Saturday, November 22, 2014

17 First Kisses Review

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Keywords: friendship, grief, high school, romance
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Book Depository
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.
I'm thankful that I read this one despite all that I heard about it prior to beginning it (Jamie's discussion about it prompted me to pick it up again, and I'm glad I listened to her post).

I feel like there was a lot that was deceiving about this book. Claire (formerly known as CJ) used to be a tomboy who refused to wear dresses, but she got scooped up into the popular crowd at school and quickly befriends Megan, which starts a lot of this book, and I think it's important to know that about Claire going into the story.

Some of the biggest complaints about the book include slut-shaming language and terrible friendships, and that's why a lot of people put this book down. While tons of paragraphs made me cringe at what the girls were saying about other girls, there was never a moment that seemed unrealistic about what people were saying. I remember high school pretty vividly, and while I actively avoided the popular scene (I was neither a picked-on kid nor a picker-on, I was a theatre kid who stayed far away from everything else), it was language I heard all the time and thought was just a part of life. It doesn't mean I didn't like it. But this is an issue with society and behavior, not the book.

As the story moves along, there is quite a bit revealed about Claire's character, in addition to some revelations about others. We find out that every single character in the book deals with multitudes of problems, which I thought was brave and also realistic on Allen's part. It made the characters much more dynamic, and though I hated several of them, it also garnered sympathy from me. It also made me think a lot about how I judge people in life. I'm guilty, and I think we all are at some point. Allen puts those issues to the forefront and makes you think about how actions and words are affecting other people, even when you really don't like a person. 

It was all a bit dramatic in its plot unfolding, and (okay, I can't be the only one, surely) I really didn't even like Luke at all, but the book definitely had its merits in what it was trying to discuss. I was NOT a fan of one part of the ending, and had several options for Claire I wanted to lay out for her, but I did understand why it happened the way it did. It was realistic, and it was what any high schooler would do. I know I did it quite a bit. I was, however, a fan of
*View Spoiler*

I would recommend reading this, but go into it knowing you will hate quite a few characters, their language, etc. It's not meant to be politically correct or shame people, it's supposed to bring those issues out and show people what it does.


  1. This was one of my 2014 favourites and I just loved it. I get why it isn't some peoples cup of the, but you have to admit, it is so realistically written - the unlikeable characters, the slut-shaming, the language. It's refreshing when an author tells it like it is. You do make a good point about going into it knowing there are things you're not going to agree with or like. And that it's not just written carelessly, but with purpose. I was also a fan of how things with M/S were left.

    Lovely review! I'm so glad you liked it.

    1. I totally agree! It was incredibly realistic, and I'm not proud of it, but this is what high school was, and I know for a fact I said and did hurtful things. It was refreshing (albeit painful) to read a book so true to what actually happens.


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