Reviews

I Kissed Shara Wheeler, by Casey McQuiston

thesalmonpoet's review against another edition

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(review edited 01/07/22)
okay so. i was super excited for this book when i read the premise a couple months back, and had really high hopes. i assumed that rwrb had been a sort of fluke? and that i’d enjoy casey mcquistons other books. i was wrong! ‘i kissed shara wheeler’ had me bored to death the entire time. this book was so incredibly slow-paced. i had no investment in the plot, i did not care about the characters and i could not bring myself to read beyond 48% of this book. chloe is such an insanely dislikable mc, and not in a good way. she has a strange ‘not like other girls’ energy about her that had me frustrated the whole time. shara was somewhat interesting, but only because she’s overdramatic and i appreciate that in a character. i was also intrigued about her family dynamic and what caused her to leave, but not intrigued enough to keep forcing myself through this book. smith and rory were about as interesting as plain white bread. the way queer rep was handled in this book was ,, really strange? i’d assume it was performative if i didn’t know that the author was queer. the setting and the christian school were cool ideas but the rest of the book was too bland for me to keep reading about it. overall, i guess that casey mcquiston’s books are not for me. i don’t understand the hype at all. i can’t decide which book i dislike more between rwrb and iksw. i’m still intending to read one last stop though, but if it’s anything like the other two i doubt i’ll get far into it.

dnf’d at 48%. i’ll probably search the ending up later.

madisonmcd's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

ell_n_'s review against another edition

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adventurous emotional funny hopeful mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

I enjoyed this more than Red, White & Royal Blue. Probably because it was wlw. And cute. And had more morally-grey characters and wonderful plot twists and sweet happy endings. Twas good.

booklandish's review against another edition

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4.0

Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller dynamic in a Southern conservative town while questioning one's Queer identity: You have my attention... Add in a disappearance mystery and some romance: Yes, please!

Bullet review:
- Scavenger hunt
- Queer identity
- Mystery plot
- High school drama
- Great romance(s)
- Excellent ending

I loved this! Such an entertaining book on the surface but with deeper themes perfectly handled. I am so glad this is out, especially for young readers in a time when LGBTQ content is so censored. The characters and relationships were layered and believable. I also loved the final message.

ddoshi's review against another edition

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funny hopeful medium-paced
  • Loveable characters? Yes

4.25

Footloose but make it 2022 and gen z. Definitely a great upper ya book that addresses the changes people go though in college. 

actuallyeman's review against another edition

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5.0

Casey McQuiston is magic.

For a very long time, maybe five or six years, I stopped reading almost completely, I’d average three books on a good year. Zero on a bad one, and it completely broke my heart, because I grew up on books, my mom read them to me, and as soon as the weird shapes on paper made sense to me, I could not let go of books. They were my whole life, my constant friends, and the place I escaped to when things got hard. And I truly thought that lost.

Until I discovered Casey McQuiston, specifically One Last Stop, and it reminded me exactly why I loved reading in the first place. It was the first book in years that made me feel that flutter only books could give me, the way they wrote their characters, constructed their worlds, built their stories—it was all right, and I fell right back in love with books.

I was frankly terrified when CMQ announced that their next project would be YA, because forcing myself to read that genre had been one of the reasons I got into a reading slump in the first place. But, it was CMQ, and I trust them entirely with my bookish well-being.

And guess what? I was right.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler is electric, it’s an amazingly written book about a variety of topics, one of which (the weaponization of religion against young people in the name of righteousness, and the subsequent religious trauma it brings) could be extremely difficult to approach, the characters click together in that way only Casey could write, and the letters, the way the clues came together to form this string of clues leading to this brilliant, brilliant girl who really just wants to be found and seen for who she truly is… it broke my heart and put it back together.

I also adored the discussion of gender in this book, the way Smith approached Ash with respectful curiosity, how little by little Smith settled into his own skin, how Rory finally got the boy of his dreams without someone to project jealousy on in the middle.

And Shara and Chloe… good god, where do I even start with them? This was an amazingly written rivalry, it felt like Chloe and Shara did hate each other for a sizable portion of the book, the academic rivals to enemies to lovers was EXQUISITE, and reading the stages of Shara realizing who she is, grappling with that, then finally settling into her own skin was marvelous. Also, Chloe Green? freaking icon, attitude and two moms and all.

I wish I had this book growing up, it would’ve made things so much easier, would’ve made me realize that sometimes it’s not me who’s wrong, it’s the system that can’t make enough room for me without crumbling onto itself.

So yeah, Casey McQuiston is magic, there really is no other way to put it.

alargeale's review against another edition

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funny hopeful lighthearted mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

shannonc8299's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

rubiphoenixa's review

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5.0

warning, this review is from a huge fan of Casey McQuiston, so there's probably a bit of bias there lmao.
i love Casey McQuiston so very much, i've now read all of their books and loved all of them, and for different reasons for each, but also of course for how honestly they've represented queer people of many types. I Kissed Shara Wheeler, is phenomenal, at least in my opinion.

i loved the way it explored the end of high school, and how that's such an 'end of an era' feeling for so many people, and that what lies after is going to be so different to the last eighteen-ish years of your life. the discussion of discovering/figuring out your sexuality, gender, and just who you are/will be was amazing.
none of the characters are perfect people, especially not the main four, which makes them great. because we can relate to them and they feel so real. CMQ is really great at creating multi-dimensional characters even the side characters, who often don't get that much time and attention.
i felt i could relate to this set of characters best out of any of CMQ's because they're closest to my age, and i've experienced what they're experiencing. it's also just a testament to CMQ's writing that i got invested in these characters and their stories so quickly. i cared about them a lot and what was going to happen from the start. also CMQ's humour is on point, both cause it's just really funny and also doesn't feel like an adult trying to guess how teenager's talk, it felt real.

loved the “hours/days since share left” thing at the start of each chapter and how they change throughout the book. also, the mixed media stuff at the end of each was so fun, and I'm so happy the 'burn pile' had a payoff and made sense by the end of the book.
the parallels between Jane Austen's Emma (the character) and Shara were great, as well as all the Shakespeare references.
i was picking up on Rory and Smith pretty quickly, but that's not a bad thing because they're so cute and i love them a lot. Rory getting exactly what smith wants even tho it’s not on the menu anymore is a love language. also, Georgia and Summer <3
i understand why the fallout between Georgia and Chloe had to happen because Chloe was being a shit friend and needed consequences, but omg friendship fallouts are always so painful, cause they're always so avoidable.


tropes in this i love:
- academic rivals to lovers
- mystery, finding clues
- a group of people having to work together when they didn’t know each/didn’t like each other beforehand
- exploring/figuring out sexuality and gender


favourite quotes:
- "I've heard you can take your heart back, but I don't think you can. Up close, with the light in your eyes, all you can see is what's right in front of you."

- "what's the point of wanting and being wanted in return if the person they want isn't truly you?"

- "her kiss was the one Shara bought brand-new lip gloss for."

- "there's no room to be anything except this one specific version of yourself that Willowgrove likes, and - and it's so blatantly fucked up... it's fucked up how they make us feel about ourselves, and we put up with it because we don't think there's anything we can do about it. we put up with it for so long that we don't even know who we are, only what they want us to be. and I don't want to put up with it anymore."

- "shame is the way of life here. it's stocked in the vending machines, stuck like gum under the desks, spoken in the morning devotionals. she knows now that there's a bit of it in her. it was an easy choice not to go back in the closet when she got here, but if she'd grown up here, she might never have come out at all. she might be a completely different person. there's so much to it here, so much that nobody tells anyone about."

- "I'm in love with a monster turducken."

- "Chloe wonders how a month away turned Shara into this, but when Shara shoots her a look over the top of her sunglasses, she remembers that Shara's always been this person. This is what I've been trying to tell you, she wrote on a card stuck under an auditorium seat. Shara's not nice. Shara's so many more important things than nice."

- "Chloe's starting to understand. She can climb on a stage in a parking lot and try to change something, but she can't decide the rest for anyone else."

sticky note key:
pink- mixed media type of stuff/clues/notes
orange- negative (usually anger)
yellow- other???
green- cute (platonic)
blue- cute (romantic)
light purple- good quotes
dark purple- funny

emad23's review against another edition

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5.0

Regressing into my post Casey McQuiston book depression