Review: Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler + Guest Post!

Book Reviews

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

4 Stars

I was both nervous and really interested to read Who I Kissed just after reading what this book was about. A girl kisses a boy to make the one she likes jealous and he dies because of what you had as a snack? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into what appeared to be an emotional book. I’m glad I decided to just go with it.

While Who I Kissed is an emotional book, I never felt like it was dragging me down into some dark hole. It deals a lot with grieving and guilt, and with making not so right decisions, but it gives a sense that things will look up soon. That this is just a rough patch.

I liked the story very much. It opened my world up to how serious a food allergy can be. Not that I didn’t think it wasn’t serious before I read this, but not having anyone in my life having to deal with such issues didn’t really put it in perspective for me. I now feel a little more educated. Thank you, Janet Gurtler. I was so glad that this book didn’t turn into a witch hunt story though, where Sam is ostracized for what happened with Alex. I don’t think I could’ve handled people not seeing this for what it was, a horrible accident.

I enjoyed the characters as well. I wasn’t a fan of Sam’s decisions most of the time, but I can understand why they happened. I was just glad she came around in the end. I enjoyed Sam’s dad and aunt a lot, and it was nice seeing family so involved in the main character’s life. The romance was a little rocky in this one, but it was to be expected due to the circumstances.

All in all, I really liked this book. It reminded me of Sarah Dessen’s books a little bit, which is always a very good thing, as I love Sarah Dessen. This won’t be the last I read of Janet Gurtler either. I plan to pick up her other books soon.

Now check out Janet’s wonderful guest post below, where she explores her inspiration for the book and her character development of a girl who has to learn to forgive herself for a tragic mistake that upends so many lives.

Book Info

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: October 1st 2012
Pages: 320
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: ContemporaryRomanceYoung Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads

She never thought a kiss could kill…

Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in…And she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms.

Sam is now the school pariah and a media sensation. Consumed with guilt, she’ll have to find strength that goes way deeper than the fastest time in the 200–meter butterfly. Because if she can’t figure out how to forgive herself, no one else will either.

Guest Post

Coming Up for Air

I haven’t made a secret of the fact that this book was inspired by my son, Max, a cool dude who happens to have a severe peanut allergy. This book takes my worst fears and puts them it into action. I used to joke with Max that before he kisses a girl, he has to ask her what she had for lunch. Or dinner. He doesn’t find it funny anymore.

We did have a talk when I decided to write this book. I told him that though it was fiction, it was partly to raise awareness of the dangers that kids with allergies face. And I told him of course, that it was something I never ever wanted to him to deal with. So no kissing girls. Ever. Ha ha. Not really the last part. He didn’t find that funny either.

Long before the character of Sam came to life for me, I remember hearing a story in the news, similar to the storyline in WHO I KISSED, about a child dying from a ‘peanut butter kiss’. It stuck with me as a parent of a peanut allergy kid. How horrifying it would be for everyone. Including the child who accidentally caused a death. I also remember hearing a story about a kid at a birthday party who died when the knife used to cut the cake (peanut free cake) was tainted with peanut butter. I don’t know if that story was true, but when you have a child with allergies those types of things make an impression.

As a parent of a kid with severe food allergies, you get used to people who don’t understand the severity of the allergy. People who complain about not being able to take a peanut butter sandwich to a peanut free school when it is “all their child will eat.” On one level, I totally get that. Confession. I LOVE peanut butter. But on the other hand, something innocent has the potential to cause my child harm, or even cause death and I don’t want to let that happen. I’ve had to shake off my loathing to make people uncomfortable. I have to speak up. I understand that most people don’t mean harm when they send a peanut butter sandwich to school or open a bag of peanuts beside me in the airport. But I have to ask them to put away peanuts or nuts when my son is around. Or to ask their kids to wash their hands after eating something with nuts before playing with my son.

My strongest argument for why other people should care is — how would YOU feel if your child (or you) caused the death of my son. I know I would feel pretty darn awful (to put it mildly), but what would it do to your child and/or you? How could a child possibly deal with something like that? How could a parent possibly deal with their role in something like that? And the thing is, it’s possible.

It’s about taking ownership of that possibility, but also dealing with the consequences of a very honest mistake. WHO I KISSED looks at how an innocent girl, who unwillingly and unknowingly is involved in the death of a boy who dies. A boy who is allergic to peanuts. It’s about thinking how that would affect you? How would you cope? What would you do?

Ultimately, like most of the books I write, I think there’s also hope in this book. And some lighter moments too. I created two characters, Aunt Allie and Fredrick to help Samantha deal and also to help the reader deal with the emotional intensity of the book. Plus there’s hot boys. I like them too.



Jess @ Gone with the Words

6 Responses to “Review: Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler + Guest Post!”

  1. Avatar

    Estelle / Rather Be Reading

    Is it mean that this premise sounds a little corny and crazy to me? Sort of like the cases on Grey’s Anatomy that are all so severe and unique and then you find out they really happened? It just seems so silly. Which makes me feel bad because well, someone in this book died because of this silly thing that other people wouldn’t think about.

    Now that I’m done sounding like a nutcase. I’m glad that you liked this book, and felt you got something out of it. I really like that this review is supplemented with a guest post from the author too. The fact that the storyline is personal to her, also affects how it’s written.

    So hmm. I think I really need to pick this up. It’s nice to have a unique premise in a genre with many repeated plots.

  2. Avatar

    Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books

    I did like the fact that this book touched upon something I personally deal with (food allergies), but I did think the premise was… unique. It was a pretty good read, though I don’t think I truly fell in love with it the way I do with most of Sarah Dessen’s books!

  3. Avatar

    Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)

    There was a kid I know that sat beside another kid at a baseball game we went to and kid #2 opened up a bag of peanuts (baseball, peanuts, right?) – well, kid #1 ended up in the hospital because just miniscule amount of the DUST from the peanuts blew up from the bag when it opened and closed up his airways.

    Also, my husband has several food allergies. One is walnuts. And it isn’t only food. He bought a piece of wood, very pretty with a pretty pattern in the grain, so he could build a guitar. When he started sanding the wood, the dust closed up his airways. Same deal. We had to have someone remove the wood from our house – I didn’t do it so the dust wouldn’t get on me or my clothes and then me accidentally track it into the house.

    Neither situation ended up in death, thankfully, but everywhere I go, every day, I’m always looking in everything (probably OVERLY so) to check the ingredients. When people invite us over for dinner, I always have to check to see what ingredients they put into their meals, things like that. (It embarrasses Mike so much but I’d rather have him alive.) I GET this book.

    To me, this topic isn’t corny at all, but that is because I can understand it and fear it just like this author. Just similar life circumstances, I suppose. Great post.

  4. Avatar

    kay @ Infinite Curio

    I hadn’t heard of this one before now, but the premise is interesting. I’ll forever have the memory of this kid in middle school who had to sit by himself in an empty classroom with his lunch, because of his allergy. These can be intense! I’ll definitely put it on my wishlist.

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