I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston, narrated by Natalie Naudus

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I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston, narrated by Natalie Naudus

An excellent narration raised my overall enjoyment of the story

This was one of my most anticipated audiobooks of the year. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston was one of my favourite books of 2021, it was a magnificent story, with a great cast, original and full of emotion. When I realised that a new book was coming with the audio version narrated by Natalie Naudus, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

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Chloe Green is a month away from high school graduation and has only one objective, to win valedictorian. There’s only one person who can beat her, Shara Wheeler, the school principal’s daughter. When Shara kisses her and then vanishes, Chloe will try to untangle the trail of clues with the help of two other people Shara kissed…

This is a Young Adult, come-of-age, enemies-to-lovers story with the setting of a conservative small town in Alabama. I’m not normally a YA reader so I have to say that I’m not the proper demographic audience for this book, but I’ve enjoyed some YA stories in the past so it was worth a try. Even though this was very well written, I cannot say that I’ve enjoyed it as much as Ms. McQuiston’s previous book.

There is quite a bit to unpack in this story. To start with, there’s the mini-mystery of Shara’s disappearance which kept me listening but unfortunately fizzled out towards the middle of the book. Then there is the relationship between Chloe and Shara, which is the typical enemies-to-lovers in a teenage setting and finally, there’s the context of a group of queer friends trying to navigate high school in a conservative religious institution that promotes homophobia. I thought that this was the best part of the book.

The enemies-to-lovers trope is hard to pull off as the readers have to be convinced that two characters who hate each other eventually find common ground and fall in love. In this case, because the characters are separated from each other in the first half of the book, I wasn’t convinced enough about the process of falling with each other which seems to happen mostly off-page. The author does a great job at showing both characters in their shortcomings, self-doubts and teenage angst, so much so, that sometimes it’s hard to like them. However, the cast of secondary characters, like in One Last Stop, is absolutely fabulous and steals the story.

Natalie Naudus narrated this book and did an incredible job. She’s amazing at performing all the teenage angst and emotions. I love the nuances of her tone, the pacing, and even the breathing. Ms. Naudus displays an energy that is perfect for a YA story. Once again, an excellent narration raised my overall enjoyment of the story. 4 stars.

Length: 9 hours, 24 minutes.

Available in Scribd

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuistonI Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

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