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Who I Kissed
Cover of Who I Kissed
Who I Kissed
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Janet Gurtler's books have been hailed as "just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult" (Booklist) and "reminiscent of Judy Blume" (RT Book Reviews). Her latest contemporary YA novel is by...
Janet Gurtler's books have been hailed as "just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult" (Booklist) and "reminiscent of Judy Blume" (RT Book Reviews). Her latest contemporary YA novel is by...
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Description-

  • Janet Gurtler's books have been hailed as "just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult" (Booklist) and "reminiscent of Judy Blume" (RT Book Reviews). Her 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.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    chapter one

    A loud thunk from the viewing area startles me as I flip-flop from the locker room to the pool deck. I glance over to see a boy dropping to the ground from the high top of the bleachers. He's staring at me, not even trying to hide it by sneaking in little peeks the way most boys do when they see girls in bathing suits. As he straightens himself up, he grins, and it's mischievous and cute but makes me très uncomfortable. Boys didn't show off or stare at me at my old school or swim club. They had no reason to. But things are different now, and this guy doesn't take his eyes off me.

    The attention makes me feel naked, and not because the only thing covering my body is a thin layer of high-performance microfiber. His gaze is intense, as if my thoughts are appearing over my head in cartoon-like bubbles. I certainly hope they aren't, because the thought that he has a nice butt may have recently passed through my mind.

    He lifts his hand, but I pretend not to see and tug my suit down over my own butt. Then in one big movement, I kick off my flip flops, throw down my swim bag, pull on my swim cap, and dive into the pool. After a couple of laps, I hear my name when my head comes up on a stroke.

    "Sammy!" Zee's calling.

    I stop and tread water and pretend the fluttering in my chest is from swimming too hard.

    He points to the end of the pool and performs a little dance movement on the deck. "Let's get it started, huh," he sings, like he's doing a karaoke version of the Black Eyed Peas. "Let's get it started in here!"

    I grin, swim to the end, grab my water bottle, and take a sip, glancing off to the viewing area. The boy is still watching. I recognize him from my new school, but it's suddenly less important and less irritating. Still, I bite back an urge to make a face at him.

    "Okay. Enough fooling around." Zee grins, and my insides perform a dance similar to the one he just did for me poolside. It's weird having him fill in for my private lesson with Coach Clair while she's away for her sister's wedding. He's only a few months older than me. And hot. But since he's the only guy on the Titans faster than me and Clair's assistants are busy she asked him to do it.

    I tell myself I only want to impress him because he's great in the water. But even I know it's a lie. He's yummier than a peppermint mocha with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

    "Okay. Let's see how you can fly, baby," he calls. "Go for two hundred at eighty-five percent."

    After the butterfly set, Zee instructs me to get on the block for a freestyle distance swim. As soon as I'm in position he yells, "Go."

    I dive in and streamline through the water, trying to blank out my mind and concentrate on kicking and pulling my arms, but the boy's face pops up as though he's connected to me by some invisible bond. My body drags a little, my concentration thrown off. I struggle to fight off the image and find my zone. Push through. Push. Push. Push.

    When my hands touch the end of the pool, Zee is leaning over me with a stopwatch. I stare up, waiting. I've got just over a month before the state meet. And I really want a record in free. Zee understands, the same way I understand his drive in the water. We've got goals and times to beat. It takes hard work.

    "Eight seconds off," he says.

    Panting, I tug off my cap and throw it at the ledge of the pool. Zee puts out his hand to help pull me out of the water. He lifts me up by the arm like it's nothing.

    "Don't look so bummed. You're close....

About the Author-

  • Janet Gurtler lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and son and a puppy blessed with cuteness rather than brains. Janet does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says "eh" a lot. Visit janetgurtler.blogspot.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2012
    Samantha feels so guilty after her kiss actually kills a boy that she ends her champion swimming career. Sam doesn't normally go to parties or kiss boys. She's really attracted to Zee, another swimmer, but he ignores her, so she kisses Alex instead. Alex immediately gasps for breath and dies on the way to the hospital. It turns out that he had a peanut allergy, and Sam had eaten a peanut-butter sandwich just before the party. She didn't know about Alex's allergy but blames herself anyway, as do many of her schoolmates. Sam believes she doesn't deserve to continue with the swim team, even though she's close to setting national records. Some stand up for her, such as wealthy, handsome Casper, who wants to be more than friends. Even as Sam makes some unfortunate choices, she gets help from several friends, a grief counselor and her Aunt Allie, a professional psychic. Relationships tangle and untangle while Sam slowly works her way toward forgiving herself, long after Alex's family has forgiven her. Gurtler demonstrates sensitivity toward her characters and insight into their emotional responses to their friend's death. Although her high-school villains seem a bit one-dimensional, the rest of the characters breathe with life. Skeptics will curl their lips at the psychic element, but there is enough realism to keep them involved. A touching story. (Fiction. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2012

    Gr 8 Up-It's a fresh start for competitive swimmer Samantha as she leaves untrue rumors that she is gay behind and enters a new high school. At her friend Taylor's party, she flirts with Alex to make Zee, the boy she really likes, jealous. The flirting leads to a kiss, and suddenly Alex can't breathe. The paramedics' arrival is shockingly too late to save him. Soon Sam learns of his severe peanut allergy-and realizes she ate a peanut-butter sandwich before leaving for the party. Sam becomes the victim of merciless taunting as the "peanut butter killer." She sinks into depression, refuses to swim, and has an essentially empty relationship with Casper, with whom she has her first sexual experience, attempting to alleviate painful guilt before realizing that he is romantically involved with other girls. Little by little, with the help of her quirky Aunt Allie, a helpful therapist, and even Zee, Sam comes to terms with Alex's death. She moves beyond her mistake with Casper and starts to swim again. She also confronts her father and discovers the truth about her mother's death, which has haunted her for years. Autopsy results ultimately reveal the real truth behind Alex's death, but Sam still steps up to fight for food-allergy awareness. Readers able to bypass the rather excessive maltreatment Sam receives after what truly is an accident will be immersed in her unique and disconcerting situation and will be absorbed in her struggle for personal redemption, self-acceptance, and hope.Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Live to Read "The interactions and complicated relationships after a friend's death make Who I Kissed a fascinating story. The reader will be rooting for Samantha to forgive herself."
  • Mundie Moms "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."
  • Bewitched Bookworms "Who I Kissed was a powerful, heart wrenching book full of emotions"
  • Jean Book Nerd "Not only was Samantha likable and relatable, she felt authentically real."
  • Shortie Says "Who I Kissed by far exceeded any expectation I had for it . . . an intense journey of a girl whose one decision changed her life but not for the worst."
  • Book Passion for Life "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."
  • Books with Bite "Fueled by a portrayal of lust and hurt, it makes you think twice about your actions. Who I Kissed is a serious yet great story that everyone can get into."
  • School Library Journal "Readers . . . will be immersed in her unique and disconcerting situation and will be absorbed in her struggle for personal redemption, self-acceptance, and hope."

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