Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

Monday, May 19, 2014
Why I Chose this Book:
I have come to the realization that I snub my nose at chick-lit too much. I know that I should be a well-rounded reader, and I chose this month to read at least 2-3 contemporary novels. This was a freebee I got on Edelweiss, so I decided to give it a shot. And dear God, I wish I hadn’t. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Publish Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Kindle ARC 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/Realistic
B&N || Amazon || Indiebound

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. (Goodreads)

Just to preface, this review is going to be full of ranting and raving about how upset I am about this book, so if that is not something you’re into (including minor spoilers), you should skip reading and just know not to waste your money and time on this book.

5 things you need to know about this book

1. Misleading Synopsis
This book was not okay on so many levels I nearly stopped reading it. The only reason why I finished it was so I could write a review over it. Good job to whoever mentioned Stephanie Perkins in the synopsis, because that was the reason why I took a chance on it since I’ve heard such great things about her work. But like most synopses that name drop, it fell desperately short. Even the synopsis itself is extremely misleading. I thought Claire was going to be a sweet girl, but she ended up being a popular girl right next to her best friend Megan, who -much like Claire -acted like a complete B*.

2. Abusive Relationships are Poorly Handled
Abusive relationships aren’t like Allen portrays in her book. Well, I won’t generalize it like that -most abusive relationships aren’t like she presents it in the book. Allen could have gone into so much more detail about the emotional and physical reactions to being in an abusive relationship, and even into the manipulation abusive boyfriends tend to use on girls. But Allen didn’t do anything like this. She made the relationship out to be a funny thing after it was all over. 

This made my blood boil. This is a book primarily for teenagers. These teenagers are being taught that it’s still the girl’s fault if she gets raped, so what the hell is this book trying to tell girls about abusive relationships? I mean seriously? Abusive relationships should not be romanticized in any way, even if it’s just in a minor way.

Furthermore, Claire's friendship with Megan is not what friendship should be about. It shows a very skewed version of friendship that is based on selfish desires and not on a mutually giving partnership.

3. What is up with these characters?
These character were just terrible. There was no depth, no growth, no self-discovery really. There were multiple times she could have taken advantage of good material to go in depth with theses character, but she never took it. (1) She gave Luke a verbally abusive dad, but didn’t go into how that shaped him as a character; it is only implied. (2) Claire had a mom who was severely depressed -she touched on this the most, but it didn’t do much for me in way of shedding light on her character. (3) Megan is as close to a bimbo without being a bimbo as you can get with no development either.

4. Megan and Claire and teenage sex
The friendship between Megan and Claire is so jacked up. They act like stupid preteens with promises they never intend to keep and hormones they never even try to keep in check. They think, and the author supports, that messing around and having sex is what everyone does, as if it’s a rite of passage. Allen presents this facet of the book with absolutely no repercussions. She paints both of the characters (though Claire is still a virgin) as sexual teens, but she never shows the impact of sex or sexual actions and what it can do to people emotionally. 

5. Other Minor Rants
    A) You don’t screw over your best friend for a boy. That’s a no-no. But screwing over your best friend twice? Something is seriously wrong. No high schooler who wants to graduate alive (socially and otherwise) does crap like this.
    B) You don’t kiss all of your ex-boyfriend’s buddies in order to get back at him. Like really? Claire even leads on one of the poor guys. Once again, she shows how selfish she is.
    C) Peer Pressure GALORE! Claire and Megan are the popular girls in school, and much like the stereotype, they are as helpless as a fairytale damsel when it comes to peer pressure. Claire is constantly listening to peer pressure, even when she knows it’s not right -even to the certain extent that she ponders if rape is okay. Yeah, NO! There is absolutely no strength of character to be had in this novel except for one person (Sam), but there is almost no development for him, and he’s sadly flat.

Final Thoughts
I’m almost as disappointed in HarperTeen for picking this book up as I am at Rachael Allen for thinking that the issues she mentions in her book is okay for anyone let alone teenagers to read. I would not in any way recommend this book. It wasn’t even good writing in my opinion. You people may find my review harsh, but I can’t tell you how angry, offended, and frustrated I am that this book was even picked up to publish let alone written with the idea that this thought process is still found valid in our society today.

I gave this book 1 star on my Goodreads.


  1. I'm glad you commented on my review of 17 First Kisses because, honestly, when I read all the raving reviews about this book on Goodreads, I have to wonder if I read a completely different book. The mention of Stephanie Perkins in the blurb actually pissed me off as I read this, because no. Just no. This book was no Stephanie Perkins book. Her books are full of rich characters and good friendships and self-discovery. This book was full of obnoxious, naive characters who wouldn't know "good friendship" if it bit them. Except Sam. I heart Sam.

    This was a really, really frustrating read. Even more frustrating is all the raving people are doing about it. Maybe it's my age, but this one just didn't work for me.

    1. I know right?! I felt like everyone loved their friendship, and I was sooooo confused, because who wants to be constantly competing with a best friend? Oh and then that Stephanie Perkins blurb... I was so frustrated. It's like dragging her name through the mud.

      People are calling for awards for 17 First Kisses, and all I can think is "No! Don't sully the awards with such a terrible title!" I'm glad I'm not the only one that had issues with this book! :)


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