Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
Release Date – October 1, 2012
Publisher Website –  Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages - 312 pages
My Rating- 3/5
**Provided by publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
She Never Thought A Kiss Could Kill. . . 
Samantha is new at school and just recently joined the swim team. She’s been flirting with one of her teammates, Zee, who invites her to a party and just as quickly dumps her for another girl. Hurt, but pretending not to care, she turns to his best friend, Alex, and gives him a kiss. And he dies—right in her arms. Alex was allergic to peanuts, and Samantha had eaten a peanut butter sandwich right before the party. She didn’t know. Overnight, Samantha turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she will have to find the inner-strength to forgive herself for the tragedy.
Samantha has always been a “good girl”. She gets good grades, is one of the top swimmers in her school, and doesn’t kiss random boys. One night changes everything for her when in a moment of anger she decides to kiss a boy she just started talking to. Samantha’s life quickly changes when the boy dies after kissing her from an allergic reaction/asthma attack. Her journey of self forgiveness is touching, but more light hearted than I was expecting.

The character of Samantha is well written. She is relatable and always felt like a real teenager. The crippling grief that consumes her after Alex’s death is understandable. Samantha’s self hatred, and need to be punished for what she sees as unforgivable leads to a downward spiral of destructive behaviour. I felt connected to her, and wanted to see her a reach a place of forgiveness for herself.

The entire cast of characters is pretty realistic. The anger, grief, and disbelief resonated deeply. Each of the characters deals with the loss in their own way, and each takes their own journey out of the darkness.  The notion of self forgiveness is handled beautifully, and the significance of that step is shown.

The comedic relief comes from Samantha’s Aunt Allie. A spiritual free spirit with a sweet Chiwawa. She’s spunky, and funny.

The relationship between Samantha and her father was wonderful. A relationship that showed each as an individual who makes mistakes, while showing that love that knits families together. It was refreshing in YA to see such a strong portrayal of a father/daughter dynamic.

This novel does come off much lighter than you might expect. The over all message is not one of sadness, but rather education and working through grief.  However, this lightness caused a bit of a disconnect with me. The events of the story are so crushing for the main character, that the lighter tone took me out of the feelings I was having. It’s a small thing and may not distract for others, but I found it noticeable.

The author’s main goal, through this novel, is to raise awareness. The danger of a potential second hand reaction is scary, and I would bet it doesn’t cross a lot of people’s minds. Those not living with a serve allergy (either themselves or someone close to them) may not recognize this as a risk in public places. The novel is successful in making you think, and consider this type of situation.

A thought provoking novel that shines light on a danger that is given very little attention. The story was ultimately touching, but just didn’t resonate as strongly as I wished it would have.


  1. I really like the sound of this story, and I have it sitting on my shelf to read at some point. I like the idea of the character dealing with the grief and the guilt of it being her fault. The thing that scares me is the lightness of the story, I was hoping it would be a little more heavy hitting. I think I'll give it a try at some point though. Great review!

  2. I've always been curious about this one, but didn't pick it up yet because I thought it sounds a little bit too depressing. And hearing that it's lighter than one would think makes me either want to read it immediately or never pick it up because that lightness might not really reflect the serious topic. :( Very unsure.
    But I'm glad you liked it. Thanks a lot for your honesty!


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