* * *
No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.
Until Claire meets Luke.
But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.
With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.
In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.
When Claire heads out to the field to warm up for a scrimmage, she runs into a super hot guy she’s never seen before. Not only is New Guy Luke a great soccer player, he and Claire seem to connect on a much personal level. Including their dysfunctional families. Luke comes from an abusive home and Claire’s family is still suffering the tragic loss of her baby brother.
The next day at lunch, Claire’s best friend (and most popular girl in school), Megan, informs their group that she met a new a guy. That guy ends up being Luke, the only guy Claire has been truly attracted to in almost two years. As friends, they lay some ground rules. The main rule being that neither of them will make a move. They’ll let Luke decide. Of course, neither of them follows the rules they set. Just when you think Luke and Claire are hitting it off, Megan swoops in and takes him home. Obviously there is a little more to the story than that but you get the idea.
But Luke isn’t everything he appears to be. The signs are there in the way he treats Megan. But Claire is convinced that she and Luke have a true connection and that it will be different for them. So when Luke and Megan break up, Claire swoops in a hot second. This causes a huge rift in their friendship as well Claire’s other relationships. Both at school and at home.
I had so many questions while reading this. How can Claire be okay with being second choice? Why would she want to be with a guy that shows interest in her but ignores her for the first direct offer he receives? Why would she want to be with a guy that treated her best friend like crap? How can two best friends put down ground rules when they like the same guy and then BOTH ignore those rules? How can friends treat each other way some of them treat each other in this book?
I could probably come up with more questions but I think you get the picture. I had a really hard time connecting with this book and its characters. I understand that the point of the story was to show the “complexities” of friendship, love and high school. And in the end, that story DID do that. But, I have to tell you, I avoided people and situations like this in high school so I certainly didn’t enjoy reading about it.
My overall feelings aside, there is a bit of humor in this book that I enjoyed (Claire and Luke’s first meeting had me rolling). And the flashbacks to all of Claire’s kisses that help tell her story with her friends and family will definitely fill you with a sense of nostalgia. Those things were enough to keep me turning the pages to see what happens next. If you enjoy contemporary YA and, unlike me, can handle stories of friendships that aren’t all rainbows and unicorns, you will probably enjoy 17 First Kisses.