A friend gave me this advanced copy of Who I Kissed and I was excited to read it, but for all the wrong reasons it turns out. I was looking for a fluffy contemporary and the cover of this book certainly says that, but the insides are completely different... and so much better than fluff. There should be a peanut on the cover of this book, not an attractive high school girl with a hot dude standing behind her. Why?
Who I Kissed is about a girl named Samantha who accidentally kills a boy by kissing him. Alex was highly allergic to peanuts and Samantha didn't know, so when she kisses him at a party to make another boy jealous after eating a peanut butter sandwich... all hell breaks loose at the party and Alex dies on the way to the hospital. Now Samantha must live with the stigma of her peers for accidentally killing one of the best-loved boys in school.
I was hooked from page one, I tell you, page one! Before Samantha goes to that infamous party, we get to learn a little bit about her - she's a shy, serious gal who studies hard even on the weekends, rarely parties, and takes her swimming career very seriously. She eats well and exercises and her idea of going nuts is going to a movie at night. I loved Samantha from the beginning because she reminded me of me in high school - minus the swimming. So when she aims to make her crush/almost-boyfriend, Zee, jealous at a party (yes, this part is a little fluffy) she decided to kiss the attractive Alex who evidently had a thing for Sam as well.
The fluff stops here. Immediately Alex cannot breathe and, well... you know what happens after that.
I was really impressed with the way Janet Gurtler wrote Sam's character. Aside from being relatable, I found every little thing Sam did to be realistic. It's how I would imagine myself handling the situation. Beyond Sam's character, I found the whole book to be realistic. Even the kiss, though it sounds far fetched, seems like something you might see on the news these days. Nut allergies are on the rise and the debate over what to do about it - ban nuts from schools? ostracize the allergic kids to a separate table? - brings a fiery passion from both sides of the debate.
I'm not going to lie - until I read this book, I was one of those people who thought nut allergies was no big deal. I didn't think peanut butter should be banned from schools because of it, but now I've done almost a one-eighty on the issue. Absolutely ban peanut butter from schools if it will ensure a life is saved. No kid is that picky that they will only eat peanut butter, and if they are it's your responsibility as a parent to broaden their food horizons. Leave the PB for the weekends. Thankfully, there is research going on regarding peanut allergies. According to the author, a vaccine is the the works and I've seen a few stories on the news in the past year about progress being made with exposure therapy. Perhaps someday this won't even be an issue, but in the meantime Who I Kissed is an excellent example of a young adult novel taking on a serious issue head on.
Also, let me just note without being spoiler-ish: there's a surprise ending that I loved.
Five stars - this book was amazing, realistic, enthralling, and really brings to light the debate about peanuts. I read the whole thing in one night, and I would have done it in one sitting if I could have. Please don't pass off Who I Kissed as contemporary fluff based off the cover and please give it a read. I guarantee you'll enjoy it.