October 4, 2012

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 312
Series: n/a
Review Source: ARC from author

Synopsis: (from 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.

Was she really the only person in the entire school who didn’t know about his peanut allergy? Or that eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing him would be deadly? Overnight Sam turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she’ll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.

My Thoughts:
Right from the beginning I knew this book would be tough to read, but I love Janet Gurtler’s writing style, and I was also intrigued by the plot. The overall arching concept reminds me of ‘Kiss Me, Kill Me’, but they definitely differ in execution.

I think what Janet Gurtler does best in her writing is get you wrapped up in her characters, and even in the setting. I always feel like these are real people with real stories to tell, and therefore the emotions of the characters hit you even harder. In this case I obviously felt for Sam as she had to deal with guilt and reactions from her classmates for something that she couldn’t truly be held accountable for. I also loved the character of Zee, and his relationship with Sam was so sweet to read about (I also totally get the jelly belly swag Janet has now! ;)).

One other thing about Janet’s books that I appreciate is they always make me think about deeper issues. In ‘I’m Not Her’ we see family dynamics and how illness affects family members, and while reading ‘If I Tell’ I thought a lot about self-esteem and racial identify. Here in ‘Who I Kissed’ we read about a tragic accident and the loss of an awesome person because of a couple of different things that could have or should have been done. It also brings up the peanut debate in schools, and how serious food allergies can be.

If I had one complaint about ‘Who I Kissed’ it’s that there are almost too many different issues going on. At times it felt like a bit too much drama, with the history of Sam’s mom, dealing with Casper, the one part with the dog (but omigosh the dog - so cute; and I’m glad I’m not the only one who has different voices for their pets, even if I do share the trait with a kooky aunt), and then the overarching loss of Alex. I know in a way they were all connected, so it wasn’t a huge bother, but it did seem like a lot packed into one small book.

Overall I really do love Janet Gurtler’s writing, and I’ll gladly pick up her books in the future. There’s just something in the tone of her writing that I enjoy so much. I’d recommend her books to YA contemporary fans, especially if you enjoy Denise Jaden, Deb Caletti, and/or Elizabeth Scott. One other great thing about this book? There was a tiny cameo of characters from ‘If I Tell’! It’s so much fun when authors do this!

The Cover:
It's pretty, like all Janet's covers are.


Find Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.


  1. I admit I passed on this book because I read If I tell last year and I wasn't really impressed by it, but you intrigue me with this Dog thing. I need to check that out!

    Thanks for the review.

    1. Ha! I don't know, I'm just obsessed with people making up voices for their pets. It is such a random thing for me to pull from this book, but it really did amuse me. =b

  2. I think it takes something special to write about this kind of topic, and I'm glad to hear Janet Gurtler delivered! Character-driven stories are usually my favourite, especially when they work in deeper issues like those you mentioned. Then again, these kind of emotionally-heavy books sometimes reduce me to quivering wrecks, so I'm not sure I have the constitution to read Who I Kissed... but if I do, I'll keep your words in mind. :)

    1. I don't tend to like books that are all sadness and heaviness, so you should definitely give this one or Janet's other books a shot. They're emotional, for sure, but there's always hope.

  3. This is part of a series, isn't it? I know I've seen this style cover around. Sounds very cute (even with all the issues within the story)!

    1. It's actually not... for some reason Janet's books have the same circle theme, but they're actually all standalones.

  4. Great review, Ashley! I really liked this one, too -- and learned that the author is a local one for me!

    I like the cover, too -- very simple!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I've got this one sitting on my bed side table, patiently waiting its turn. You may have just bumped it up the list a bit.



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