I Kissed Shara Wheeler
by Casey McQuiston
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Pub Date 03 May 2022 | Archive Date 17 May 2022
St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books
*INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*
*INSTANT #1 INDIE BESTSELLER*
*INSTANT USA TODAY BESTSELLER*
From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a 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 the puritanical administration of 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.
"An unfettered joy to read." - The New York Times
"McQuiston has done it again." - USA Today
"You won't want to miss." - Good Housekeeping
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 912 members
IKSW has everything I’ve come to love and hope for from a Casey McQuiston novel. Poignant, cutting, hilarious, overall perfect. Chloe is basically the 17-year-old version of Alex from RWRB, Shara is complex as hell, and I cannot stress how much I absolutely love the dynamic of Chloe and Rory and Smith. Characters, plot, and the balance of touching and humorous all on point.
One of the best YA contemporaries that I've read in a while!
Casey McQuiston's signature wit, humor, and lovable characters translate flawlessly into YA storytelling. This book was funny and heartfelt and an absolute page turner. I loved it!
The plot's concept is pretty similar to John Green's Paper Towns, but the characters and themes are so different that it never feels like it's trying to be anything other than itself. Where Paper Towns focuses less on personal identity and more on the importance of imagining other people complexly, I Kissed Shara Wheeler delves into identity, how places shape us, how hard it is to be authentic and recognize authenticity when stuck in a place that demands uniformity. Chloe has great development, and I love how we get to see her learn that her confidence comes across as spiky toward others who are just doing their best. She learns that her walls keep her safe, but they also stop her from seeing others clearly; she wants people to know what she's dealing with, but she doesn't want to tell them, and she doesn't want to make herself vulnerable enough to see how others feel.
The cast of characters, as expected, is utterly delightful. McQuiston is uniquely good at crafting great supporting characters, and that's on full display here. Everyone gets a chance to be funny, to be layered, to have a secret. Smith and Ace are my personal favorite side characters, they're so wonderfully himbo-esque.
A lot of YA contemporaries struggle with dialogue and slang and how the youths talk, but McQuiston nails it every time. These characters are funny and witty and occasionally stupid, all in ways that feel authentic.
As a queer person who also grew up in the south and went to a Christian school, so many of the details in how Chloe is treated really hit home. It felt honest, even in the most frustrating moment. And I also appreciated how McQuiston made Chloe face the idea that not all faith looks like that! It can be easy to paint with broad strokes when the bad guys are religious, but it's important to remember that us vs them mentality isn't accurate or fair.
Overall, a delightful step into YA. Funny and heartfelt and had me grinning the whole time.
i have spent days straight internally screaming about this book.
thank you wednesday books for sending me an e-arc!
there is so much to love about this novel that it's difficult to find a place to start.
i kissed shara wheeler delivered every aspect that you’d expect from a casey mcquiston novel:
- a chaotic bisexual protagonist
- a whole cast of charming queer characters with great chemistry
- a fast-paced plot that you can completely lose yourself in
- multiple i-have-to-put-my-book-down-to-process moments
this novel follows chloe green, an intense and unruly force of a teenage girl that you can’t help but root for as she attempts to claw her way to valedictorian before the end of her senior year. she joins forces with an unlikely group to search for shara wheeler, their small town’s golden girl and chloe’s number one competition, who mysteriously vanishes after prom.
unlike the friends in casey’s previous novels, chloe, smith, and rory are not a tight-knit group. they have history, resentment, and emotional baggage among them that makes their common mission an entertaining journey. i highly enjoyed the amount of banter and insults and was fully invested in their chaos.
i think mcquiston does well at illustrating the underlying beauty and charm of a small southern town, without asking readers to forgive any of its hatred or homophobia. it becomes a journey of acceptance for chloe that furthers her character development. and as someone who is also from california, and would often rather pretend that the south doesn’t exist, this aspect really resonated with me. the vivid description in many scenes was so well-written. it created a unique small-town energy that actually made me want to be in alabama for the first time in my life.
with tons of amazing rep, this novel highlights the life and joy queer communities can form, despite being in a tiny, conservative town. it displayed queer characters at every point in their process of self-discovery in such an impactful and genuine way. i think this novel will mean the world to a lot of young queer people.
i kissed shara wheeler is delightful, amusing, and heartfelt. it’s a novel that i will not easily forget. i absolutely loved this book and really would not change a thing about it.
Casey McQuiston did it again with I Kissed Shara Wheeler. I don't know how they managed to write a novel even better than the last (bc OLS was 😍😍) but I'm here for it. It's timeless and funny and smart and just overall feel good. The thing I love about McQuiston is their ability to not only create deep, complex protagonists but also well-founded secondary characters who you end up loving almost as much. The entire time I read, it felt like I was transported back to an early 2000's rom-com....but with a queer twist. I can't wait for others to get their hands on this book and to see what McQuiston does next.
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