October 25, 2012

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler + Author Guest Post: Coming Up for Air

Who I Kissed
She never thought a kiss could kill...

Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in...and she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms.

Was she really the only person in the entire school who didn’t know about his peanut allergy? Or that eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing him would be deadly? Overnight Sam turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she’ll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.

My Thoughts/Review:

Who I Kissed was a book that had a very interesting premise (hello, girl kisses boy, boy dies of peanut allergy), but I thought that it could've been better. I struggled with rating this book, because I really liked it, but there were a few distracting grammatical errors. (Yes, I know. I'm not one to talk.) They were just...distracting.

Other than the grammatical errors, this book definitely followed through with it's rockin' awesome premise! We do need more awareness about these kinds of issues! (I'm not a fan of the ban peanuts because of one child's allergies, but people do need to know that some children are deathly allergic.) Now, because of the unique premise (I've only ever read one other book similar to this), I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, besides an allergic death, and a heart-broken heroine.

In fact, when I began this book, I was curious about who was going to die. (I clearly didn't read the summary.) And when it happened, I was truly surprised! I thought that it was going to be someone else, so I wasn't truly prepared for it, and, well. I was sad for his family.

Now, I'm sure that you'd like to read about the characters now--Samantha was amazing. Just when you thought she was going to go all weepy on you, she pulled herself together and went on. Not to say that she wasn't depressed, it's just that the author handled it in such an authentic way that you really wanted her to feel better, not worse. I thought that she did a fine job with Samantha's character development, and that I couldn't have picked a better heroine for this story myself.

Zee--where to start? I also thought that he was surprisingly developed, considering that he wasn't exactly a main character. He was a big part of the story, but as the book was only told through Samantha's view, I was surprised at the amount of depth that all the secondary characters showed.

All in all, I'm glad that I was invited to this blog tour, because I've got no doubt that it would've taken me a while to pick this up on my own. And it really, truly delivered.

Favorite Quote:
There's blood on my hands that can never be scrubbed away. There is no forgiveness for this. None. There is nothing that can bring back a life. A real person is gone. A real person who will never speak again.

*Guest Post*
Janet Gurtler

Janet lives near the Canadian Rockies with her husband and son and a little dog named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot. 

Janet only gives 5 stars to the books she reviews because she is an author herself and knows that no book can appeal to everyone, but like a child, it is very special to the creator.

Coming up for Air:  Gurtler explores her inspiration for the book and her character development of a girl who has to learn to forgive herself for a tragic mistake that upends so many lives.

I haven’t made a secret of the fact that this book was inspired by my son, Max, a cool dude who happens to have a severe peanut allergy.  This book takes my worst fears and puts them it into action. I used to joke with Max that before he kisses a girl, he has to ask her what she had for lunch. Or dinner.  He doesn’t find it funny anymore.

We did have a talk when I decided to write this book. I told him that though it was fiction, it was partly to raise awareness of the dangers that kids with allergies face. And I told him of course, that it was something I never ever wanted to him to deal with. So no kissing girls.  Ever. Ha ha. Not really the last part. He didn’t find that funny either.

Long before the character of Sam came to life for me, I remember hearing a story in the news, similar to the storyline in WHO I KISSED, about a child dying from a ‘peanut butter kiss’. It stuck with me as a parent of a peanut allergy kid. How horrifying it would be for everyone. Including the child who accidentally caused a death. I also remember hearing a story about a kid at a birthday party who died when the knife used to cut the cake (peanut free cake) was tainted with peanut butter.  I don’t know if that story was true, but when you have a child with allergies those types of things make an impression.

As a parent of a kid with severe food allergies, you get used to people who don’t understand the severity of the allergy. People who complain about not being able to take a peanut butter sandwich to a peanut free school when it is “all their child will eat.”  On one level, I totally get that. Confession. I LOVE peanut butter. But on the other hand, something innocent has the potential to cause my child harm, or even cause death and I don’t want to let that happen. I’ve had to shake off my loathing to make people uncomfortable. I have to speak up. I understand that most people don’t mean harm when they send a peanut butter sandwich to school or open a bag of peanuts beside me in the airport. But I have to ask them to put away peanuts or nuts when my son is around. Or to ask their kids to wash their hands after eating something with nuts before playing with my son.

My strongest argument for why other people should care is -- how would YOU feel if your child (or you) caused the death of my son. I know I would feel pretty darn awful (to put it mildly), but what would it do to your child and/or you? How could a child possibly deal with something like that? How could a parent possibly deal with their role in something like that?  And the thing is, it’s possible.

It’s about taking ownership of that possibility, but also dealing with the consequences of a very honest mistake.  WHO I KISSED looks at how an innocent girl, who unwillingly and unknowingly is involved in the death of a boy who dies. A boy who is allergic to peanuts.  It’s about thinking how that would affect you? How would you cope? What would you do?

Ultimately, like most of the books I write, I think there’s also hope in this book. And some lighter moments too. I created two characters, Aunt Allie and Fredrick to help Samantha deal and also to help the reader deal with the emotional intensity of the book.  Plus there’s hot boys. I like them too.

This post is a part of:
*This book was provided for review by Sourcebooks Fire.

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  1. Ahahah..Love the book..Definately getting it..xD

    1. That's awesome! Have you read it yet? Buy it, buy it! :D :D