ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: Kissing Max Holden
Author: Katy Upperman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publishing: August 1, 2017 (Swoon Reads)
Format: Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Source: e-ARC from Netgalley
“Just like that, I forget all the reasons why kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.”
“Jilly. . . if you tell me to go home, I will.”
After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. His long-time friend Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. So when he climbs through her window one night, she knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she does. When they’re caught in the act by her dad, she swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.
With a new baby sibling on the way, and her parents fighting all the time, Jillian spends more and more time with Max. And not kissing Max is easier said than done, even though she knows he still has a girlfriend. Will Jill follow her heart, and allow their kisses to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden altogether?
Between the synopsis and cover (hello, gorgeous!), as soon as I discovered Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman, I KNEW that I needed to read this book. I enjoyed this read, although I did have some issues with it.
The premise of Kissing Max Holden was part of the draw for me. I generally enjoy the ‘friends-to-something-more’ literary trope. Jillian Eldridge and Max Holden were neighbors and best of friends for the 10 years that they lived across the street from each other. They grew apart a little more recently, but high school and family drama tend to have that effect on some relationships. When they needed someone, though, they only had to look as far as their friend across the street. But, the dynamics of their relationship changed one night after Max kissed Jillian…and she let him.
After reading the book’s description, it was not hard to figure out the direction the plot would lead. I was left wanting more of Jillian and Max, though. Obviously, this is their story, but I, personally, did not get enough of their evolved relationship. In fact, when I realized I was a couple of chapters from finishing the book, I felt a pang of disappointment that there was not enough time or pages left to focus on Jillian and Max as Jillian and Max (I am trying to avoid spoilers, but it is difficult to explain this without a hint of it). We got plenty of the push and pull, but I wanted more elaboration on the good times.
Generally speaking (errr…typing), I liked Jillian and Max. They were flawed, which added to their appeal. Both of their families were experiencing pretty significant strife and, of course, high school can be cruel. All of those struggles were reflected in their characters. I found that to be realistic and endearing. Who doesn’t wear at least a little of their heart on their sleeve?! That being said, sometimes the drama seemed like a bit much. Again, I was hoping for more of a focus on Jillian and Max’s relationship. I completely understand that these experiences added to the development of their relationship, but Kissing Max Holden seemed like it was full of more sadness and anger than happiness.
Here are a few other things I really enjoyed:
- Jillian’s passion for baking;
- The bond that grew between Jillian and her step-mom;
- The character maturation, especially with Jillian and Max;
- The friends-to-something-more and boy next door tropes;
- Max (with his head on straight) is totally swoon-worthy; and
- The main group of Jillian and Max’s friends/how supportive they were of each other.
Now, here are a few other things I wasn’t thrilled about:
- The amount of hating amongst the girls (I kept looking for some explanation for this, and at times there was a reason for the immense dislike, but the initial, immediate appearance of hate was a little confusing);
- The amount of infidelity and the attempts at justification for it; and
- There was animosity from Max towards Kyle early on that I didn’t understand (they were friends and Max confided in Kyle at other times, but the only thing I could think of was the animosity was Katy’s way of hinting to us readers that Max was jones-ing for Jillian and had a case of jealousy due to Kyle’s close friendship with Jillian).
There were a few things about the story that broke my heart. These were not things that I disliked, by any means, but they absolutely crushed me:
- Jillian’s college fund (I will not say more, due to spoilers);
- Max’s dad; and
- Jake the jerk (’nuff said!).
Before I wrap up this review, let me share a personal tidbit that may help you understand why I found Kissing Max Holden relatable:
My fiance and I were very close friends for about 10 years (through college and beyond) before we caved and started dating! I understood that awkwardness that “Jilly” and Max experienced due to the shifting dynamics of their relationship, and I had a similar desire to keep things on the DL for a little while. When Max explained to Jillian that he already knows all of her shit, which he liked, I recalled when I said the exact same thing to my fiance when we first started to hang out as more-than-friends. This, obviously, won’t have an effect on YOUR feelings towards this book, but it had an effect on mine.
Overall, I found this to be a quick, enjoyable read. I like when I am driven to keep reading because I am on the edge of my seat about what will happen next, and I got that here, especially as Jillian and Max’s relationship evolved. I found aspects of the plot to be identifiable, and I always think that is a plus for YA Contemporary reads. The issues I mentioned are what caused me to lower my rating, but I would still recommend this book to others. So, on that note, Kissing Max Holden comes out August 1, 2017 — check it out! Until next time… xo
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced galley of this book. Please note that it, in no way, affected my opinion or review.