Samantha feels so guilty after her kiss actually kills a boy that she ends her champion swimming career.
Sam doesn’t normally go to parties or kiss boys. She’s really attracted to Zee, another swimmer, but he ignores her, so she kisses Alex instead. Alex immediately gasps for breath and dies on the way to the hospital. It turns out that he had a peanut allergy, and Sam had eaten a peanut-butter sandwich just before the party. She didn’t know about Alex’s allergy but blames herself anyway, as do many of her schoolmates. Sam believes she doesn’t deserve to continue with the swim team, even though she’s close to setting national records. Some stand up for her, such as wealthy, handsome Casper, who wants to be more than friends. Even as Sam makes some unfortunate choices, she gets help from several friends, a grief counselor and her Aunt Allie, a professional psychic. Relationships tangle and untangle while Sam slowly works her way toward forgiving herself, long after Alex’s family has forgiven her. Gurtler demonstrates sensitivity toward her characters and insight into their emotional responses to their friend’s death. Although her high-school villains seem a bit one-dimensional, the rest of the characters breathe with life. Skeptics will curl their lips at the psychic element, but there is enough realism to keep them involved.
A touching story. (Fiction. 12 & up)