Kissing Max Holden is Katy Upperman’s debut novel and the latest book published by Swoon Reads. Living up to its publisher’s name, Kissing Max Holden will leave you swooning in delight.
Jill and Max were childhood friends until the day they weren’t. That’s why Max climbing through her window one night surprises Jill—it’s something that hasn’t happened in a long time. Jill knows she shouldn’t let Max kiss her for a couple of reasons: 1) because he’s drunk, and 2) he has a girlfriend. After being caught in the act, Jill promises her dad it won’t happened again. But with her life falling a part, Jill soon finds Max to be the perfect distraction and a person she can confide in.
Oh man, I loved Kissing Max Holden. I could not put this book down and was able to easily read it in one sitting. It’s such an enjoyable read, and I fell in love with the story instantly. The writing style was addicting, and I could not get enough of Jill and Max’s story. They aren’t perfect, but I loved that about them. They’re both in difficult situations with their families, yet they find a way to get through it together. One highlight from this book was the relationship Jill has with her stepmom, Meredith. It was refreshing that Meredith not be portrayed as the stereotypical “evil” stepmother and to actually see their relationship grow throughout the book . The family dynamics of both families in general added to the story’s depth. Another highlight? Jill’s talent for baking. I adored that her dream was to attend culinary, specifically pastry, school. More importantly, we see her love for baking in action throughout the story with all the different types of pastries she bakes. It sure made me want to throw on my apron and bake some delicious desserts.
Now to address a certain part of the book, beware semi-spoilers are ahead. Ready? Okay. Yes, Max cheats on his girlfriend several times by kissing and confiding in Jill the way he does. Is the girlfriend manipulative? Yes. Does she deserve it? No. What Max should have done is break up with her. However, he makes a mistake as does Jill by continuing to let this happen. Towards the end of the book, we see a parallel between Jill and her dad who is also having an affair. That’s where the similarities end. What Jill’s dad does is completely inappropriate and wrong. He cheats on his pregnant wife. Not only that, but he cheated on his first wife, Jill’s mother, which is why she left. After Jill confronts him, he continues to have his affair. He obviously does not learn from his mistakes. Jill and Max, on the other hand, are teenagers. They are not grown adults in a serious, life-long committed relationship. Teenagers make mistakes, it’s how they learn to grow up. Could the situation have been handled better? Of course. Do I fault them for it? No, because they both undergo major character development within the story, which is the most important part.
Overall, I adored Kissing Max Holden. It included the tropes I love reading in YA romances and was such a swoon-worthy novel. I look forward to reading Katy Upperman’s next book!
*This ARC was provided to me by the publisher through Xpresso Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.*