Author: Janet Gurtler
- Publication Date: October 1, 2012
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
- Reading Level: Young Adult
- Pages: 314 pages (ARC)
- Source: Gifted
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.
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.
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