Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman | Book ReviewKissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
Also by this author: How the Light Gets In
Published by Macmillan on August 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Social Themes, Dating & Sex, Family, Parents
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Equal parts swoonworthy romance and deeply affecting family drama, this debut novel about the boy next door turned super hot bad boy will have readers hooked from the very first kiss.

After his father’s stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows 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 suddenly 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?

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Katy Upperman’s debut novel Kissing Max Holden skillfully navigates the tenuous territory of bad influences, good friends, and complicated families.

Praise for Kissing Max Holden:

"Kissing Max Holden is like the perfect slice of pumpkin pie: it's equal parts sweet and spicy, and you can't get enough of it! What a treat!" —Jessica Love, author of In Real Life

“A moving book with depth, Kissing Max Holden is perfect for readers wanting a strong female character in a realistic romance. Wonderfully written and swoony.” —Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan

“Sarah Dessen fans rejoice—you are going to love Kissing Max Holden!” —Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn

“Full of wit, humor, and spine-tingling smooches, Kissing Max Holden combines the classic themes of contemporary romance with riveting family drama. . . . I literally could not put this book down and would buy a physical copy for my shelf in a heartbeat. I can't wait to read what Katy writes next.” —Erin Bowman, author of Vengeance Road

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman had me WAY TOO emotionally invested. Of all the books I have read from the Swoon Reads imprint thus far, I think that this one may hold the title for my favorite. Although I enjoyed My New Crush Gave To Me a lot, this book had me up in my feelings. I actually find myself really pumped up about whatever Upperman comes out with next due to how excellent Kissing Max Holden was.

Katy Upperman’s debut follows Jillian Eldridge who lives next door to Max Holden. Their families are super close. Max, however, has this girlfriend named Becky (who I assume does not have good hair). One night, Halloween to be precise, Jillian hears a tapping on her window. It is Max. He comes into her room, the two share a kiss. Jillian’s dad catches them and forbids them to be alone together. Meanwhile, Jillian’s stepmother is pregnant. So, Kissing Max Holden follows a few different plot threads – Jillian’s push pull relationship with Max, Jillian’s future hopes of being a pastry chef, and what happens when Jillian becomes a big sister.

Jillian is actually an interesting character and she actually does experience some level of personal growth during this book. Her biggest character trait that stuck out to me is that she’s a foodie. She’s willing to try all kinds of food. Plus she loves cooking and especially baking. It is quite a treat to read about the different treats she is making.

Beyond this character trait, she comes off as a little bit timid although she has several good friends. However, she rarely seems to let her voice be heard especially in regards to her feelings for Max. She always seems to be sort of tiptoeing around stuff. Also, Jillian is not all that into the idea of the new baby — her inner dialogue refers to the baby as a leech. However, she matures and changes and grows. She’s a teenager and this book affirms that. I thought the writing of her character was well done.

The romance is a bit of a slow build. Okay, so the beginning of Kissing Max Holden literally features a kissing scene between Max and Jillian. However, this doesn’t immediately develop into a relationship or romance. First of all, Max is still with his girlfriend Becky. Second of all, Jillian’s dad, much like King Trident, forbids it. These obstacles do make the story more interest. Granted, I will never condone cheating in a million years. It does play a large role in this book. I don’t know, I just think that Upperman handles the difficult situation delicately and I respect how she wrote it.

In all, Katy Upperman’s Kissing Max Holden is a quick read. It’s got some pretty intense and tough situations. I mean, there are some painful scenes in this book. Like, there’s kind of a big reveal that shocked me — it didn’t involve Jillian or Max, but adults. Upperman did a great job with the plotting is what I will say. This book is definitely a good sort of read if you want something that will suck you right in with drama that is not quite over the top.

Other reviews of Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman:

Click here to support Good Books & Good Wine with your purchase or preview of Kissing Max Holden:

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I also really enjoyed this! I read this earlier this year and can still remember all the feels! I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

  2. Thank you for sharing my review!


  1. […] the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman Also by this author: Kissing Max Holden Also in this series: Fathomless Published by Feiwel & Friends on August 6, 2019 Genres: Young […]