Review: I kissed Shara Wheeler, by Casey McQuiston

“[it’s] proof that Shara does, when she’s home at night in her powder-blue room, brushing her hair and painting her nails and winding a rubber band three times around a stack of study cards, think about Chloe. And that feels like winning.”

Publisher: Wednesday books (US), Pan MacMillan (UK)

Release date: May 3rd 2022

Pages: 351

Representation: LGBTQIA+ (Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Non-binary.), Black side-character

Trigger warnings: Homophobia, Religious Bigotry.

Summary: Chloe Green doesn’t have much after moving to a small town in Alabama; she has her moms, a few friends, and her grades. Her grades that mean she’s about to become valedictorian, as long as she can beat out Willowgrove Christian Academy’s picture-perfect popular-girl Shara Wheeler. When Shara runs away on the night of their senior prom, Chloe’s about to discover that there’s much more to this small town-and to Shara-then she ever realised. 

Purchase the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I kissed Shara Wheeler is a quiet thrill, that leaves you with a lipstick stain on your collar and a need for more. 

I have complicated feelings about this book, because almost everything I can say about it would make it seem like I didn’t like it-but I loved it.

Casey’s prose were excellent, and the writing was both easy to read yet entirely intricate. The words on the page came to life, and It’s definitely convinced me to read her other books (no, i haven’t read Red, white and royal blue yet-oops) 

The main issue was that for a book described as an “LGBT gone girl”, the mystery element fell flat. I was enjoying following the clues, watching the characters figure out the mystery and then it just….stopped. There was a huge build-up with no dramatic climax and I’m still frustrated over it. That isn’t to say the ending wasn’t okay; It was enjoyable, but it wasn’t as climatic as I would have liked. It was like lighting a firework and it fizzling out too early. 

Everything else in the book does it’s best to make up for the lack of explosion. It covers so many important topics in so may important ways, and hits you with a dose of reality on every page. It’s rare for queer kids in the Bible Belt to be told that’s it’s okay to still love your home, it’s okay to like your family; It sucks that many people there are trying to take away LGBTQIA+ rights, but that doesn’t mean these kids have to tuck away and hide any part of who they are. They shouldn’t feel ashamed about who they love OR where they’re from. This book is the first one I’ve seen to tell kids that. It’s also rare for an LGBTQIA+ book to show all its cards. So many LGBTQIA+ books are expected to be perfect; they need to have perfect characters, perfect stories, perfect authors. This book isn’t just a story to all the queer kids that need it, but to any other LGBTQIA+ books out there. 

The character’s were, honestly, a mess. This wasn’t a bad thing. I loved them, and at times I hated every single one of them-even Smith, the adorable, sensitive Jock. It almost ruined my enjoyment of the book, but that was before I realised that these characters weren’t meant to be perfect. I’ve spent so much time reading books with characters that are perfectly imperfect, or perfectly evil, or perfectly romantic. They were meant to be real-and they were. They were harsh, confusing, honest, mean and a million other things-but in the end I loved them all the more for it. 

‘I kissed Shara Wheeler’ isn’t afraid to have complicated, morally unsure characters that are all trying their best. Publishing needs more of Shara Wheeler.

Its shining glory: It’s entirely unapologetic. It presents a world of teenagers that aren’t perfect and don’t have to be, and makes us love them anyway.    

Its fatal flaw: The switch from focus on the original plot to secondary plot feels abrupt, and like everything that happened in the previous 300 pages was almost redundant. It definitely took away from the mood and suspense that the earlier part of the book had started, and expected you to switch with it. 

Read this if: You want an LGBT coming of age story that offers more than romance. You like mystery, but are happy with endings that don’t get tied in a bow. 

Skip this if: You don’t like the enemies-to-lovers dynamic. You like there to be clear story progression with a beginning, middle and end that all gets wrapped up nicely. 

Purchase the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: