Cait’s ARC Review of “I Kissed Shara Wheeler” by Casey McQuiston

By: Cait Marie

Blurb

From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need…

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.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

Review

*I received a free advanced copy of this audiobook through Libro.fm.**

I honestly think I would read Casey McQuiston’s grocery list at this point. Every single book has just been amazing, and I Kissed Shara Wheeler is no exception. McQuiston is easily becoming one of my absolute favorite authors. I was extremely excited to get this early audiobook!

This one is young adult, so the tone is a little different than their other books, but they did wonderfully. It really hit the genre perfectly and felt natural. I’ve read a few YA books recently that felt as if the authors were trying to hard, making it obvious they’re much older than the audience. That was NOT the case here. Everything flowed well, and it wasn’t infused with a whole bunch of modern lingo to try to make it sound the right age.

This book had the typical humor and sarcasm I’ve come to expect from McQuiston, as well as the meaningful messages about the LGBTQ+ community. It also had a bit of mystery to it as the main character, Chloe, teams up with a couple other students to try to find the missing Shara Wheeler. AKA the community’s most perfect person, who’s hiding a bunch of secrets. And Chloe’s rival who kissed her right before disappearing.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It kept me reading/listening well into the night because I was just as invested in finding Shara as Chloe and her new friends. The character development was fantastic, and not even just for Chloe. The side characters were amazing as well. In particular, I loved Smith, the star quarterback with his own secrets. Honestly, I was more into the story for Chloe’s growing friendship with Smith and Rory than anything.

Everyone has all these secrets that they cannot share because of their extremely religious, conservative community. But once they start being revealed, it gives courage to others. Without giving anything away, something happens near the end that makes a bunch of students with not a lot in common stand together, and it’s a very beautiful thing.

I highly recommend this book! It was fun, moving, and relatable on many levels, even for older readers. I’m nearing 31 and absolutely loved it. McQuiston knocked another one out of the park, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

I will say, some of the audiobook narration wasn’t my favorite. It was great overall, and it didn’t impact the story, but I wasn’t fond of how the narrator read some of the male characters’ dialogue. Some of it felt a little awkward, and I think it changed how I might have read those characters otherwise. Again, it didn’t truly impact the story, but it did make me annoyed with a couple people I probably would’ve loved in the print/eBook version.

**I get a free audiobook anytime someone uses my Libro.fm referral link above to start their own membership.

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