Review: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

What a delight is I Kissed Shara Wheeler, a romantic comedy set in a very religious school and town in modern day Alabama. Chloe Green has always been an outsider in Willowgrove, the girl from LA with two mothers (who are very married, and very much in love,) who survives her days at her deeply religious high school by befriending other misfits, and by doing her damndest to outshine the school principal's perfect, popular prom queen daughter, Shara. Then, on the day of the school prom, Shara unexpectedly kisses Chloe and before she runs away from home. Then, it turns out that Chloe wasn't the only person Shara kissed. There's also Rory, the rich kid turned rebel, and Smith, the captain of the football team. And when Shara starts sending the three of them notes, with all kinds of clues about her disappearance, the three of them find themselves thrown into an unlikely friendship ...

This was an entertaining read from start to finish. Chloe and Shara are a formidable pair of foes, each secretly loving and hating one another with equal measure. There's a lot of depth to their relationship and individual situations which I really appreciate. I also loved Rory and Smith's backstory, the friends who were torn apart by high school and the pressures of well, high school life. And while there is a strong religious element to the novel, McQuiston deftly avoids writing anything that criticises religion itself, keeping the satire to the levels of human hypocrisy and misinterpretations. Parts of the novel are a little reminiscent of Paper Towns by John Green, but not in an annoying way or a way that made me guess what was going to happen next. I admit, I did roll my eyes a little when it became obvious early on what the future held in store for Smith and Rory, but that particular plot is sweet enough.



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