I'm Thalia! I run a book blog called Pictures in the Words and I hope to be an editor for YA fiction. I'm a GoodReads refugee!
This is another book that I finished approximately a year and a half ago, and I have exactly two status updates for it on Booklikes… This review will be short and to-the-point (as three-star reviews tend to be anyway).
On the plus side, I thought this was an interesting storyline that raises some awareness for kids with allergies. Eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing someone are not two events I would ever connect, and Gurtler brings the details together in a way that fits nicely. Sam’s family really made this enjoyable to me, and I always appreciate when parents or other family members take the spotlight sometimes in books (family usually ends up on the back burner in YA, unfortunately). Sam’s dad and her aunt helped her grow and find peace, which I appreciated.
However, I was disappointed that the peanut allergy is not what actually killed Alex, but rather severe asthma coupled with his decision to smoke weed that night. It didn’t necessarily eliminate my sympathy for Alex himself, but I was definitely pissed about it. It dropped my sympathy down to about 2% because if you have severe asthma, you should not be smoking weed. Anyway, the only reason I was kind of upset that Sam’s kiss did not kill Alex is because she could find more growth had it actually been her fault. Sam only comes to terms with what happened after she discovers she’s innocent, and she only addresses Alex’s death by writing him a letter after she finds out what really happened. I would have loved to see her find closure while still believing it was all her fault. As it is, I feel like maybe Sam never really learned to accept and love herself again for what had happened, and that’s the only thing I really wanted to see happen.
Overall: This is not my favorite book from Gurtler, but still a pretty decent read. It addresses an interesting subject matter, so it wins points for creativity. It also brings in the main character’s family in a way very few YA books do. However, it could have gone much further in terms of character development (not just from Sam, but from most of the side characters, too). Overall, fairly average. It wouldn’t be my first recommendation when it comes to Gurtler’s work or contemporary YA, but I also wouldn’t necessarily advise you to steer clear!