July 11, 2017

Review: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication: August 1st, 2017 by Swoon Reads

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea...
After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn't let him kiss her. But she can't resist, and when they're caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it'll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.
With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

I want to be with you, now and next year and after, for as long as we’re happy.

So, I have to admit…I was unfair to this book. I let it sit on my shelf for several weeks because I looked at the cover and the title and just thought, “I don’t want to read fluff right now.” That’s what I thought this book would be. Pure fluff. This is not to say there’s anything wrong with fluff – it has its place. But I assumed this book would lack depth and I was wrong.

Kissing Max Holden was absolutely adorable, but also sad and just flat out real. The characters are so raw and real that I felt like I knew them personally. In fact, I felt like they were plucked right out of my teenage years. They are not perfect, but they are good people who are in pain. Everything from the emotions and struggles of the characters to their language is absolutely on point. 

The one issue I had with this book – and to be honest it might be what keeps it from getting a higher rating from me – is the vilification of Max’s girlfriend. It comes from all angles – Jillian, all of their friends, and sometimes Max himself. She is never given a single redeeming quality, and the way she is blamed for everything got very, very frustrating. Classic “girlfriend/boyfriend is absolutely terrible so that absolves us for cheating” trope. The author does bring it full circle in a few moments of self-awareness for each of the main characters, but I still wish it had been addressed a bit more.  

Kissing Max Holden is an endearing story with raw and realistic characters that you will grow to love. This book isn’t even out yet but I need Upperman’s next book like, yesterday.

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