Release Date: June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
17 First Kisses is an interesting book. The thing is, your enjoyment of this novel almost entirely hinges on the way you interpret this. You can either see this as petty, pointless drama or an in-depth examination of a friendship. Personally, I saw this book as the latter, but I know plenty of people who think it’s the former.
17 First Kisses is told in “the present” and flashbacks to all of Claire’s kisses. In the present, Claire meets a boy named Luke. She feels she has a lot in common with him, and she’s taking a liking to him. The only problem? So has her friend, Megan. The flashbacks deal with all of Claire’s kisses: some uncomfortable, some enjoyable, some the kind you’d rather forget immediately. Hearing all this, it probably seems that 17 First Kisses is about romance, romance and romance. But the thing is, it’s not. The one thread through all of these pieces of present and past is friends. Claire has a few friends, but the book mostly focuses on her best friend Megan.
The friendship between Claire and Megan is so unique and so undeniably real. They know each other through and through, but it’s not all perfect. They obviously love each other and take care of each other, but Claire is still jealous of Megan sometimes, or annoyed by her. As is Megan by Claire. Again, you could be bored by this friendship while reading. Petty drama. But I just found it to be so incredibly real. Most friendships aren’t perfect. No matter how much you care for each other, there will be annoyances and bad days, but also shared moments and support.
Over the course of the novel, their friendship almost shatters, builds up again, almost shatters… And maybe builds up again, maybe not. You’ll have to see for yourself. Despite the little annoyances, the thing that almost breaks them up is a boy. You might roll your eyes at that (I won’t judge you if you do), but in 17 First Kisses it’s brought in a believable way. Though I wish it would be otherwise, boys can come between friendships. What’s truly magnificent about this story, though, is the messages within 17 First Kisses. To name a few: having sex is not a bad thing. Abusive relationships are. You should never be forced to do something. Having sex, with your boyfriend or otherwise, does not make you a slut.
And yes, there is slut-shaming in this book, quite a lot. It’s not the main character who does that – she’s the victim. Believe me, I despise slut-shaming. I absolutely hate it. But 17 First Kisses attaches a message to it, a message I can stand behind. Slut-shaming isn’t seen as something normal or even good. It’s used to show how ridiculous it really is.
If you are looking for a cute romance… I guess I can say you’ll find one in 17 First Kisses. It’s not at all what the book is about, though. This is a novel about friendships; how they can change over the years, how they can be broken and built back up, and how important they are. This is a novel about choosing yourself over others when you need to. This is a novel about boys, but mainly about the impact they can have on your life. This is a book where it doesn’t really matter whether the main character ends up with the guy or not, because that’s not at all what it’s about.
~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me a review copy!~
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