I kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston

Usually, when I buy a book from a new author I buy just one, maybe two if I think I’ll like them. After reading Red, White, and Royal Blue though. I went out of my way to buy Casey McQuiston’s other books. With a new one coming out this year, I felt I just had to read at least one of the books I already had. To answer the question: Did I love the book or the author? I thought it would be the author, which is why I bought this book in the hardcover because at the time they didn’t have the paperback at the store where I was looking. I don’t like hardcover as a rule but I put those thoughts aside for this book specifically.

The book in short
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.

I found this information here.

What did I think about the book?
I didn’t grow up in the Bible Bilt, I have never even visited the Bible Belt. Let alone the American Bible Belt. The book therefore is a bit far from my experience. I also never struggled with my gender expression in the same way the characters in the story did (gender expression becomes important for most in puberty but not, in the same way (I think) as people who struggle with their identity as well as their expression simultaneously). I truly believe that if you did grow up in an ultra-religious environment where you felt a bit alienated because you didn’t fit into a mold everyone else seemed to fit in, you would find a lot of recognition in this book.

I found the characters very interesting and loved reading about their personal views on their identities. It can sometimes be a bit hard if you do not know people with different identities to truly understand them. I love talking to my friends about things like this but not everyone is as blessed to have very open-minded people around them. I think the characters can thus be a bit of a learning experience for younger teens. Or adults who frankly have not put time (knowingly or otherwise) into learning about the wide spectrum of people who are walking on this earth. The book read a little bit like a murder mystery but then without all the dying. which I must say was very preferable. I think books like this, which touch upon very serious themes without it being the main focus are very important and helpful. Especially for teenagers that aren’t quite sure about themselves, it’s good that they might read a book where they find themselves. The mystery of where Shara goes missing was compelling, I enjoyed the fact that we followed the story after she was found as well as the impact this had on other people in the story. Instead of leaving when it gets interesting. It was a fun story and the author did not disappoint at all. The other book I own by this author keeps staring at me from my bookshelf, so I will be reading that somewhere this year. 

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