls had their very own personality that was conveyed so well, I think Allen did such a wonderful job of fleshing everybody out.
Adding to the list of wonderful things about this novel is the honesty of it. The high school politics, sex and even the ugly truth behind relationships is all dealt with in a completely authentic way. I loved that Allen didn’t sugarcoat anything and I appreciated it because it made the story feel that much more real. It’s a true to life depiction of what being a girl in high school is like. From the name calling that goes on to the fear of losing one’s virginity I couldn’t be happier with the depiction I was presented with.
I could really gush about this book forever but then you would all get pretty bored. I think this is a must read for any contemporary lover and the recommendation Blythe made is so spot on, Summers fans will devour this book and love every single moment of it. Claire’s narration is spot on for a girl of her age and I loved that she was smart and funny to boot!
5 Hot Espressos
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