Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
St. Martin’s Publishing
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
ISBN: 9781250244451

At the beginning of her freshman year, Chloe Green and her moms move from California to small town Alabama. Although it is not her scene, Chloe enrolls at Willowgrove Christian Academy which has excellent academics. There she is able to find her people through the drama club plus an academic rival in golden girl, Shara Wheeler – who disappears on senior prom night. Chloe and two unlikely allies, Smith, Shara’s boyfriend, and Rory, Shara’s neighbor, embark on a mission to find her before graduation. They must succeed, otherwise Chloe’s near certain valedictory triumph will ring hollow. Includes an author note at the beginning with content warnings of religious trauma and homophobia.

This suspenseful mystery/romance is an honest, funny, and ultimately hopeful look at high school life in a small town. Readers will recognize familiar high school tropes like the jocks or theater kids but the characters, both primary and secondary, are multi-dimensional and layered. The dialogue is banter-filled and engaging and the hating to dating storylines feel authentic. The reader will be carried along with Chloe, Smith, and Rory as they try to unravel the mystery of Shara’s disappearance before the looming deadline of graduation.

Give I Kissed Shara Wheeler to fans of Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson and Casey McQuiston’s other books (especially Red, White and Royal Blue).

Elizabeth Webster (she/her)

Other Nominated Titles:

  • All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir (01/03/2022)
  • Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne (11/01/2021)
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (09/21/2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.