November 9, 2012

Kiss N’ Tell Blog Tour – Guest post Who I Kissed author, Janet Gurtler

Hey all!  Thanks for stopping by the blog for our tour stop for the

Kiss N’ Tell Blog Tour for Janet Gurtler’s book, Who I Kissed

presented by Sourcebooks!

 Today, we are so thrilled to have Janet stop by the blog  and talk about
the effect media can have on teens in tough situations, along with our
thoughts on this fabulous book.

She Never Thought A Kiss Could Kill. . .

Samantha is new at school and just recently joined the swim team. She’s been flirting with one of her teammates, Zee, who invites her to a party and just as quickly dumps her for another girl. Hurt, but pretending not to care, she turns to his best friend, Alex, and gives him a kiss. And he dies—right in her arms. Alex was allergic to peanuts, and Samantha had eaten a peanut butter sandwich right before the party. She didn’t know. Overnight, Samantha turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she will have to find the inner-strength to forgive herself for the tragedy.

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
Publication Date:  October 1, 2012
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
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** This title was provided to us by the publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

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.

Media Crazy


In the book, Samantha is troubled with guilt and watching the news is not helping.  Janet Gurtler explores the effect media can have on teens in tough situations.

In the book, Who I Kissed, when a boy dies from kissing a girl who ate peanut butter, it’s a sensational death and all forms of media cover the tragedy. A peanut butter kiss and Alex is gone. It sounds almost comical, except it’s not.  It’s a story that the papers and the online community want to talk about.  Samantha is the girl who kissed a boy and made him die.  Not only does she have to deal with her own guilt and horror, she has to deal with the worlds. All she has to do is turn on the television to see highlights and updates about what happened.

Sam is compelled to watch and almost treats the news as her just punishment, watching and seeing snippets about the boy and his life and knowing she’s the cause of the person he’ll never become.  When I wrote the book, I consulted some journalism friends to see if in a case like this whether or not the traditional forms of news coverage would name the girl who caused the death. The unanimous opinion was that, no, they wouldn’t because the death was accidental and a tragedy.

The flip side of this world we live in today though is social media. There aren’t any hard and fast rules in place. In Sam’s world her name and the story is very much public knowledge. The teens even use social media to bully Sam. She’s taunted on Facebook and because of her overwhelming guilt, she doesn’t even try to report it or fight back.  Online bullying is a problem that is becoming larger and is often difficult to manage.  Sam is hurt but unable to answer to or unwilling to report or respond to it except internally.

Our society is so inundated with information coming from so many different forms of media. It seems like we expect to know the details when there’s a tragedy like a teen’s accidental death. As a public we want or the juicy behind the scenes. We’re a society growing up with reality television where we know intimate details about stranger’s lives.  Teens post pictures of themselves on-line or their parents post their pictures online for the whole world to see.

I’m sure television reporters and shows feel tremendous pressure to get something different to show a different angle of a story.  The media seems much more intrusive and the public seems to support and expect it.  In many ways, it’s an unhealthy sense of entitlement and a willingness to peer inside people’s windows and see things we’re not always entitled inside to see.

We want to know everything but what is the price for the people who have to deal not only with the tragedy but also with the consequences of being so exposed in the media?

Where are ethics, and social responsibilities going when our traditional media outlets are competing against media not governed or concerned with the same moralities?

Many teens today grow up with their lives completely connected to technology which usually includes being online.  Media really does take on a much broader scope and sometimes it’s hard not to have the lines blurred between social media and news.

About the Author:


Janet lives near the Canadian Rockies with her husband and son and a little dog named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot.

Janet only gives 5 stars to the books she reviews because she is an author herself and knows that no book can appeal to everyone, but like a child, it is very special to the creator.

I’M NOT HER was published by Sourcebooks Teen Fire in May 2011.

IF I TELL released Oct 1, 2011 from Sourcebooks Teen Fire.

WHO I KISSED Sourcebooks Fire 2012.

Janet’s work will also appear in the THE FIRST TIME anthology, DEAR TEEN ME anthology and WHO DONE IT anthology.

Connect with the Author:  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Available for Purchase:
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