Book Review

I Kissed Shara Wheeler

I Kissed Shara Wheeler

  • Author: Casey McQuiston
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2022
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this audiobook.

CONTENT WARNING: homophobia

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

When I got the chance to get an ALC of this book, there was no way I could refuse. Especially since it is narrated by Natalie Naudus, one of my favorite narrators in the world.

McQuiston has such a great way with romantic comedies, and after reading One Last Stop, I wanted to see what she could do with a YA rom-com. Turns out, she could do even more than I had hoped. 

First of all, the writing is HILARIOUS. I laughed out loud so many times while listening to this, and the witty banter between all the characters was so good. There’s a pretty big cast of characters, but they all have such unique personalities that it wasn’t ever difficult to differentiate between them, even though I have been known to have that problem with audiobooks at times.

I have to admit, that I was curious about Shara, but then my feelings about her were a rollercoaster. In the beginning, she seemed so perfect. But as I read on, I grew to like her less and less, and then went back to liking her by the end. Because as we all know, things aren’t always what they look like on the outside. 

Since the book takes place at a Christian high school in the middle of nowhere Alabama, there’s a lot of homophobic messages being broadcasted to the kids in the story, But it’s blatantly obvious that all that messaging can’t change a person’s sexuality, rather how they feel about themselves and their level of self-acceptance. I was especially loving all the characters and how they come to terms with who they are, what they want, and how they express themselves. 

It’s such a good story — mainly because it wasn’t only about the romance. To find out what happened to Shara, the three main characters, Chloe, Smith, and Rory, all have to solve a series of puzzles. And it has some unexpected effects on all of them. But it was the kind of book that I couldn’t put down, even though I had some responsibilities to take care of. Obviously, those didn’t get done, and I have to apologize to my buddy reader for a different book, because now I’m behind. But Casey McQuiston and her characters have earned a special place in my heart.

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