As a huge fan of Tell Me Three Things (I even wore a homemade book cover in a 4th of July Parade to promote the library’s Teen Services department), I was so excited to get to an Advance Reader’s Copy of What to Say Next back in November. I saved the ARC to be my first read of 2017. And now it’s finally July and release day for this book that I loved!
Just like in Tell Me Three Things, Buxbaum perfectly captures a realistic teenagers’ voices and feelings. Kit, a 16 year old half-Indian girl, who used to only worry about getting the Editor in Chief position at the school newspaper, is dealing with the sudden death of her father in a car accident while David is just trying to get through bullying and being misunderstood by his peers. David has Asperger’s and his classmates don’t take the time to get to know him. Kit finds herself in need of a change to distract her from the pain of her father’s passing. Kit sits with David in the lunch room and the two begin to understand each other in a way that no one else has before.
I loved that this story didn’t solely focus on a budding romance between the two characters. Kit has two best friends that love her and stick up for her. She also has a strong relationship with her mom. David has a supportive family and a really cool big sister who looks out for him. Though romantic feelings develop later on, this is the story about another magical thing that happens in high school–insta-friendship when you need it the most.
Throughout the book, I kept thinking about something that the author wrote in a letter to the reader at the beginning. Julie wrote “labels can be liberating, but they can also be limiting.” Throughout this book, Kit and David struggle with the labels that they’ve put on themselves and ones others have given to them. Kit tries to forget that she’s the girl who’s father has died, while David wants to push away the limitations that people assume his Asperger’s diagnosis have placed on him. They begin to use their own labels for themselves and feel the liberation that comes with loving yourself. As with all of my favorite teen books, What To Say Next gives Kit and David the space to push their boundaries and find their own identities.
I know I’ll reread this book in the future and I can’t wait to share it with the teens at my library.
Add it to your Goodreads shelf and treat yo’ self to the book today!