Who I Kissed

Who I Kissed

by Janet Gurtler


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402270543
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 10/01/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Janet Gurtler lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and son and a puppy blessed with cuteness rather than brains. Janet does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says "eh" a lot. Visit janetgurtler.blogspot.com.

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

A loud thunk from the viewing area startles me as I flip-flop from the locker room to the pool deck. I glance over to see a boy dropping to the ground from the high top of the bleachers. He's staring at me, not even trying to hide it by sneaking in little peeks the way most boys do when they see girls in bathing suits. As he straightens himself up, he grins, and it's mischievous and cute but makes me très uncomfortable. Boys didn't show off or stare at me at my old school or swim club. They had no reason to. But things are different now, and this guy doesn't take his eyes off me.

The attention makes me feel naked, and not because the only thing covering my body is a thin layer of high-performance microfiber. His gaze is intense, as if my thoughts are appearing over my head in cartoon-like bubbles. I certainly hope they aren't, because the thought that he has a nice butt may have recently passed through my mind.

He lifts his hand, but I pretend not to see and tug my suit down over my own butt. Then in one big movement, I kick off my flip flops, throw down my swim bag, pull on my swim cap, and dive into the pool. After a couple of laps, I hear my name when my head comes up on a stroke.

"Sammy!" Zee's calling.

I stop and tread water and pretend the fluttering in my chest is from swimming too hard.

He points to the end of the pool and performs a little dance movement on the deck. "Let's get it started, huh," he sings, like he's doing a karaoke version of the Black Eyed Peas. "Let's get it started in here!"

I grin, swim to the end, grab my water bottle, and take a sip, glancing off to the viewing area. The boy is still watching. I recognize him from my new school, but it's suddenly less important and less irritating. Still, I bite back an urge to make a face at him.

"Okay. Enough fooling around." Zee grins, and my insides perform a dance similar to the one he just did for me poolside. It's weird having him fill in for my private lesson with Coach Clair while she's away for her sister's wedding. He's only a few months older than me. And hot. But since he's the only guy on the Titans faster than me and Clair's assistants are busy she asked him to do it.

I tell myself I only want to impress him because he's great in the water. But even I know it's a lie. He's yummier than a peppermint mocha with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

"Okay. Let's see how you can fly, baby," he calls. "Go for two hundred at eighty-five percent."

After the butterfly set, Zee instructs me to get on the block for a freestyle distance swim. As soon as I'm in position he yells, "Go."

I dive in and streamline through the water, trying to blank out my mind and concentrate on kicking and pulling my arms, but the boy's face pops up as though he's connected to me by some invisible bond. My body drags a little, my concentration thrown off. I struggle to fight off the image and find my zone. Push through. Push. Push. Push.

When my hands touch the end of the pool, Zee is leaning over me with a stopwatch. I stare up, waiting. I've got just over a month before the state meet. And I really want a record in free. Zee understands, the same way I understand his drive in the water. We've got goals and times to beat. It takes hard work.

"Eight seconds off," he says.

Panting, I tug off my cap and throw it at the ledge of the pool. Zee puts out his hand to help pull me out of the water. He lifts me up by the arm like it's nothing.

"Don't look so bummed. You're close. Your kick is strong. And your breathing was good."

"Thanks." Our eyes lock, and I can't help a silly smile. I glance toward the viewing area to hide it. The boy is gone, but my dad is in his place. He catches my eye and points at his watch. It's exactly 5:00. When he picks me up, he's rarely late.

Zee follows my glance. "Sergeant is here, right on time."

I roll my shoulder back and lift my arm to cover my smile. The nickname is fitting, but admitting it would make me kind of a traitor.

"Make sure you stretch out. I'd do it with you, but your dad would probably jump over the railing to take me down." Zee grins and then turns and walks away. "Work on those streamlines, Miss Waxman," he calls loud enough for my dad to hear. As he strides to the coach's poolside locker, the muscles ripple across his bare back. No wonder girls go crazy for him.

Ignoring my dad's impatience, I pull my hamstrings out and extend my arms in the air to stretch out my sides. After a few more stretches, I slip on my flip flops and watch Zee take something from the locker, close the door, and walk back to me. I'm stowing my goggles and swim cap in my bag as he approaches.

"Hold out your hand," he says in a deep, rich voice that sounds like he gargles daily with sexy juice. I glance at my dad, but he's frowning at his BlackBerry. Zee reaches over and tucks a lumpy package into my hand. A bag of Jelly Bellys. My heart does a tiny dance of happiness. Yesterday he'd been messing with me that I had no vices, and I'd admitted an addiction to the jelly beans.

"You deserve them," Zee says. His cheeks redden a little under his dark skin. "You're the most disciplined girl I know."

"Thanks." My belly continues to twirl with delight. From the corner of my eye, I see my dad look up from his phone, frowning.

"Kind of cute too. Like a pit bull puppy." His teasing words make my insides feel like I've been sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Warm and comforted.

"Aww. You just compared me to a vicious dog."

I don't tell him I'll be analyzing the significance of the jelly beans and his comment for the next week. I don't tell him it's pretty much the first present I've ever gotten from a boy. Well, except in tenth grade, when a new boy at school who hadn't heard the gay rumors about me asked me out.

When I was thirteen, a girl on another swim team told everyone she saw me making out with a girl in the locker room. She was mad because I'd beaten her record for Washington state. It was a total lie, but it got around my school and the boys embellished it. Since I was shy around boys, everyone chose to believe it.

But this boy hadn't heard yet. His name was Pete, and he was sweet and had dark skin, beautiful teeth, and a flirty personality. I'd tripped over him at my locker on his first day. He asked me on a date and brought me a flower. I still have it pressed into a book.

He'd been so cool, handling my scowling dad with a couple of well-played jokes. He took me for pizza and laser tag. While we were hiding out in the dark from vicious five-year-olds on laser-shooting missions, he'd kissed me.

The next day, when kids from school heard we went out, he'd been teased relentlessly for trying to convert the lesbian. He never asked me out again. Soon after that he started hanging out with Emma Henderson. Far as I knew, they were still together.

"Pit bulls are actually really cute and sweet when bred properly." Zee's eyes stay on me as I grab my swim bag, slide the jelly beans into a pouch, and sling the bag over my shoulder.

"I'm not even going to try to figure out if you actually thought that was a compliment," I say.

"It was." His grin disarms me, and I look down at the chipping blue polish on my toes.

"So. Clair's back tomorrow," he adds.

I glance up, but before I can mask any tell-tale signs of disappointment, his eyes twinkle knowingly. My insides melt faster than a Slurpee on a sunny day.

"Aw. You will miss our private time together," he says with the ease of someone who medaled in teasing.

I hide a smile and start toward the locker rooms. "I doubt that," I call over my shoulder, aware that he's probably checking out my glutes. Thank goodness for dry land training. I faux-glare at him, and he lifts his shoulder innocently and grins, even though he's clearly busted.

I waggle a finger in the air. "You're one of the first things I was warned about."

"I'm not nearly as bad as Clair makes me out to be," he protests.

"Clair didn't say a word about you. I got my warnings from writing on the girls' locker room walls." Too bad my heart and my hormones are ignoring the warnings, real or not.

It both horrifies and amuses me that I turn into an amateur flirt around him. But he's so easy to talk to. He opens his mouth and looks a little panicked until a snorty laugh bursts out of me. God. Can I be any less sexy?

"I'm only kidding, Zee."

From the deck, Dad waves and points at his watch again, subtle as a two-foot shark fin, so I hurry to the locker room. After a quick shower, I sit for a moment on the bench outside my locker with my towel wrapped around me. Public swimming doesn't start for another hour, so I'm all alone with empty lockers. I slide out the package of jelly beans Zee gave me, rip the plastic off the corner with my teeth, and down a handful, enjoying the explosion of flavors. It's hard to wipe a smile off my face, even though it's silly. Girls swarm Zee. Candy doesn't mean he's going to ask me to be his girlfriend. We have a special connection because of water.

Finally I drop my towel, along with thoughts of him, and pull on clothes, tugging my team hoodie over my head. I step over to the mirror, brush out my hair, and pull it back into an elastic, all except the thin, long braid knotted into my grown-out bangs. The thin braid I dyed almost white with a home hair color kit usually dangles down in my eyes. It's held at the end by tiny colored elastics. The braid is the only thing on me that isn't completely boring. Dad doesn't love it, but it's less permanent than the shoulder tattoo of the American flag I keep begging for. He says I can get that when I make it to the Olympics. Ha ha. Chlorine and winning are what my dad sees for me and my future.

When I head out the doors, Dad's pacing outside the locker room. He's on the phone and so immersed in the call, he doesn't hear me approach. My cell makes a cheering sound, my setting for an incoming text, but I ignore it for a moment.

"She doesn't need to know, and that's final," he barks into the phone. The hair on my arms stands up, and he looks up and clears his throat. "Sam is done in the locker room," he says to the cell phone. "I'll talk to you later." He clicks the phone off and puts it in his pocket, watching me the entire time.

The only person he usually talks to that way is his sister. My Aunt Allie.

"Who was that?" I ask.

"No one." He waves a hand in the air, dismissing my question. "Let's go."

It's obvious he's keeping something from me. As usual. "Whatever," I mumble, but he ignores me.

"How was practice?"


It's obvious he's not listening, and I'm tempted to say something rude to see if he notices. But of course I don't. As we head to the exit, I glance at the text that came in. A flock of nervous butterflies takes flight in my belly.

My night may have just got a lot more interesting.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Gurtler demonstrates sensitivity toward her characters and insight into their emotional responses . . . the characters breathe with life." - Kirkus

"The interactions and complicated relationships after a friend's death make Who I Kissed a fascinating story. The reader will be rooting for Samantha to forgive herself." - Live to Read

"It's a story that includes first kisses, the first kisses you wish you got, new romances, hope, hate, bullies, crushes, family relationships, and so much more. Most importantly it's book about forgiving and moving one." - Mundie Moms

"Who I Kissed was a powerful, heart wrenching book full of emotions" - Bewitched Bookworms

"Not only was Samantha likable and relatable, she felt authentically real." - Jean Book Nerd

"Who I Kissed by far exceeded any expectation I had for it . . . an intense journey of a girl whose one decision changed her life but not for the worst." - Shortie Says

"I take my hat off to her because this was definitely a difficult story to write but she really makes it work and I'd highly recommend this book to anyone." - Book Passion for Life

"Fueled by a portrayal of lust and hurt, it makes you think twice about your actions. Who I Kissed is a serious yet great story that everyone can get into." - Books with Bite

"Readers . . . will be immersed in her unique and disconcerting situation and will be absorbed in her struggle for personal redemption, self-acceptance, and hope." - School Library Journal

"Without excess heavy-handedness, Gurtler weaves a tale of collective responsibility as several teens reflect on their actions that one fateful night. A well-crafted story about a student's fight to feel normal again when a community of peers turns on her." - Booklist

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Who I Kissed 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
Death by a kiss? I can’t even imagine the scenario that plays out in Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler. Moving to a new town and starting at a new high school is stressful enough. No friends, having to start over, having the spot light constantly on you. So not fun for main character, Samantha. So where does one go to meet new people, make new friends? Why, at a party of course! Unfortunately, this party is not one that ends in a happy ending. After watching her crush, Zee, make out with someone else, Sam does something that I’m sure she thought was harmless. Kiss a boy to make the other jealous. Unfortunately, that boy is Alex…sweet, funny Alex. Unfortunately, Alex has a really bad allergy to peanuts. And more unfortunate, Sam ate a peanut butter sandwich before heading to the party. Alex goes into Anaphylactic shock and dies. Now, not only is she the new girl, she’s the new girl who killed a boy with a kiss. So now, not only did she just escape the social pariah that she was at her old school, where rumours were flying around that she was a lesbian, she has now become a social outcast at her new school. Seriously depressed, Sam’s father has her starting to see a psychiatrist to help her deal with the issues she’s going through. Her father is worries about her wellbeing and upset that she has given up the one thing that she has constantly found solace in…swimming, and is trying to help her in his own way, but sometimes, a mother’s touch is irreplaceable. Unfortunately, Sam’s mother passed away when she was very young, and the only womanly advice Sam gets is from her eccentric Aunt Allie. Sam must now face the entire school knowing that she is to blame for Alex’s death. And not only does the school blame her, but Sam blames herself. And in order to heal, she needs to confront the very people that have hurt the most from all of this. But will she have the strength to endure the pain and ridicule she receives at school? I thoroughly enjoyed Who I Kissed. And props for a Canadian author! Woot woot! Who I Kissed took me on an emotional rollercoaster ride. I was sad for Sam and the others who were affected by the death of Alex. I was scared for Sam when she went back to school and had to face her classmates after this horrible incident. I was happy for Sam during certain events, and I was angry for different decisions that she made. With so many emotions flying out at me while reading this book, you know that the book is pretty fantastic when one gets so emotionally involved. Author, Janet Gurtler, has opened up my eyes to the seriousness of peanut allergies. It solidified to me the seriousness of this allergy. And to have Gurtler portray this allergy in the way that she did in Who I Kissed, I’m sure it will open up the eyes of many more readers. The characters in Who I Kissed all had their own personalities, some of which you can’t help love, and others you can’t help but despise. The situations that happen in the book were very thought provoking and I know that anyone who reads Who I Kissed will walk away with something that they will not forget.
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
A very interesting plot, this book open up my eyes to a very new subject. What would you do if you kissed a guy who had allergies and killed him? Oh gosh, I'd be going insane. That is some had facts to face at such a young age. And knowing that everyone blames you is even worse. The plot consist of lots of great twists and turns. I enjoyed Samantha going through the depression, the bulling, and just the overall blame she took on. The plot is filled with a lot of finding out what really happen that night of the party along with who Samantha is. She had some skeletons in her closet that she carried with her. And this incident just brought it out more. The love interest I enjoyed because it began as a friendship. It started off as unsure and unstable, just two people beating around the bush. Samantha later learns the truth of the matter. She learns to adjust and just let things flow. She finds her feeling for the guy and finally understands. I like that it didn't take Samantha much too long or not short to learn. She took things in at her own pace, gradually bringing the reader in for a great and powerful story. Who I Kissed is a great story that illustrates the views of allergies. Fueled by a portrayal of lust and hurt, it makes you think twice about your actions. Who I Kissed is a serious yet great story that everyone can get into.
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
It all started with a kiss. When Sam kisses Alex to get back at Zee for making out with another girl after flirting with her, she never expected him to get an asthma attack--or die on the way to the hospital. But he does, and she has to live with the survivor's guilt. Sam has a hard time coping. She wishes that she was the one who died and thinks that she doesn't deserve happiness. To punish herself, she quits the swim team and begins withdrawing within herself. Sam makes a lot of stupid choices. From kissing Alex though she loves Zee to quitting the swim team that she loves to believing that she's worthless, Sam falls into a viscious cycle of self harm without resorting to actual, deliberate physical harm. Though she's trying to make things right, she fails to respect herself or see that she's failing to do good in the world. Things culminate when she makes a really stupid mistake and finally realizes that nothing she's doing can fill the emptiness within her. Sam is an easily relatable character and one that I wanted to support. I understand her motives and hope that her experiences will continue to strengthen her and make her a better person in the future. Not just Sam, but the other characters are all very real characters. There's Zee and his grief over his best friend's death. Alex's family and their loss. Sam's eccentric and loving aunt. Her supportive father who has dealt with his own loss and wants only the best for his daughter. All of these characters' personalities have their own charm and motives, and I like to think that I understand where they're coming from. They are so well developed and play their own important roles in the story. Even Alex, though his character serves mainly as a catalyst for the true heart of the plot--Sam's guilt and the way she copes with it. Janet Gurtler has a talent for writing realistic stories about heart-moving characters and serious issues without getting preachy. I love her writing style and the way she can really bring out the emotions in a story and evoke them in the reader. Grief plays a large role in the story. While this story centers on Sam and the torrent of emotions that she feels over her perceived role in Alex's death, however, allergies and a mental disorder are brought up, as is sex and drugs. There is mature content in the form of a small sex scene and some language. This is a story that I can see myself reading again. It's a keeper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an awesome book that I highly recommend for teens! But I think the wording wasn't too good... So what I'm saying is that the storyline was AWESOME!!! But the way she wrote was little ammature. But besides that.. THE BOOK IS DA BOMB!!! :D
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
Right from the beginning, Who I Kissed is unexpected and amazing!  This book was deeply emotional and moving from just about the first page.  Same is the new girl, an swimmer, and your average teen age girl struggling to fit in.  Zee is the cute guy on the swim team and the guy she is crushing on.  When she goes to  a party, just to see Zee, she unexpectedly ends up making out with another guy, with disastrous results. That moment sets the stage for the entire book and it was a moment that was tragically and emotionally sad.  There are so many layers to this book that I have a hard time writing this review because I want to  give none of it away.  There is not only the struggles of being new, of being a teen girl, but the struggle within herself to cope with what has happened. This is an amazing story of love, friendship, forgiveness, and choices.  The cast of characters, from the main to the supporting, is rich and varied and endlessly fascinating.  There were times that I laughed and times that I cried, but it was a beautiful story.  There is so much depth, and while this could fall under the category of "contemporary romance," I listed it as "contemporary fiction" as well because there is so much more to the central plot than romance.  If anything, the romantic elements just add layers to the true focus of the story... Sam's journey. Things to love about Who I Kissed...    --Everything.  I loved the characters.  I loved the plot.  I loved the theme.  I loved the depth. My recommendation:  An absolutely moving story that needs to be read to be fully appreciated!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW. This BLEW. ME. AWAY. I loved it so much. Want more books from Janet Gurtler
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was sad and interesting but it all came together quite nicely. I enjoyed it. Had some twists and even moments I wanted to jump in and smack the main character but in the end she came through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and i couldnt put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has to be my favorite book from Janet Gurtler. I just did nitblike how it jumped straight to him dying. But all in all amazing!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! Love ut so much!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Getting a new NOOK today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book i couldnt put down. It was unbelieveable. I loved it. It was crazy how everyone thought a kiss could kill. Thats crazy if it did happen that way. I am happy sam and zee ended up together. Not casper. I liked him at 1st but then he changed around people.
The_Busy_Bibliophile More than 1 year ago
Samantha moved to a new school to work with a better swim coach. She’s still the new girl and still getting to know everyone. Her teammate, Zee, on whom she has been crushing for some time, invites her to a party but ends up making out with another girl right in front of her. Samantha decides to make him jealous by making out with his best friend Alex, who seems more interested in her than Zee. Suddenly, he can’t breathe and they’re calling an ambulance. He dies on the way to the hospital and now Samantha is the girl who killed Alex. Samantha was an interesting character to get to know. She seemed strong and confident, but struck me as a bit immature. After Alex’s death, she punished herself much more than anyone else could. She became introverted and lost all confidence and refused to be persuaded that his death wasn’t her fault. That aspect seemed a little out of character for her, when compared to the beginning of the story. I liked Zee, Samantha’s crush, until he started making out with another girl. That was an asshat thing for him to do, and she seemed to forget about that part of the night rather quickly. Casper, who became interested in Samantha after that night, was a bit of a mystery to me (for a while). He was nice to her even after almost everyone else stopped speaking to her, but he could also be distant for no apparent reason. I loved Taylor, the one friend who stood by Samantha. She was nice and kind and there for Samantha no matter what. Samantha’s dad and aunt were wonderful parents for her. It was nice to have a dad who’s not only in the picture, but actually a very good dad! Aunt Allie was just quirky enough. The plot was interesting, and I liked the direction Janet Gurtler took with it. It’s hard to imagine something as simple as a kiss causing someone’s death, but she made it believable. There were facts and statistics, and they help you see how often something like this may actually happen. One part I really liked was that Samantha started to see a psychologist, which was a smart thing for her to do. We see some of the things he did to help Samantha through her guilt. One thing that bugged me about the story was that nobody ever called out Alex. Since he had such a severe allergy, I would think he might mention that to a girl before he started swapping spit. Maybe they never thought that was a concern, but surely his mother would wrestle with some guilt over not thinking about it? There are scenes of underage drinking and drug use. There’s also a v-card losing situation, which was not at all graphic. The sum up: A cautionary tale filled with sadness and hope.
ValerieStuckInBooks More than 1 year ago
4 stars- Messy and real, this story will stay with you I needed this book. Some books I read are crazy with misunderstandings that get figured out and everything just ends up working out perfectly. Not that I don't love and want the HEA but life just isn't like that. Even when things work out in life, there are always these pieces parts that are a mess. I was ready for a book that was more like real life. Ready to read something where the teens acted like the ones I hang with as a teacher. Where the pain is real and the HEA isn't perfect but real. That's what this book brings. I didn't cry through this book, I flew through it. Sam is devastated by Alex's death, filled with pain and guilt. She doesn't pick herself up after a couple of days and say, yeah I'm okay and fall head over heels for some boy trying to help her. No, her reaction seems real and while it's hard to watch I couldn't tear myself away. I had to know what happened. And there's more going on than any one character even knows. Sam lost her mother at a young age. Both her and her father have yet to deal with it. This brings that all to the surface again. Her dad has a little secret of his own that he's not sure how to tell her. Zee, Casper, Chole, they're all are not dealing with things but are just surviving. I think a lot of times that's what people do when there are problems in their lives. They ignore and cope the best they can until something happens to force it to the surface. That what this book brings. The pace of this story was perfect. You can't survive this kind of thing in a few days or weeks and this story had a solid timeline. All through that pain, I wasn't waiting for the end but watching the story flow so well. Real. Messy. Genuine. That's what this book brings. If you like the YA scene, then this one needs to be on your list and moved up to the top.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So much more than I thought! This book is sad but heartwarming at the same time. If you like books that are straight up and make you think, this is for you. I LOVED It!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read what the book was about & i already don't want to read it. It reminds me of kiss me kill me by laurie henderson? I think thats the author. & that book was AMAZING!! even the sequal kisses and lieswas amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is ok kind of scary but ii did not readit so i dont know wat the metaphor means but hope to figure it out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Peanut allergies are not something to be taken lightly!