I KISSED SHARA WHEELER is Casey McQuiston’s first YA romance, and I loved it just as much as their adult novels. In classic Casey fashion, this book was so readable that once I got about 50 pages in, there was no stopping me and I read the whole thing in one sitting. Shara and Chloe are absolutely iconic and have redefined rivals-to-lovers in this glorious rom-com.
Thanks to Macmillan for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
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.
What did I think?
I think the best way to explain how I felt about this book is this screenshot:
I was absolutely giddy by the end of this book because I was just having so much fun. I loved Red, White and Royal Blue so much, and while I absolutely loved One Last Stop I was missing the snarkiness of early Henry/Alex. That sass is back with a vengeance in I Kissed Shara Wheeler and I am completely in love with all of the characters in this book. When I started, I was a little nervous about the Smith, Rory, Chloe thing because I don’t usually like ‘competing for love’ as a trope. Let’s just say that that is not what’s going on here and I should never have doubted Casey McQuiston. Rory and Smith are as much my faves as Chloe and Shara, and I am in awe of Casey McQuiston’s ever perfect supporting casts.
The premise of this book is that Shara Wheeler, popular prom queen and perfect girl, kisses her boyfriend, the boy next door and Chloe, her rival, and disappears. All she leaves behind are cryptic notes with clues leading to more clues all guiding them to find her. And with each clue, there is more of Shara’s hidden side revealed. I absolutely loved it. The notes were fun, I found myself piecing together the clues along with the ‘I kissed Shara Wheeler’ group chat, and I loved the way we got to see more and more of Shara with each page. I think the friendships are my favourite part. Seeing these disparate and cliquey groups come together gave me huge found family vibes, and my queer ass wanted to adopt the entire cast and feed them cookies. Also, Chloe’s moms? Aspirational. Queer icons.
Can’t review a rom-com without talking about the romance, and in this book we’ve got Shara and Chloe. I won’t talk too much about it because this book is best discovered unspoiled, but if you love rivals-to-lovers and snarky competitive girls, you will love them. They’re both disaster queers and I couldn’t help but laugh at their ridiculous teenager antics to outmatch each other at school. I laughed at a lot of things in this book, actually, with classically hilarious Casey McQuiston prose and a lot of jokes and references that had me cackling.
The town, and school, that the book is set in is a small and heavily religious town and Casey McQuiston examines the best and worst parts of small-town life throughout this book, as Chloe is forced to reexamine her assumptions about small town Alabama and the people who live there. Somehow this book made me nostalgic for teenage years – even though I hated mine – while still giving me the fight-the-world feelings that RWRB gave me. It was a heady mix and when I finished the last page I had to lie down for a hot minute and think about my life.
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Release Date: 12th May 2022