Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

Posted by

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.

Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Published by HarperTeen on June 17th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperTeen
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

25 Responses to “Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen”

  1. Alicia

    Hmm, just curious! What made you write this book off at first? It’s my first time coming across this title so I’m quite intrigued (especially since this is a 5 STAR REVIEW FROM JENNI). We don’t really lack books about best friends falling in love with the same guy, but what would make this book special is how these relationships tangle and unfold, and still be realistic =) Keeping this in my radar!

    • Jenni

      I had written this one off originally because it sounded like it was just going to be ANOTHER love triangle story. Love triangles are a big turn off for me! Thanks for stopping by, Alicia!

  2. Laura Plus Books

    Wooaahh 5 out of 5?! Okay, I really really need to check this out! I’m a sucker for contemporaries already so now I know I need to pick this one up soon. Lovely review Jenni!

  3. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    I’m still not sure this book is for me. I’m curious, because I keep hearing good things . . . but I can’t get past the whole two best friends liking the same guy. Even though I know that happens in high school. Maybe it hits too close to home for me?

    But YAY for excellent portrayals of family.

    • Jenni

      I was the exact same as you, Quinn. But don’t let the blurb deceive you, it’s so much more than the two friends liking the same guy. I hope it works for you if you end up giving it a go!

  4. Michelle

    Once I saw the 5/5 rating, I knew that I was in. 🙂 I love contemporary reads, and adding great close friendships all throughout captivates me even more. Great review!

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I completely forgot about this book because it didn’t seem like my kind of read at all and I have to be honest, it looks like it’s actually a really deep and complex novel, something I didn’t expect it to be.
    I already like that even though these girls are part of the popular group, they had a tight friendship. All the themes seem to be handled well too. I’ll have to give this one a try.
    Lovely review, Jenni.

  6. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    Book bloggers could seriously conquer the world, if we weren’t so busy reading. 😉 I’m glad that you gave Blythe’s recommendation a go, and that it paid off (it’s kind of awkward when it doesn’t LOL). Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Jenni

      It is so awkward when you are highly recommended a book and then you have to tell the person that you hated it! Very happy that this one didn’t go that way 🙂

  7. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    Heh, I wouldn’t have expected this book to sound so good! Usually I’m not really big on contemporaries like this, that sound more light-hearted reads rather than the content-heavy ones I tend to prefer. But wow, for fans of Courtney Summers?! That’s pretty high praise.

    I’m so relieved that this book is more than just romance. Definitely wouldn’t have expected that, looking at the blurb and the title. And yes for good secondary characters! They tend to be left out as the main character’s love life progresses, which really pisses me off. And I’m actually getting kind of embarrassed — in a good way, if you know what I mean — reading about the how the author flashes back to Claire’s first kisses. xD

    The high school politics, sex and even the ugly truth behind relationships is all dealt with in a completely authentic way.” — I’m all for honesty in books, especially difficult topics that aren’t usually brushed on in literature. So I’m really liking the sound of this book and how deep it actually is! Your review definitely changed my mind about reading 17 First Kisses, Jenni. Great review!

    • Jenni

      Yeah, I expected this one to be rather fluffy as well, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was pretty gritty! It bothers me when secondary characters fall away once the romance gets going to but no fear of that with this one. I hope you like this one if you give it a try, Megan!

    • Jenni

      A lot of people seem to feel the same way so I’m happy that now that reviews are out there people are taking a second glance at it. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. tonyalee

    I have to agree – that the blurb marks it sound like two best friends falling for the same guy… and nothing else. I wrote it off too!

    I’m glad you loved it!

  9. Christianna

    I had written this one off too, but it does sound like it’s a very contemporary! Thanks for the honest review, I just might need to pick this one up at some point!

  10. Alexia @ Adventures in Reading

    I know that when I read it, I was expecting a sweet fluffy book. But it turned out to be so much more complex than that. I ended up actually liking this one a lot, which is crazy because I wasn’t super excited about it before.

  11. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    This sounds excellent Jenni, I love the accurate portrayal of high schools even though it is through the eyes of a popular girl. At least the friendships and drama were authentic. Thanks for the great review! I look forward to reading this one.

  12. Meredith

    I am so happy to hear that you loved it! I’m looking for some good contemporary reads so I will definitely add this to the list. Great review!

  13. Wendy Darling

    Wow, 5 stars, Jenni! I was a bit hesitant after hearing that she really does kiss 17 boys in the book, which seemed like it could get a bit tedious, but so far all the reviews I’ve seen have been really positive. Guess I need to get myself a copy soon!

  14. Ellie

    Every month on our blog we do, this months releases and 17 first kisses was included. I was really pleased to see this review due to the fact that I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy this book and wanted to see some reviews on it, so thankyou.