Reviewed by Gabriëlle Linger
17 First Kisses is more than just a romance. It’s about more than just the typical Young Adult novel in which two teenage girls who fall for the same guy. It’s a story about friendship and change, about family and grief, and yes, it’s also about kissing and sex, and the author handles these subjects with both depth and nuance.
I would say the only problem I had with this book was that at times it was a little heavy-handed with the ‘slut shaming’ issues the characters both struggle with and participate in. While this does serve a purpose within the story, and Rachael Allen handles the issue fairly well, the point would not have been any less well made if we didn’t have to read about the characters calling each other every sexual and derogatory term underneath the sun on every other page. That said…..
I very much loved this book. Claire, the main character, is flawed and yet so very relatable, and the same goes for her best friend and the school’s “Queen Bee” Megan. Also thanks to brilliantly done and – more importantly – 3-dimensional characterizations, I found myself caring not just for the main but also for many of the secondary characters.
For me the best parts of the book were the stories of the kisses, which have been scattered throughout the book as vignettes, detailing what happens each time Claire kisses a particular boy for the first time. These kisses all come with different motivations and each kiss has a different flavour: some are fun, some intimate, others sad, still others embarrassing or even painful, and I admit some were even recognizable.
Provided you don’t have a problem with excessive swearing, I would definitely recommend those who love Young Adult fiction to give this book a try.
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Ebook of 17 First Kisses available here.