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Who I Kissed

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Janet Gurtler's latest contemporary YA novel is by turns gripping, heart-wrenching, and joyous as one teen girl has to find the courage to carry on after a devastating tragedy.

She never thought a kiss could kill...

As the new girl in town, Samantha just wants to fit in. Being invited to a party by her fellow swim team members is her big chance...especially since Zee will be there. He hasn't made a secret of checking her out at the pool. Sam didn't figure on Alex being there too. She barely even knows him. And she certainly didn't plan to kiss him. It just kind of happened.

And then Alex dies—right in her arms...

Consumed by guilt and grief, Sam has no idea what to do or where to turn when everyone at school blames her. What follows is Sam's honest, raw, and unforgettable journey to forgive herself and find balance—maybe even love—in a life that suddenly seems to be spinning out of control.

320 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2012

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About the author

Janet Gurtler

32 books655 followers
A Rita Award Finalist, Janet Gurtler's young adult books have been chosen for the JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION and as BEST BOOKS FOR TEENS from the Canadian Children’s Book Center. Janet lives in Okotoks Alberta, Canada with her husband, son, a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce and a blonde golden retriever named Betty White.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 197 reviews
Profile Image for Janet.
Author 32 books655 followers
June 1, 2016
I wrote it, so yeah, I do love it. It's an emotional book for me and I'm glad I got the chance to write it.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews732 followers
January 8, 2013
3.5 stars

Who I Kissed is a book which brings to the forefront just how dangerous allergies can be. Alex in this book suffers from a nut allergy, not knowing this Sam kisses him after eating a peanut butter sandwich, consequently he has a anaphylactic reaction and dies, just that brief kiss, and what a kiss it was, was all Alex needed to have that reaction.

I have a family of allergy sufferers, my sister has a coeliac condition, so she can’t eat wheat, my cousin has a peanut allergy which I only recently found out about when my sister accidently gave him chocolate and hazelnut cookies and my aunt has a allergy to milk. More and more allergies are becoming widespread, by looking at someone you wouldn’t be able to tell they have a certain type of allergy. Like with my cousin he was lucky as there was only a miniscule amount of hazelnut in the cookie he ate, he quickly noticed a tingling in his throat whilst he was eating it and asked what was in it. Like Alex in Who I Kissed he wasn’t carrying his EpiPen with him otherwise who knows what could have happened.

Unfortunately for Sam she just found herself in the wrong situation, and without Alex’s EpiPen around there was nothing anyone could do. Sam had to deal with the aftermath of being labelled a killer and had to deal with the constant peanut butter jokes, she got to the point where she felt she wasn’t entitled to live her own life because Alex wasn’t able to either, she quit swimming something she was really talented at and completely withdrew from social situations and her close friends. Sam didn’t deserve to be put in this situation and no one should be allowed to feel so persecuted. Like I said before by looking at my cousin, sister or aunt you wouldn’t know they suffered from an allergy unless they wore a badge announcing it. So I really disliked the way Sam was ridiculed and it actually got to the point where she felt she deserved all the blame. Luckily for Sam she had a strong social group who were constantly there for her, backing her the entire way, her dad and aunt who constantly encouraged her not to give up, and her best friend Taylor who didn’t drop her as soon as the news came out. Without this group I think that Sam would have crumpled. I think anyone would have.

Gurtler did a brilliant job with Who I Kissed; she was able to raise awareness of just how important it is to know if a person is suffering from an allergy and the necessary precautions that should be taken. Who I Kissed was a powerful poignant read, and with Gurtler adding her own personal experience to the story it was made even more realistic.
Profile Image for Paige Bradish.
336 reviews10 followers
December 22, 2012
I read and am reviewing Who I Kissed from Around The World ARC Tours for an honest review.

I didn't realize how deep Who I Kissed would actually go! It's a story of a girl named Samantha and she's a swimmer. One night while at a party her crush Zee abandons her to make out with another girl so she decides see wants to get back at him by making out with someone else. Unfortunately she chooses the wrong guy. Reason being because the guy she kissed Alex has a peanut allergy and she had a peanut butter sandwich just before going to this party. Crazy right?

The night Alex dies is the worst night of Sam's life because she believes this is all her fault. But thankfully she has her best friend Taylor her dad and her aunt Allie to help get here through this. That's what the whole book is basically about Sam getting through her guilt and getting through losing some friends and being bullied. Sam's character is the good girl so you'd think that nothing like this would happen to someone like her, but it did.

My favorite character though was Aunt Allie, Just because she was so caring and crazy at the same time. She believes in like fortune telling and hand readings and spirits and things like that which some people would probably think is weird but I really liked that about her and I liked that Sam accepted her aunt for who she is she didn't call her crazy all the time like her dad did.

The plot was really interesting and deep like I said before. There isn't many YA books based solely on a peanut allergy so having a book that is for once is good because it's good to let the world know that there are severe peanut allergies out their and people do need to be careful! Even though this was a fiction story it was very eye opening and it could be very real that's why I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars!
Profile Image for Kat (Lost in Neverland).
445 reviews699 followers
May 11, 2013
Oh my god.
I have a peanut/any kind of nut allergy. That would really suck if my boyfriend kissed me right after he ate a hazelnut sandwich and I died. O_o


ZOMG, IT'S SO CREEPY. HEHEHEHE.


After Finishing

Sam just wants to fit in. She's one of the best swimmers at her new school and crushing on the totally hot Zee, who also happens to be one of the best swimmers in school.
When Sam's invited to Taylor's senior swimmers-only party, she goes only because Zee might be there. At first, everything is awkward and she feels out of place, but Zee takes her outside and the night suddenly seems perfect. Then, prettier and bitchier Kaitlin takes Zee away and starts making out with him, and he doesn't do anything to stop her.
Left alone and humiliated, Sam meets a cute boy named Alex. On an impulsive whim, she kisses him in an attempt to make Zee jealous.
And then he's dying and everyone's screaming and saying he's allergic to peanuts and that he needs his Epi-pen. And it just so happens the sandwich Sam had eaten before the party was a peanut butter sandwich.

Sam is left to deal with the consequences of killing a boy she barely knew and the horrific guilt she feels and hate everyone at school gives her.

I should really not read contemporary YA books anymore. It's bad for my health.

So, let's look at the things I liked about the novel.
I liked how the story didn't focus only on friends and boyfriends, but also with family issues. A lot of YA fiction nowadays tends to leave parents or siblings in the dust while throwing all this romance crap at you. Not so with this book. Sam's father holds a big place in her life and as does his sister, Aunt Annie, who helps bring her back to reality after what happened.

I also liked how Sam was a swimmer, which is a pretty unique talent for book main characters.

The fact that I also have a nut allergy (not really peanuts but other kinds like hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.) made me pick this book up in the first place. It was a very cool concept, a boy dying from a nut allergy after a girl kisses him, but not executed very well.

Now let's move onto the not so good factors of the book.

The writing was choppy. The characters were supposed to be 17 years old but I kept seeing them as fifteen year olds or younger. Maybe because the writing felt almost childish to me or because Sam was a very childish character.

Sam...

description

There were so many times where I wanted to smack her for her stupidity. Sam had the tragic, and typical, case of having low self esteem and blushing at almost everything anyone said to her. She even had the audacity to say she 'hated' a girl, only because she was prettier than her.

Yes, she makes mistakes. Yes, she learns from them. That's great. Still, she seemed far too young to be a 17 year old. She wouldn't have made the damn mistakes in the first place if she had just been smarter.

The story had some pretty decent side characters. I liked Taylor (the girl who Sam hated at first sight because of the pretty factor). Taylor proved to be an actual friend to Sam. This goes to show you can't judge people on their looks alone. Sam had a problem with that.

Zee was an okay love interest, although I really didn't care for him.
Aunt Annie and Sam's dad were good side characters as well. Aunt Annie was good-natured and funny, her dad was annoying at first but he got better as the story went on.

A lot of things about this book were just 'good'. Unfortunately, never 'great'.
I felt that the ending was one of those endings where everything works out and everyone's happy and yay-happy-rainbows-and-unicorns.

Okay, it's not all happy. Alex is still dead.

But other than that, everything works out, yay!

description
Profile Image for BookCupid.
985 reviews67 followers
May 10, 2016
Let's be honest, we've all kissed someone we wish we hadn't. But in Sam's case, she wins by a long shot. Imagine the shock, her kiss ended a boy's life.

The whole town is enraged when Sam kissed peanut allergy prone Alex, and caused his death. Schools start banning peanuts, her locker and home are vandalized, and almost everyone wishes Sam would disappear. How can she cope with so much grief?

Gurtler has a way with realistic narration. Her indulgence to include the character's families into the mix, and even more so, to make them grow throughout the story makes her book worthwhile. Frankly, Sam needed to toughen up. Her self-esteem was so low, she'd go for any guy who would approach her. Those are the kisses we most regret.
Profile Image for Tee loves Kyle Jacobson.
2,471 reviews169 followers
August 8, 2012
Who I Kissed is one of those EPIC books where you read it and at the end you say HOLY COW! I am so grateful that I was able to read this ARC through Around The World ARC Tours because this book when it comes out on October 01, 2012 I am going to the store to buy it. That is how GREAT it was that I need a copy for my library.

Have you ever known some who is allergic to Peanuts or Shellfish? I do and let me tell you something it is the SCARIEST thing to witness them go into an allergic shock from whatever it is they ate of drank. My aunt almost lost her life and was in the hospital for a month because someone slipped in peanut oil while cooking her food. So when I read this book I called her up and told her about it because it brought back so many memories and the book was heart wrenching to read. So enough babbling and on to the real review.

Sam is a swimmer and swimming is her life. She loves the way the water feels and how her body gets lost in the water. There is only one other thing that she loves and that is Zee. Lord that girl is crushing on him so hard that she blushes every time he is near. So when she finds out he is going to this party she decides she is going to go as well. The only thing is when she gets to the party Zee is talking to some other girl and he does not show any interest in Sam.

Sam gets angry and decides she is going to make Zee jealous by kissing his best friend Alex. She kisses Alex and when the kiss is done Alex slumps to the floor unconscious. See what Sam did not know is that Alex is deathly allergic to peanuts and she ate a peanut butter sandwich before she came to the party. So when she kissed Alex he had a severe reaction and died. Sam feels terrible for killing Alex and she retreats into her self. She quits the only thing she has ever loved and that is swimming and over night she is an instant outcast to most kids in the school.

Sam feeling guilty and embarrassed finds out that the friends she thought she had are no longer her fiend and the friends she never knew she had become her friends but she hates herself for what she did and cannot forgive herself. She finds a friend in the unlikeliest person and she soon comes to term with what happened and how she made a mistake. How her actions killed someone and that if she done things differently Alex would still be alive.

Sam will have to dig deep inside herself to forgive herself. Once she has done that she will be able to survive. This is such a must read story I can't say anymore without some major spoilers. So when October 01 comes around go to your local book store and buy it and read for yourself what happens after a deathly kiss!
Profile Image for Michelle Kamp.
Author 28 books75 followers
September 29, 2012
See full review here!

First of all, this cover really does the book no justice. I have to say this because I had the TOTAL wrong impression of what this book was going to be about! I feel like I have to always say this, but more often than not I tend to pass on reading the description of books. I just genuinely like to read, and covers generally draw me in. This book looked very interesting at ALA, and I got it signed by the author. I thought it was more of a light teen romance, but that's definitely NOT what this book is. At all, really. Even with the title.. but I was so wrong.

And that turned out to be okay! Since it took a total turn for the "I have no idea what's going to happen next," I was able to stay much more interested than I originally thought. Well, I probably would have been just as interested in a teen romance since that's what I thought I was getting myself into. But this book is about death, grief, forgiveness. There's a bit of the romance stuff in there, but this book is about Samantha's journey after a significantly sad event occurs in her life.

Sam is strong but totally broken after the "event." She basically gives up, tortures herself by going back to school, and tries to get lost in a relationship that is barely even there. She has to work through her emotions with the help of her father, her kooky aunt, and some pretty good friends. Some things we just need to fix on our own time, I guess. I don't know how I can relate this story to my own life, but I can definitely feel myself inside Samantha's shoes. She had something horrible happen, and getting through it must be just like she describes it. It sounds awful, but I think most people would react the same way. That makes this book a little enjoyable in a way.

I really enjoyed this. I read it in a few hours because I couldn't put it down. Not because I had to know what happened to Sam, really. More because I liked being inside their lives. They were a fun group of people, and I'd like to read more about them for sure. Check this book out if you're ready to be so deceived by this cover, if you like a a bit of darkness in your YA, and if you need a book to pull you out from anything that's dragging you down.
Profile Image for emeraldsue.
437 reviews51 followers
February 13, 2017
“What she doesn’t know is that I don’t want to feel better. I don’t want to go on with my life as if nothing happened. Something did happen. Something big."
Profile Image for Rose.
1,854 reviews1,046 followers
January 2, 2013
Initial thoughts: This was my first official read of 2013. Verdict? Very lukewarm, this book had some potent moments of grief, but I couldn't overcome several issues I had in the duration and aftermath of reading it. I hope I can explain my thoughts more in the full review.

Full review: Since reading Janet Gurtler's "If I Tell" - I looked forward to reading more of her books, and I was especially excited about "Who I Kissed", a book that follows a young woman who kisses a boy with a peanut allergy at a party. When the boy (Alex) dies unexpectedly, fingers point to Sam from many directions, including herself (considering she ate a peanut butter snack sometime before the party). From that point on, it's a tough road of grief for Sam as she deals with taunts from students her own age, family issues in the way of rediscovering her mother long after she passed, dealing with fragile relationships, and ultimately comes to terms with what really happened at the party and how Alex died.

I'll admit something right off the bat: this sounded to me much like the plot to Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson, but I was willing to see where it went, and ultimately, this was a far better book than Henderson's because it's self contained and deals with a number of sensitive issues in a realistic manner.

That's not to say that this book did everything well, unfortunately. It was a rocky read for me from point one with the pacing and working up until the point of the party. For a good 30 pages I just couldn't relate to any of the characters or the situations at hand. There was the typical "make the boy you like jealous by hanging out with another boy" actions on the part of the heroine. I was also frequently annoyed by the constant reminders that at Sam's old school, rumor had it that she was a lesbian, and there are times when she makes light of that factor in a way that's overdone. Another issue was that even once the book arrived at the point where Sam's at the party and kisses Alex, the emotions are told too much and not shown enough. I was distracted a bit and thrown out of the book by how jagged the presentation of emotion was in that particular segment. Rather than being told that information, I wish that it had taken on a more deep POV and allowed both the character and the reader to come to those realizations more naturally. The story started to even out a bit as it went along, and I liked the entrance and advice given by Sam's aunt and father, and basically the family dynamics that went with that.

Like in "If I Tell", Gurtler addresses a lot of issues in "Who I Kissed" - like the aspects of grief, dealing with family matters, first time for sex, cheating, betrayal, and even a close call scene where there could've been another death in the measure of things. I think the biggest factor that counted against "Who I Kissed" was the pacing and the overtelling versus showing of emotional resonance. I think if that had been better handled, this would've made for a more potent read, but I still liked it for what it offered, particularly for the unique premise and the take on events.

Overall score: 2.5/5
Profile Image for Kassiah.
798 reviews85 followers
February 9, 2013
3.5 stars.

My full review, including quotes and stuffs, can be found on the Fictionators .

The description of this book is pretty spot on with what happens. Swimming star Sam kisses a boy that she just met at a party and he dies--right then.

Need a little more? Sam has been flirting around with her friend, Zee, when his former flame comes up to them at a party. When Zee starts making out with his old girlfriend, Sam turns her attention to Alex. It's really sweet:
Alex's hand slips around my waist, pulling me tighter. This boy knows what he's doing. His kiss is soft and sweet, with a hint of more just beneath.

Literally moments later, Alex bends at the waist grasping for breath. He doesn't have his inhaler or an epi-pen with him, and an ambulance is called. Alex doesn't make it, and all eyes turn to Sam. Turns out, Alex has a severe peanut allergy and Sam ate a peanut butter sandwich a few hours before attending the party.

The author admits in the end notes that she isn't sure if this scenario could actually take place. I looked it up a little bit and found an article that said it is possible. Overlooking the possible improbability of the story, and I can tell you that there is so much more to Sam than just the girl who killed a boy with a kiss. The fallout that she deals with from her friends, her father, and the community is pretty spectacular.

I have to say right of the bat that I haven't read anything like this book before. There are things that I totally loved and there are some things that didn't make me happy, too. Janet Gurtler totally nailed the way a girl would feel if she had found herself in this awful situation. I really love that about her writing--it's so real. Sam feels that even though Alex's death was an accident, she doesn't deserve to live the life she envisioned for herself. She doesn't deserve to keep swimming, she doesn't deserve any of her friends to support her, and she doesn't deserve to be happy. Pretty emo, right? It truly is, but the writing is excellent and everything this character thinks and feels totally makes sense.

So, what didn't I love? It's hard for me to tell you here without spoiling too much, but I felt like the end was wrapped in too neat of a little bow. There were other issues in Sam's life than just what happened to Alex. She never felt like she really fit in before. Her father was pretty anti-social after losing her mother several years ago in a car accident. And her aunt wasn't around as much as she would have liked. In the end, too many things got resolved, including something really big that I felt took away from what I considered to be the overall message of the book. I think the end felt a little Public Service Announcement-esque to me. There were also a couple of things that were left with hardly any resolution that I thought absolutely should have been addressed more than they were. I know, it's hard to make me happy.

Overall, I liked this book and I pretty much loved Sam's character. And Zee? Totally swoony.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,020 reviews103 followers
July 25, 2017
Last year, I really enjoyed Janet Gurtler's If I Tell.Therefore, when the chance came up to read Who I Kissed I jumped at the chance. It sounded like another great one, and the premise sounded completely original. Thankfully, it was everything I had hopped it would be and much, much more, because to tell the truth, Who I Kissed simply blew me away!

Ever since Samantha and her father moved to a new town, everything has been going pretty smoothly. She's finally gotten away from all the jeers and taunt of her old schoolmates. She's won herself a coveted spot on the her school's swim team, and she's even caught the eye of the swoon worthy Zee. However, everything spins out of control one night when she kisses Alex, a boy she barely knows, and he ends up dying right in front of her. Blamed for his death, as he had a peanut allergy and she ate a peanut butter right before kissing him, Samantha once again becomes one of the most hated kids at school. However, there is one bright spot to this all: Casper, a mysterious boy from school, suddenly takes an interest in her. But is Casper everything he seems? More importantly, will anything ever return back to normal? Only more pages will tell in this fast paced and addicting read!

Who I Kissed had a lot of great things going for it, and one of those things was the characters. Samantha was someone I liked from the start. She was sweet, and determined, and even after facing so many hurtful things in her past as well as in the current times, she still remained dauntless. What I enjoyed most about having her as the lead, though, was the various layers Gurtler gave her. From her being a swimmer to the effects of loosing her mom at a young to the effects of her current situation a lot was put into her character, and it made the book come off all the stronger because of it. I also really enjoyed the addition of Zee. He was swoon worthy, and while I hated him for causing Sam a lot of pain, I could understand why he was so messed up. Plus it made what happened in the end all the sweeter for them. I also loved the addition of Sam's dad and aunt, whose banter was always HILARIOUS, as well as Capser, who I always had a love/hate relationship with.

The plot in this was also very interesting! I don't think I've ever read a book featuring a peanut allergy death before so it was interesting to see how played out for Sam as well as for Alex's parents and sister as well as the overall community. Janet really addresses a tough issue in this one, one that has many, may sides, and I really thought she did a great job. She got the emotions down beautifully, as I could really feel them jump off the page and come to life. I also enjoyed the addition of Casper relationship as well as the mystery behind Sam's mom's death as both always kept me guessing.

In all, Who I Kissed is an emotionally charged and enjoyable read that I highly suggest to all YA fans! Word of warning, though: don't start this one expecting to read only a chapter or two. I did, and I ended up staying up half the night until I finished!

Grade: A+
Profile Image for Lili.
435 reviews47 followers
September 17, 2012
I was slightly worried going into this book because I attempted to read a similar book back in 2008 and had to DNF it, but I'm happy to say that this book far exceeds my expectations and was carried out beautifully in a really unique way.

Samantha is a really easy character to connect to. I liked her thought processes, even when she was struggling to forgive herself. This book is pretty much her story to forgiving herself and regaining her strength from a huge accident that she couldn't really control, but unfortunately took part in. She makes a lot of mistakes in an attempt to numb herself from the pain and sorrow that consumes her, but she also learns a lot about herself, her family, and her deceased mother, which makes her stronger. I found this book to be very emotionally involved.

The characterization in this novel was incredibly interesting because it highlights every type of teenager out there. It has those that grieve, those that hate, those with risky coping mechanisms, those that lie, those that cheat, those horrible boys that take advantage of girls when they're grieving, and everything in-between. This wide array of characters was extremely welcome and for every bad heckler, there was someone good to stand beside Samantha. They take you on a roller coaster of a ride and never let you sit comfortably, but they helped the story evolve and I really enjoyed the story because of this.

The plot progression in this novel was just right. It wasn't too fast or too slow. It was simply at Samantha's own pace of recovery and self-acceptance. Once her peers began to step in, it sped up slightly because she had the help of others behind her. This is a quick read because of this, and I enjoyed that. I was able to get through it happily in one sitting.

The romance is there and is always in the back-plot, but isn't center stage at every portion of the book. The entire reason that Alex unfortunately passed away is because Samantha kissed him to make Zee jealous. So her love for Zee is always on the back of her mind. As the story continues, her love life is always on her mind simply because she chastises herself for doing something so out of character. She then looks towards boys to help her calm down and temporarily forget about Alex. While things carry out, you may be with her or against her, but in the end, you sit there and realize how her romantic mistakes helped her become a strong girl again. This is all about her emotional struggles and progressions to solidarity, so her decisions were all necessary, even if slightly frustrating in the moment.

I was very satisfied with the ending. It was simple, but pulled together all of the plot points and made me, as a reader, smile because of my attachment and liking of specific characters. It doesn't leave you begging for more and doesn't make a sequel necessary. It simply completes the book efficiently and leaves very little room for complaint. Thus, I really enjoyed this story. It was easy to get through, enjoyable, and emotionally powerful. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a quick read that is about discovering oneself and traveling the long path to forgiveness.
Profile Image for Brooke.
159 reviews113 followers
August 7, 2012
Who I Kissed is a book filled with sorrow and hope. It's a book filled with characters that'll make your heart hurt and a storyline that is brilliantly told. Who I kissed is a book that makes you THINK about the choices you make through-out the day and how they can affect others. Small, simple things that you might find inconsequential. Like eating a peanut butter sandwich, for example.

Because that’s all Sam, the main character, did; eat a peanut butter sandwich before a party.

And it all spiraled downward from there.

Sam arrives at the party hoping to make an impression on her crush and fellow swimmer Zee, but unfortunately he’s mackin’ on someone else. Ouch. So, to try to make Zee jealous, Sam decides to kiss one of his best friends, Alex. And remember how Sam ate that pb sammich before the party? Yeah, well, Alex is SEVERELY allergic to peanuts. And oh my gosh you guys…that moment!? It felt suspended in time. From the time Sam and Alex broke their kiss to when his sister Chloe was franticly yelling for someone to call 911…it was all in slow motion, even as I was reading it. It was insane. Seriously.

When Alex dies at the hospital, Sam’s life changes drastically. She quits the swim team and hides away in her room. She’s broken and confused and sorry, so so sorry, and mortified and embarrassed and devastated and the absolute anguish she feels? Just bleeds through the pages. I felt so bad for this girl.
Only a hand full of people treat Sam with the dignity she still deserves after the incident while others are SO rude and hateful. And I just want to quick mention Casper and say “WAAAAAH!” ←whether that’s a good ‘waah’ or a bad ‘waaah,’ I’ll never tell ya! (pick up the book and you’ll find out :P)

Sam tries to deal with what happened to Alex but struggles with it on a daily basis and it takes her awhile to finally heal and accept it. She makes some major mistakes along the way but she also reaches some very important revelations; severing certain relationships and strengthening others. She goes through so much and grows so much as a character and i absolutely loved that!

Overall, Who I Kissed is an intense and amazing novel that I HIGHLY recommend.
Profile Image for Thalia.
296 reviews131 followers
March 7, 2017
This is another book that I finished approximately a year and a half ago, and I have exactly two status updates for it on Booklikes… This review will be short and to-the-point (as three-star reviews tend to be anyway).

On the plus side, I thought this was an interesting storyline that raises some awareness for kids with allergies. Eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing someone are not two events I would ever connect, and Gurtler brings the details together in a way that fits nicely. Sam’s family really made this enjoyable to me, and I always appreciate when parents or other family members take the spotlight sometimes in books (family usually ends up on the back burner in YA, unfortunately). Sam’s dad and her aunt helped her grow and find peace, which I appreciated.

(Spoilers ahead!)



Read the rest of my review on my blog!
http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/1...
Profile Image for JeanBookNerd.
321 reviews40 followers
October 22, 2012
Janet Gurtler’s Who I Kissed is the remarkable story of Samantha who accidently kills a boy by kissing him. When Samantha wanted to make another boy jealous, she kisses Alex. He is highly allergic to peanuts and it just happened that Samantha just ate a peanut butter sandwich. Alex’s allergic reaction went into full blast that ultimately took his life while he was on his way to the hospital. Living with this tragic event, she must face all of her peers in shame for accidently killing Alex, a well-liked boy in school.

The story is more than about a boy who dies from an allergic reaction to peanuts, Samantha’s story about having to deal with its aftermath is the other part. Readers witness the reactions of her peers and how she deals with it and how her life did a full 360.

The writing style in this book is simply incredible. Janet has a way of putting words together that just clicks to her readers. Not only was Samantha likable and relatable, she felt authentically real. The story may sound far-fetched, but allergies to peanuts are very common. Not only is the story highly gripping and intriguing, it is also informative. Peanut allergies are on the rise and there is a research on ways to fight it. Who I Kissed is like three stories into one. There’s Alex’s story, how one single event can totally change your life, and the awareness of peanut allergies.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
189 reviews
November 27, 2012

Review originally posted on Words at Home blog Nov 27, 2012: http://www.wordsathome.ca/2012/11/who...

I had to step back for a little bit after finishing Who I Kissed and it took some time to really wrap my head around what I had read. This is a book that I couldn’t put down, Gurtler so expertly captured the emotions of her characters and their anger, sadness, and despair was literally dripping off the pages. Who I Kissed is an incredibly powerful and emotional story. It is about guilt, relationships, and the ways we can look for validation and acceptance while in the midst of an emotional crisis.

As the new girl in school Sam was just trying to fit in, especially since the rumors at her old school had nearly ruined her. She had found a place for herself on her school’s swim team where she dominated records, had a new best friend, and something was starting to happen between her and the boy she had a crush on. Things were finally started to work out for her, until one night at a party when she was feeling a little bit rejected and a little lonely. Sam made a decision to kiss a boy that she hardly knew and wasn’t terribly interested in just to make her crush jealous. It was completely out of character for her and ended with disastrous consequences. Before the party started Sam had eaten a peanut butter sandwich, and the boy she choose to kiss had an anaphylactic peanut allergy. Alex died that night, and Sam was overcome with grief and guilt. She quit swimming, stopped going out, and spent weeks locked in her room. When she finally ventured out of the house to go to school not only did she find that the whole school was talking about her but they hated her and blamed her for killing Alex. The only friendly face to be found was that of her best friend Taylor, and the boy she liked? Well he was Alex’s best friend.

I was completely blown away with how real this story felt. Gurtler didn’t hide a thing and Sam’s remorse, guilt, anger and despair were palpable. It was at times painful to see the way she held herself accountable as well as the ways that she attempted to escape from her guilt. She didn’t believe that she was deserving of the life she was aspiring to because she blamed herself for taking Alex’s future away from him. She quit swimming even though it was her life and began a relationship with a boy simply because he was nice to her. She couldn’t see the truth behind his motives because her mind was so clouded with regret.

Zee was a really interesting character and had the conflicted role of both liking Sam and being Alex’s best friend. How do you continue to flirt with a girl that you really like when she is being blamed for killing your best friend? I can only imagine how difficult the situation would have been for Zee, and while at times I was angry with him for giving Sam the cold shoulder, I don’t know how he could have acted any differently. And even though it was obvious that he was struggling with his feelings and grief, it was still clear that he cared about Sam.

Who I Kissed was a much more complicated and emotional novel than I had originally believed I was in store for. Through paying close attention not only to Sam and her struggle to get through what happened, but also to Alex’s best friend, family members and classmates Gurtler was able to realistically explore the impact that Alex’s death had. Janet Gurtler has written a completely compelling and sensitive novel that struck a cord with me and has me extremely eager to read her other work!

I received an ARC of Who I Kissed via Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Sandra.
934 reviews54 followers
September 26, 2012
I was looking for a fluffy contemporary and the cover of this book certainly says that, but the insides are completely different... and so much better than fluff. There should be a peanut on the cover of this book, not an attractive high school girl with a hot dude standing behind her. Why?

Who I Kissed is about a girl named Samantha who accidentally kills a boy by kissing him. Alex was highly allergic to peanuts and Samantha didn't know, so when she kisses him at a party to make another boy jealous after eating a peanut butter sandwich... all hell breaks loose at the party and Alex dies on the way to the hospital. Now Samantha must live with the stigma of her peers for accidentally killing one of the best-loved boys in school.

Oh.Em.Gee. I has hooked from page one, I tell you, page one! Before Samantha goes to that infamous party, we get to learn a little bit about her - she's a shy, serious gal who studies hard even on the weekends, rarely parties, and takes her swimming career very seriously. She eats well and exercises and her idea of going nuts is going to a movie at night. I loved Samantha from the beginning because she reminded me of me in high school - minus the swimming. So when she aims to make her crush/almost-boyfriend, Zee, jealous at a party (yes, this part is a little fluffy) she decided to kiss the attractive Alex who evidently had a thing for Sam as well.

The fluff stops here. Immediately Alex cannot breathe and, well... you know what happens after that.

I was really impressed with the way Janet Gurtler wrote Sam's character. Aside from being relatable, I found every little thing Sam did to be realistic. It's how I would imagine myself handling the situation. Beyond Sam's character, I found the whole book to be realistic. Even the kiss, though it sounds far fetched, seems like something you might see on the news these days. Nut allergies are on the rise and the debate over what to do about it - ban nuts from schools? ostracize the allergic kids to a separate table? - brings a fiery passion from both sides of the debate.

I'm not going to lie - until I read this book, I was one of those people who thought nut allergies was no big deal. I didn't think peanut butter should be banned from schools because of it, but now I've done almost a one-eighty on the issue. Absolutely ban peanut butter from schools if it will ensure a life is saved. No kid is that picky that they will only eat peanut butter, and if they are it's your responsibility as a parent to broaden their food horizons. Leave the PB for the weekends. Thankfully, there is research going on regarding peanut allergies. According to the author, a vaccine is the the works and I've seen a few stories on the news in the past year about progress being made with exposure therapy. Perhaps someday this won't even be an issue, but in the meantime Who I Kissed is an excellent example of a young adult novel taking on a serious issue head on.

Also, let me just note without being spoiler-ish: there's a surprise ending that I loved.

Five stars - this book was amazing, realistic, enthralling, and really brings to light the debate about peanuts. I read the whole thing in one night, and I would have done it in one sitting if I could have. Please don't pass off Who I Kissed as contemporary fluff based off the cover and please give it a read. I guarantee you'll enjoy it.
Profile Image for Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids.
1,952 reviews204 followers
October 10, 2012
This book was a pleasant surprise for me. I'm trying to branch out a bit more in my reading of YA contemporaries, something I don't read a lot of, and I really liked Janet's writing style and her story telling. She did an incredible job at creating a realistic story that deals with heartache, grief, love, learning to forgive, moving forward, choices, consequences and variety of other topics readers will easily relate to. The thing I was most impressed with in Who I Kissed was Janet's ability to bring awareness to food allergies, and mental illness without it being preachy or heavy. While both things are a huge factor in the lives of the teens in this book, it's their relationships, and the choices they make that really drew me into the story.

Life is about choices. No matter how big or small they are, they shape us, and our future. I liked that, that was a theme with Samantha's story. It's those choices no matter how planned out or spur of the moment they are, that turned her life upside down, and took her on a different course that she had planned. Like that time she ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, not realizing the deadly effect it could have on Alex, the guy she barley knew and kissed at that party. I really enjoyed getting to know Samantha. She's someone I felt like I connected with right away, and I enjoyed her strong voice. I sympathized with and I cheered her on. I understood her pain, and sorrow as well as her motivation to continue on. I liked that while she had a support group of her dad, her close friend and her aunt, the choice was always hers to get through the tragic event that has now changed her life.

In this web of sorrow, heartache and grief, comes something powerful, and it's Samantha and her will to just live. To take one day at a time and to try and cope with all that's gone around her and try to make things right in a new kind of way. The thing I loved about this book is how real the characters felt. It's not just Samantha, but her dad, her aunt, her crush Zee, her best friend, and Alex's family. I got their emotions, I understood their motives, and I liked that there is more to what really happened that night at the party than we're first made to believe. This is a book that unravels perfectly revealing just enough I need to know at all the right moments. It's a story that includes first kisses, the first kisses you wish you got, new romances, hope, hate, bullies, crushes, family relationships, and so much more. Most importantly it's book about forgiving and moving one. I love the way Janet tackles all the emotional sides that happen in this book, and puts it in a realistic high school setting. It's not just about Samantha, but about Alex's family, his best friends, and those that surround both Samantha, Zee and those who knew Alex best.

There's so much more I want to say about this book, but I'll just say it's one I'd recommend picking up. I really enjoyed Janet's writing style and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books. There is some mild language, mentions of sex/fooling around, and tastefully written sex scene, and a lot of talk about grief and coping with the loss of a loved one/good friend. It's a book that may not be for everyone, but it's one I felt was realistically written, and one I'd probably read again.
Profile Image for Samruddhi.
133 reviews21 followers
July 9, 2013
My rating: 2.5
This book talks about a rare subject for me- deadly allergies caused due to nuts. I've never personally come into contact with people having such allergies but have heard it through my friends so I've not thought deeply on how careful these guys have to be ALL THE TIME. That was sorta a shock. Gurtler has handled this topic half to my like and half to my dislike. If the story revolved around a person having these deadly allergies then she would have handled it better due to her experience but this had the opposite point of view. One thing that perplexed me is why Gurtler decided that the perpetrator's name isn't infamous through the media at all (they don't even name her!) The outline was so promising and my expectation were high especially from Sam's coming of age but Gurtler couldn't accomplish that (dunno why). The 'before' and 'during' part of it was wonderful ! It's when the after part began that started disappointing me...because that's when this unique story became run-of-the-mill. I thought Sam was different. Her internal dialogue was very refreshing!- shy, clumsy, endearing yet a quiet strength. In the 'after', yes I expected her crippling guilt whether it be survivor or perpetrator guilt. What I hated was the way Sam handled it. I understand the need to feel numb because feeling too much guilt destroys you but is sexual activity with someone you don't even like the only thing that does this? Why do authors always pick this reason for young adults? (God, maybe I'm being prudish but still !!!! I don't think it would work in real life. On the other hand, I appreciated the beginning of the disentanglement between the father-daughter bond. Sam's aunt was funny, wise yet a bit like a godmother and made the book fun. And that's all there is to like! The romance segment was complete bullshit for me because Zee's behaviour didn't jive at all right from the beginning!! It's the crappiest thing to do- start to give those 'kiss' vibes to a girl you like ( keep in mind, people!) but when your on-again-off-again-hook-up-girl comes interrupting, going off with her and immediately making out with her ???? WHAT THE FUCK? I mean what kind of an asshole is he??? But then, fine this happened, it hurt, time to move on but nnyooooooo there's gotta be romantic development between them anyway The 'numbing-with-sex' part and the unrealistic pathetic romantic thing that no self-respecting girl would do plus the ANGST (OH the ANGST ruined the whole book... There's also the part where Gurtler completely does a 180 in the climax that again made me regret reading it! Why do authors always feel the need to 'redeem' the lead with some bullshit banner of 'having learnt a lesson and behaving completely out of character?
*depressed sigh* mildly interesting read. The last 70% was a disaster for me.
Profile Image for Donna.
1,045 reviews559 followers
October 26, 2012
Who I Kissed is a powerful and emotional story – one about life, loss, grief and hope. Samantha is a teenage girl who is dedicated to her prospective swimming career. She spends countless hours in the pool training and many hours trying to keep her school grades up. Sam’s not one for parties but she wants to let her hair down and hopefully can catch the eye of Zee – the guy she’s been attracted to for ages. While at the party, Sam ends up kissing another boy – to make Zee jealous, and unfortunately for her, it ends in a disastrous result and the boy, Alex ends up losing his life.

Talk about the kiss of death huh? Wow, this story was such an eye opener for me. Food allergies aren’t really a priority for me. I don’t have any allergies nor do I know anyone with food allergies so, you can see why I don’t think about them often. However, while reading this book you can see why I’m so intrigued about it. I didn’t even realise food allergies could be so bad – having to watch what other kids eat at school in case something happens to your child. If my daughter had a serious allergy then I’d do anything I could to protect her and as a parent myself, I think we should help others who have allergies too. So I loved how much awareness this story brings to us as readers because I now know the lengths of how serious allergies can be.

I have to admit, I was very hesitant to start this story because I wasn’t sure where the author could take it. It’s a very serious situation and a heart-breaking one at that. We see the characters struggle with grief that it almost consumes them and we see them trying to break free and move on with their lives. The author really takes you on a journey of surviving and it makes this story such a gripping and heart-wrenching read.

I really liked Sam. She’s a teenage girl with her whole life ahead of her and then something as simple as kissing a boy, turns her life upside down. My heart went out to her and I’m glad she had the support of her family there to help her. I also really liked Zee, I didn’t always agree with his choices but from the start you know there’s something about him that you just love. And then of course, there’s Alex – the boy who died. It was such a shame because Alex seemed like a really nice guy. Again he doesn’t always make the right choices but a nice guy nonetheless.

My favourite part of Who I Kissed was definitely the ending and it honestly left me with tears in my eyes. I was praying for a happy ending and I wasn’t sure if that it could fit with the story, but Janet Gurtler really does it well. I take my hat off to her because this was definitely a difficult story to write but she really makes it work and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone.

A big thank you Sourcefire Books for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
754 reviews81 followers
September 25, 2012
Samantha didn't mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in... and maybe make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died. Was she really the only person in the entire school that 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 a pariah and a media sensation. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing a swimming scholarship, she'll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.

Who I Kissed is an intriguing look at grief, at mistakes we wish we could take back, at giving up and moving on. At the heart of the book is Sam, her emotional issues, her struggle to move on. The only way she can go is forward, but something has been switched on inside of her that makes her stop in her tracks, stopping while the rest of the world moves on around her.

Sam is filled with regret, with guilt, and she can't move on. There were times when I wanted to reach into the book and shake her, push her, scream at her to move on, but she can't. That's what this book is about, it's about how she can't move on, how she's too focused on Alex and his death that she believes she caused, even if it was accidental. In her mind, it's enough, and she doesn't feel that she deserves to continue on with her life, with her new friends, her new high school, and with swimming.

Most of the supporting characters in the book are grieving, just as Sam is, but they all have their ways and methods. It's an interesting look at the ways people cope with loss. Sam needs to grief, needs to talk and express all of her emotions, but in a way she needs space, space to accept. She also needs the unwritten and completely fictional guide book on how to cope with loss. I got the sense that, right after the accident, Sam wanted to be told what to do in terms of coping and grieving. She wanted to know what to do next, how to get over the guilt of causing Alex's death, even though there was no way she could've known about his allergy. No one told her what she was supposed to do, but that's because there's nothing specific that anyone could've told her. Everyone grieves in their own way, and it was up to Sam to figure out how to move on.

A heartfelt and honest look at grief, at how hard it can be to move on, to take that step forward after stopping because of something so tragic and unexpected.
Profile Image for Britta.
322 reviews54 followers
October 3, 2012
Who I Kissed is an heart wrenching story of coping with grief. Not the grief of a family recovering after the premature death of a son and brother, but the guilt and torment faced by the girl who accidentally kills him with one innocent kiss.

While at one of the few parties Samantha has decided to attend, she notices the boy who was watching her swim the other day. In a moment of weakness, they end up sharing a kiss that proves fatal. Alex goes into anaphylaxis and is pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. All because Sam kissed him after eating a peanut butter sandwich.

Some people read the synopsis and have a moment of disbelief, as if the story couldn't possibly be good because the premise is so odd. If any variation of this thought pops into your head, immediately grab hold of it and fling. Or better yet, set it on fire and burry the ashes. Who I Kissed is so much more than the story of a boy dying from an allergic reaction. Not only does Samantha have to deal with the tormenting of her peers, the mass media attention, the hurt appearance of Alex's sister in the hall way, the dissolution of an important friendship, and the fading of her dreams, but these events are all added to the important family matters that have been filed away and ignored. The story isn't about Alex, it isn't even about server peanut allergies. Not to downplay Alex's role, but he is more of an instigator to events than the subject of the novel itself.

I love this book so much that I am getting confused just thinking about it. I have read and reviewed Gurtler's first two novels, I'm Not Her and If I Tell , both of which I very much so enjoyed, but Who I Kissed definitely takes the cake. I appreciated how real Sam's emotions were. She wasn't put down by the media attention or the ridicule of classmates, but rather she was destroyed by herself. It is her choice to limit her dreams and happiness. It is her who doesn't want to feel better, who thinks she has to suffer for what she did. She is continually torn between wanting to be punished and wanting to forget. Before she confronts Alex's family, she really has to deal with herself first.

Don't for a minute think that the plot is going to fall the usual contemporary pattern of: problem, drama, getting better, solution. It rises and falls, and drags emotions every which way. Just in case you needed one more incentive to pick up this novel.

If you love contemporary novels, or even moderately like them, Who I Kissed should be moved to the top of your to-read pile.
Profile Image for Aly.
259 reviews19 followers
January 2, 2013
At her old School, there was a rumor started by a swimmer that she had beaten, that Sam was a Lesbian. She's not. After she and her dad move three hours away, in hopes to advance her swimming career, she meets Zee, the only guy in the club that's faster than her. He flirts with her and gives her candy, that means he likes her...right? At a party, after Zee flirts with her and starts making out with a girl right behind her back, Sam just wants to show him, that two can play that game, so she kisses Alex. Her kisses leaves him breathless, but not in a good way, and the next thing she knows, she's being told he's dead and it's her fault. Now Sam has to find a way to forgive herself, and hopefully find a way to make everyone else, including Zee, Alex's best friend, forgive her.

I absolutely loved this book. Despite how hard I tried to hold it in, I cried. I cried because I was happy, I cried because I was sad, but mostly I cried because I understood. I 100% understand that raging hormones that it is to be teenage girl, and I can imagine the grief of both sides. That's why I love Who I Kissed so much, because Gurtler makes it hard just to feel one way. I want to defend Sam, because it really was an accident, but at the same time, this careless accident resulted in someone's death and no matter what it can't bring Alex back. It broke my heart to see that not only did Sam punish herself, most everyone else punished and blamed her as well. It hurt so much because although I know they are grieving, they're being selfish by not choosing to sympathize with her. Again, I totally, see both sides of the argument and it didn't know how to feel.

My favorite part of Who I Kissed is despite all the drama and the tragedy, is that Sam and Zee are like magnets. They keep coming together coming together, despite everything. I sort of wished for more scenes between but I understand why Gurtler doesn't, it would detract from the story, ultimately this story is about Sam and her relationship with herself.

In Who I Kissed Gurtler successfully manages to break my heart, repairs it, then melts it. I love this book so much, I was a roller coaster ride of emotions, that I won't ever fully be able to process. I can't stop think about this book, and going back to reread and analyzing my favorite books. Who I Kissed is just one of those books that you'll never want to let go.

ARC received from publisher at BEA Convention.
Profile Image for Wanda.
253 reviews58 followers
November 7, 2012
This story is better than I expected. Love the awareness it will bring to young readers regarding food allergies.


This book wasn't at all what I expected. I expected a YA about a bunch of high school kids making out and just being irresponsible kids. But it wasn't like that all. Can you envision yourself kissing a guy. Now picture that he dies right before your eyes because of an allergy reaction? Well this is the exactly scenario that happened in this book. What happens during the rest of the book made me so sad.

Each character was a written perfectly. The author didn't just write a book just for the sake of writing, she wrote a story with so much meaning to it. She invested in each character. They all had a perfect role. Sam is a young girl who just doesn't know better. She kissed a boy she hardly knew and paid for it in the harshest way possible. Sam became known for killing a boy and Alex became a poster child for peanut allergy. The exposure made Sam even guiltier to the point that she basically died with Alex. Her guilt consumed her and killed her identity.

There are so many characters that were written in this novel that brought so much to the story. Sam was pretty lucky to have her father there for her. He stuck by her giving her support. Then she had eccentric aunt with her little dog. Since Sam's mom died when Sam was a little girl, her aunt loves her like she was her own. She's there, pushing Sam to forgive herself and not to give up on life. Then you have Zee, the boy Sam likes. When he's not dealing with the loss of his best friend, he's actually someone Sam needs. He's a good guy who feels a little lost after losing his best friend. There are more characters that are just as good but I don't want this review to keep going.

Overall, this story brings a lot to the table but mostly it brings nut allergy awareness to the table and the severity of it and what a person and their family go through because of it. Who I kissed was written with a personal meaning behind it. Ms. Gurtler's son has a peanut allergy so this story is very personal to her. I think she did a good job with the story and the meaning behind it. I give this book a 4 stars and a definite Good Choice for Reading.

http://www.goodchoicereading.com/2012...
Profile Image for Katy.
611 reviews333 followers
November 29, 2012
[Read May 17, 2012 & Edited Nov. 28, 2012]

3.5 stars - Bouncing between 3 and 4...

I liked this book. I thought it had a lot of potential, telling the story of a new, insecure girl who made a poor choice one night and ended up having to deal with some serious consequences.

I really liked Sam. What happened was truly tragic and probably pretty traumatic, especially in situations with so many "what ifs." I honestly sympathized with what she was going through - her own guilty, the way the kids treated her at school, how she learned to heal. What I liked most about this book was Gurtler had a way of making Sam not overly depressing, but at the same time, make us connect with her.

However, I also felt there were too many things that were weird about the book.

First of all, I think it was awfully busy with a bit too much drama put into book, such as her mother's illness and death or the whole Theresa situation.

Which brings me to the relationship she had with her father and her aunt. While I'm glad she has such a close and open relationship. I mean who tells their dad . A normal dad would probably be waving a shotgun at his daughter's date rather than be so cool about it. It was just weird things like that that throws the story off and make it not so realistic. Oops, I had missed the three dots at the top of the page signaling a new scene. :P

And when reading the author's note about why Gurtler had decided to write this book, I was kind of disappointed that promoting peanut allergy awareness was not more prominent in the book. I'm not saying bog down the story with facts. But it didn't seem to have a major role in the book except for the reason why Alex died and a tiny bit of information about what Sam wanted to do to help at the end.

Overall, it's an enjoyable book. A quick, almost light read considering the subject. Now I have to go get some Jelly Belly, courtesy of Zee planting the thought in my head.
Profile Image for Susan.
298 reviews59 followers
September 14, 2012
Who I kissed is a deeply heart wrenching book full of emotional drama and wonderful teen angst. Janet Gurtler penned an amazing novel that hooked and reeled me in from the start to the finish. It's one of those books that leaves you feeling incredibly emotionally spent, but in a really good way. Several times I asked myself, "WHAT IS THIS I AM READING?!". It was just that good at holding my interest and was so easy for me to connect emotionally with all of the characters in the book.

There is a beautiful display in the intense burden of struggle for Samantha, that was incredibly palpable and real. It was hard reading this novel sometimes, because of the depressing nature, but Gurtler did such a fantastic job of winning me over with her wonderful character development, intense emotional atmosphere, and wonder story dymanics. It made everything so incredibly realstic and easy to connect with on such a fundamental level of enjoyment and the Samantha's struggle was beautifully displayed and sympathetic. How could she have known that Alex had an allergy to peanuts, when she kissed him in an effort to make Zee jealous? That alone caused a whole new crop of thoughts to pop up and niggle at my brain. The result of what happens after that fatal kiss, is what nearly becomes Samantha's undoing. How in the world does she get to live and enjoy a happy life, when she was the cause of Alex's death? She finds herself in such a horrible emotionally unstable state, that she starts withdrawing from her friends, gives up on swimming, and pretty much life in general.

Who I Kissed is a terribly heart-wrenching and tragic story told. The beauty is in the tragedy and watching Samantha grow and overcome the grief that she didn't mean to cause. The struggle in that alone, will tug at any person's heart and have them sympathizing with her. Janet Gurlter has taken such a difficult topic and spun it into a wonderfully realistic book that anyone would enjoy reading. This is certainly not a book to be missed out on or overlooked.
Profile Image for Heather.
256 reviews68 followers
September 7, 2012
Even having a family member with a nut allergy, I don’t really think much about it beyond making certain that the food he eats doesn’t contain it. I wouldn’t necessarily think about my touching him, even giving him a quick kiss hello, and what I had been eating. I can’t say the same now.

Sam isn’t a bad kid. She works hard to be a great swimmer, doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, and tries to take things in stride. But when she tries to impress Zee, fellow swimmer and hottie, she kisses Alex – and then he dies in her arms.

Now she’s known as the girl who killed a guy with peanut butter. And she doesn’t know what to do. The only thing she DOES know, is that she can’t swim because Alex will never get to play baseball.

I felt awful for her, and how she encloses herself with her pain and fears, and is so unwilling to move on because Alex can’t. I thought that Gurtler did a wonderful job tying in coping with her mother’s death with Alex’s, and how moving forward isn’t just about dealing with what is literally right in front of you.

Sam’s Aunt was the perfect foil; she forces Sam to deal in a way that it doesn’t anger Sam, but still pushes her to keep moving. And she also helps Sam’s dad face the truth about his wife that he kept from Sam.

I also had a great respect for how Gurtler handles Alex’s family, and how they work to move forward. Even their interactions with Sam felt raw, but genuine. The theme was “this was a mistake, and it is not your fault.” And she has to work through her issues to come to that same realization.

Overall, I think she did a wonderful job with a difficult subject; while I felt it was tear-worthy at times, I also felt like she was dealing, and so I knew I would get to the end and feel hopeful. Definitely recommend for your library, or for older teens.
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