Genre: Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Stunning
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What. Okay, instructions on how to read and enjoy this book: read the first half and then ditch it. Say sayonara because while the first half of Say What You Will is clever and brilliant and absolutely charming, the second half will make you want to cry with how poorly the plot progressed.
First, before I get into my critique of the book, I would just like to applaud Cammie McGovern for writing a book about teenagers with disabilities that is both accessible and forthright. Besides that, it is a book that is written with honesty and has an interesting concept (although the book has a central focus on disability, it was a unique enough concept that rather than becoming a heavy plot point, it forced the characters to progress). I thought it was a marvelous idea and McGovern is a great author, with a very unique voice.
That being said...wow, the disappointment factor with this book is absolutely insane. The book opens with a set of email exchanges between Amy and Matthew, which leave enough to be desired that I wanted to continue. Amy has cerebral palsy, and Matthew is an extremely honest and a little awkward kid who calls Amy's bullshit about being super grateful for her disabled body. Then, Amy convinces her mom to get rid of her school aid and instead hire five teenagers to be her aids for each day. Matthew, as you might imagine, is one of these teenagers. Basically, this book progresses into a book about the relationship between Amy and Matthew, from aid to friend to romantic interest.
I won't give away any more of the plot, but I will say this. For half the book, I was absolutely in love with the characters and the story and the voice that McGovern provided for me (despite the third person, I feel as though this book would've been much better in the point of view of Amy or even Matthew or even alternating PoVs (I think McGovern is a good enough writer to pull that kind of thing off). I feel as though the characters developed beautifully, and for the most part, so did Matthew, even towards the end. However, after the half way mark in this book, everything goes down hill (other than the writing, which is good all the way through). The plot, the character development, the overall tone of the piece: all of these things are lost at a certain point, and I so wish that wasn't the case. McGovern had the writing chops to make this one a home run, and really kill it with a fantastic ending, and she didn't. That disappoints me a little, although I feel like another book from McGovern might yield a better product (given that the keeps the flow throughout her novel).
Another thing I want to discuss is McGovern's ability to faithfully write teenager's dialogue. Honestly, that's what got this book up to the star rating that it got. Although the teenagers in question are not considered "socially normal" within the context on the novel, the writing translates the humor of a sassy teenager and a bossy friend and a concerned date. Strong writing chops like this are hard to find, and I hope McGovern comes out with something soon which has a stronger ending. Cannot wait to read the next thing she writes, with high hopes that it will be awesome all the way through next time.
Who are your favorite authors for teen dialogue?
Let us know in the comments!
Let us know in the comments!