Title & Author: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
Genre: YA- Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: ARC via Publisher
Description: 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?
This review contains SPOILERS BE WARNED
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was written really well! For being Upperman’s first book I was pleasantly surprised. The characters all had realistic flaws and were very fleshed out. I enjoyed watching Jill and Max’s growth as young adults. Especially Jill’s relationship with her step mother and Max’s eventual acceptance of his father’s situation. The portrayal of tragedy was well done as well. Seeing realistic issues and the strain on a family might have from a massive stroke was amazingly done. I also think that all emotions in this book were very true to realistic expectations save for Jill “getting over” her college fund being squandered so quickly.
Jill and Max do not have a perfect relationship. I think that was a huge plus (and also sometimes negative) for the book. Yes they get a shitty start, but when all obstacles are out of the way and they are officially together we don’t get a happily ever after. Which is good. Because that doesn’t happen. They fought, they argued, there was miscommunication which is all very real in a relationship. Especially a new one. What I didn’t like was the drama. So much damn drama. Half the drama could have been completely swept away if Jill was very a smidgen braver or stuck up for herself.
This book had a lot of infidelity. Which is one thing I really do not enjoy. As someone on the cheated on end these situations the whole idea of it in books really turns me off. That being said I hear a lot of really great things about this book so I thought “Why the hell not? I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Things we’re in fact, not fine.
I’m just going to go right out and say it, this book had two cases of cheating. Obviously Max and Jill, but also Jill’s father. Who did not cheat just once., but at least twice that we know of. Once on his first wife, Jill’s mother, which caused her to leave him. (Why she did not take Jillian with her and hence keep very minimal contact with her daughter is beyond me.) Secondly when his current wife is pregnant throughout the book. I think in all honesty I would have been “OK” with the book if it was just Jill and Max’s situation. They realize what they are doing is wrong (and actually Jill says so multiple times in the book) and Max tries to right his wrongs and comes clean with his girlfriend and ends their relationship. This does not right the wrongs of cheating but he stayed true and confessed so I’ll give him credit. With the lovely added bonus of us seeing how shitty Jillian’s father is, I just hit my tipping point.
I’m not sure if the addition of the father’s situation was meant to help Max and Jill see how wrong what they were doing was because I felt like Jill had a pretty clear idea just how wrong it was from the get go. She repeatedly tells Max she wont do anything with him while he has a boyfriend. Yes, hormones and feelings get in the way and they kiss. Often. But right from the start Jill was like “This is wrong.” Max on the other hand gets a slow realization over the course of the book.
Would I buy this book? No
Would I recommend it? It was a good coming of age/relationship journey book. If you can get over the cheating then I think others might like it. I’m curious to see what else Upperman will write.
Would I re-read it? No