Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

17 First Kisses
17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
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.


Publishes in US: June 17th 2014 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemp
Source: Harper Teen via Edelweiss
Series? No

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    I wanted to read this one because I wanted to know what the tragedy with her family as well as find the dirt on the 17 kisses as well as her current crush. 

    I immediately felt for Claire. I was always the girl that had a hard time with boys, especially at first. She had a great narrative voice and it was so easy to read from her perspective and laugh with her, worry about her mom with her, and reminisce about those kisses and how they went wrong. 

    It was such a shame that the new guy to school, Luke, in the present, was in the middle with her and Megan, Claire's best friend who is gorgeous and who all the guys seem to fall for, even ones that Claire has liked and kissed. But Megan liked Luke too and it became a strain on their relationship because neither of them really wanted to step down. It is hard seeing a friendship tested like that, but an important dynamic to explore since hot sweet guys can make us as women's heads a little fuzzy, us hormonal and make some questionable decisions. 

    Some interesting twists came up with Luke besides the fact that he was leading on two girls. Some of it I saw coming others I really didn't. But while he added drama to the story, I think that the main message is about so much more than kissing. I liked the emphasis on friendship and showing the many ways they can be damaged, repaired, stretched, formed and all other sorts of things. There was also a big focus on Claire's family. They weren't the most functional because of their tragedy, but who could blame them. I was so glad to see them all start to grow and let life run its course without letting it drag them down out of it. The parents were dynamic characters in the story too, and I liked that none of the issues were gift wrapped, it showed that it took time, patience and lots of hard work to get through tragedy. 

    Parts of the story is told in flashback and it gives a unique look not only in Claire's string of kisses and failed relationships with guys, but also a more emotional view of the past tragedy within the family so that I felt it and was more emotionally invested rather than it just being mentioned. At first it was a little hard to keep all of the characters (guys especially) straight from one another, but they all played a role on how Claire sees guys, her and Megan's friendship. 

    Seeing them when they were first best friends makes the tension between them over Luke harder to read. I can see both sides of it, but it just seems like the closeness they have, everything they have done to be there for each other should take precedence. I know it was a hard road, but I did appreciate how in the end it worked for them despite their issues, even if maybe not quite as easy as could have been if they'd made different choices. 

    One thing that I really wanted as I read this first part of the book was to see more growth in Claire in that she didn't let the popular crowd and peer pressure make her own decision for you. I get that some of these kisses were in elementary school and really don't count, or from spin the bottle, which I also wouldn't say adds to reputation... However, there were some where she ended up there because she didn't want to lose approval. Now, I understand that is a driving factor, but I just wanted her to realize her own value and use her own mind. 
    17 First Kisses was wonderfully paced, there was just enough drama, boys, friendship and family that it had my constant attention, seeing how it grew, shaped and changed Claire. The ending was nice, and while it leaves us with the start of a new chapter for Claire, I do like the way it tied up the main plots, but also gave room for lots of choices for the future for Claire because of the way some of her dreams and hopes worked themselves out. Maybe even a sequel... I definitely would not complain. 

Bottom Line: Quick and enjoyable book

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Did you kiss a lot or a little in middle and high school?
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  1. Yay, so happy this one was good. I had high hopes for it but I haven't been seeing any review's.

  2. For some reason when I first saw this book I thought that it wouldn't be for me, but now after reading several praising reviews, I really want to give this one a go! Fab review

  3. These YA contemporary books are stepping up ! Usually it was all bubble gum, now it has more depth it seems

  4. I saw this review on Goodreads and agree completely. I liked this one quite a bit. Loved the emphasis on friendship. I don't think I needed to hear about quite so many of her kisses, but all in all, I thought this one was good.

    So sorry that your family has experienced a loss. Thinking of you!

  5. Jenea WhittingtonJune 17, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    I think this sounds really good, and I think I would definitely enjoy it. Glad you did!

  6. I haven't heard a lot about this one but it sounds really good!

  7. This one sounds like a good read filled with some really nice elements! I like the sound of the main character and the conflicts/growth she overcomes and goes through.

    Lovely review!!

  8. Eeep! You liked it too :) I've seen, I think, 1 negative review and 1 DNF, but the rest? All 4-5 stars. I'm glad that it had some twists in it and was a good issue book. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks, but it done right, it could be very benefitial for a story. Lovely review, Brandi!

  9. I have read some mixed reviews and I think this one sounds good. I like that it shows growth, even though you didn't get as much as you hoped.

  10. I feel like I need to read this one because of the names. My first name is Megan and my middle name is Claire!

  11. I am intrigued my this book's premise and I love the friendship and family aspect that it has. I can't wait to find out how all those kisses turn out and shape Claire's life. I'm not so much into the whole flash back element but I do like that it brought something unique to the story. Glad you enjoyed this, Brandi! Wonderful review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair

  12. Wow... this book sounds like it is a bit emotional and a bit intense. I like the flashback concept, it aways gives greater depth to the story! Fab review girl!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  13. I like that this book seems to focus a lot on friendship. I love finding that in books. It's sad that Claire and her friend are tested because of their feelings for Luke. This does sound like an interesting book, I may just have to check it out to see how it ends!

  14. I think Luke would drive me nuts! But I do like books with friendships so I might like this one. Glad you enjoyed!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  15. Little. Very very little xD
    As for the book, it sounds interesting. I would probably pick it up for the same reasons, to find out what the tragedy with her family was, and to know what the past kisses were like. Trying to find out what made them so disastrous. as well. I think I would also be curious to see exactly how this new found crush strains the friendship. I know two of my mates were in the same situation, and things became difficult between the four of us, you know? Sounds like a reasonable book.


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