Dear (never-been-quite-over-you) Crush,
It’s been a few years since we were together, but I can’t stop thinking about the time we almost…
Wren Roland has never been kissed, but he wants that movie-perfect ending more than anything. Feeling nostalgic on the eve of his birthday, he sends emails to all the boys he (ahem) loved before he came out. Morning brings the inevitable Oh God What Did I Do?, but he brushes that panic aside. Why stress about it? None of his could-have-beens are actually going to read the emails, much less respond. Right?
Enter Derick Haverford, Wren’s #1 pre-coming-out-crush and his drive-in theater’s new social media intern. Everyone claims he’s coasting on cinematic good looks and his father’s connections, but Wren has always known there’s much more to Derick than meets the eye. Too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about the infamous almost-kiss that once rocked Wren’s world.
Whatever. Wren’s no longer a closeted teenager; he can survive this. But as their hazy summer becomes consumed with a special project that may just save the struggling drive-in for good, Wren and Derick are drawn ever-closer…and maybe, finally, Wren’s dream of a perfect-kiss-before-the-credits is within reach.
***Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
solid, good read:
Call me old-fashioned, but I fight the urge to share as much as possible because my self-conscious nature can't handle having to steal my supply of serotonin from likes and comments.
There is so much to love about Never Been Kissed, but one of my favourite aspects is the fluidity of romantic and sexual identities. Wren shows that it’s okay to identify differently or change your ‘label’ as you grow and learn more about yourself – especially once you start dating and putting prior conceptions to the test in the real world. Though he feels trapped because he came out as gay, Wren no longer believes the term truly encompasses him as a person. I love the open discussion, initiated by Brandon after a disastrous experience, that helps him come to terms with himself and his romantic history. It helps to show how learning more about yourself can improve your relationships with those around you.
Never Been Kissed models how beautiful open and honest communication in relationships can be. This is demonstrated in both friendships and romantic relationships, and the close bonds between a lot of these characters prove how important this kind of communication can be. Wren’s demisexuality helped emphasise how a relationship can feel good but shallow when someone is holding back or hiding something – even if it’s out of fear or insecurity, and not necessarily dishonesty. When all the cards are on the table, it’s easy to see real growth and connection, allowing for a wonderful and fulfilling relationship.
As expected with new adult fiction, Never Been Kissed covers a period in these characters’ lives when they are trying to find themselves and the people they will be. I loved that several threads were running throughout the narrative, lending complexity to what could have been a simple but sweet love story. A lot is going on here, but we never lose the central thread that makes this an incredibly easy and enjoyable read.