Chloe Green is so close to becoming valedictorian at Willowgrove. But when her arch-nemesis, Shara Wheeler runs away weeks before their graduation ceremony, Chloe is determined to not win by default and make Shara attend their graduation.
It just so happens that Shara has bigger plans for her. Through a series of clues left behind, Chloe and two others get closer to finding Shara and the truth about themselves they’ve been denying all this while.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler is a YA LGBTQIA+ contemporary novel set in a small town in Alabama.
It addresses issues of homophobia and religious extremism with the same sensitivity that it accords the storylines of diverse characters in the novel. In Casey McQuiston’s writing, every character matters. You know that they aren’t just there to be foils or push the subplots forward.
I loved reading about Rory, Georgia, Chloe’s mums, Smith, and many other characters. There’s so much to learn from their journeys.
Moreover, I’m still just as fond of books with a scavenger hunt. This one executes that element pretty well.
To think that one-third of the way in, I was actually getting a little disappointed, and I thought this would be an average read because I wasn’t a fan of the whole “popular girl runs away” trope. It reminded me too much of John Green’s Paper Towns and Sara Barnard’s Goodbye, Perfect.
These are books I liked a great deal when I read them several years ago. But I don’t particularly care for such plot points now.
Plus, I didn’t really like Chloe’s character all that much.
But after having been super impressed by McQuiston’s One Last Stop, I should’ve known the author is beyond talented in her ability to create heartfelt, meaningful stories.
What started out as three students, who in an alternate universe would probably not have been friends, chasing clues to find Shara quickly turns into this jubilant acceptance and celebration of the self.
A lot of it took me back to my high school days and the things that mattered to us then.
That’s the beauty of Casey McQuiston’s stories. They are relatable, inspiring, and just bursting with life. Her writing style in this novel is full of a flair for the dramatic and humorous. I found myself chuckling along quite a bit.
Also, Mr Truman would’ve made for a great literature teacher. And that speech at the end by Chloe? WONDERFUL.
On the whole, there are a couple of aspects of the book I didn’t particularly like. But there’s so much more that I loved! Highly highly recommend this if you enjoy reading YA contemporary books.
Note – I received an ALC of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.