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?
Say hello to the creme de la creme of contemporary YA. Kissing Max Holden was my top most-anticipated YA debut of 2017. The idea of the book was almost as good as finally getting a copy in my hands.
I’m so glad the book lived up to its expectations.
Jillian, known to Max as Jilly, let Max Holden in her window on Halloween night, the cataclysm for the next few months of her junior year. Living at home with her stepmother, flighty father, and the leech baby growing in her stepmother’s stomach, kissing her quasi-friend and very much taken boy across the street was the least of her worries. She baked and dreamed of going away to culinary school in New York. She had her entire life planned out, and one little kiss shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. However, Max had a lot more going on than the reason why he climbed in her window.
I went into this book expecting it to be a light contemporary; the title gives that impression. What I didn’t expect was the hard, thought-provoking themes that Upperman interspersed throughout the story. She dealt with the ebb and flow of high expectations, either interpersonally or personally. Change had a resounding presence and was what inspired the novel. What better way for your world to change than the boy you’ve been half in love with for years climbing into your window? Even still, Jilly’s change came from everyone around her, not just Max, while Max also had to deal with his own demons. Is this book light? There are times where one could say so. Does it deal with real-life issues and not sugarcoat the hard-hitting truth? Yes, as well.
Max was the bad boy. There were times when I thought I hated him. I didn’t want it to be true, but Katy Upperman seriously had me worried that not a bone in my body would love Max Holden before the book ended. Loved him I did—in the end. One of the issues that Jilly faces when Max kisses her is that he isn’t single when it happens. So, yes, my first impression of Max was below par—but, truly, everyone else’s was, too. Her dad (now) hated him, even though he had known him for years; his mother worried about him; their friends gossiped about the unhealthy relationship he nursed with his girlfriend Becky (who was the worst); Jilly couldn’t figure out how to be there for him without crossing the line they teetered on already. I got to know Max, watch him grow and change into a better guy, and that was why I loved him—not because he was wonderful from the start. No, Max had to work for it. There isn’t a lot of that in YA contemporary, and it’s a dying and necessary art.
Basically, you need Kissing Max Holden in your life. Baking, friend-zone breaking, and deep elements needed in YA, it’ll melt your heart like freshly spun cotton candy. I enjoyed the airy moments interspersed with real-life issues and instances. I loved Max and Jilly, and I’m dreaming of their future already. I can’t help but anticipate Katy Upperman’s next book.