Published by Delacorte Press on July 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Themes of death and bullying)
Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.
KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.
DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.
When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
This book was everything I could want as far as the way it portrays a kid who isn’t neurotypical—I loved being inside David’s head and seeing the world from his point of view. We need books like these that shed light on people who think and act differently than the mainstream. This book tackles the topic with sensitivity and candor.
What Fed My Addiction:
- David’s POV. Like I said, I was intrigued by the perspective of a kid with high-functioning autism. David just thinks differently than the rest of the world—he sees life through a different lens. And he knows this, but that doesn’t mean that he can change it. David approaches everything through logic, and he doesn’t recognize social cues most of the time, and he can’t always recognize other people’s emotions. As the mom of a kid who displays these traits (to a lesser degree than David), I can say that it’s refreshing to see a character like this as the MC. David isn’t a freak, and he isn’t intentionally uncaring—he just doesn’t get things the way the rest of us do. That doesn’t excuse all of his behaviors (he makes a major mistake late in the book that would be hard to fathom if you weren’t in his head), but it does make us understand them a little better, which leaves us (and the other characters in the book) room to forgive him. One other thing that I love about this book is that it shows David’s positive traits as well as his atypical ones (or, in some cases, shows how his atypical traits are positive), and those traits are truly emphasized.
- Kit’s story. Kit was another fantastic character, both because of her diverse background (her mother is Indian and her father is white, and the cultures of the two sides of her family sometimes collide) and because of her struggles with dealing with her father’s death. I felt for Kit as she tried to navigate this new world without her father and make her friends understand why she couldn’t go back to “life as usual.” As the story progresses, though, you learn more and more details about Kit’s story (some of them shocking!).
- The romance. The chance for a romance between someone like David and someone like Kit seems remote at first (especially to Kit and David!), but Buxbaum weaves their stories together beautifully and connects them in ways that are undeniably sweet and emotional. I found myself falling for these two together and every scene between them just made me crave more.
- Family dynamics. This book portrays strong family connections, some of which are tested in painful ways. The family dynamics in both Kit’s and David’s families take center stage in this book, which I loved!!
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Violence solving problems. There is one scene in this book where David ends up resorting to violence against his bullies, and while it was sort of self-defense (it’s a bit of a gray area, in my opinion), this rubbed me the wrong way for two reasons: First off, it just bugs me in YA when an awkward kid gains popularity through violence because that’s not sending a great message, in my opinion. And, secondly, while there might be exceptions, most kids in David’s situation aren’t going to be kung fu masters, and I worry a bit that someone who’s like David and reading this might get the message that beating the bullies at their own game is the only way they can really gain acceptance. Luckily, this one just one small instance in the book, and Kit shows David acceptance for who he is well before this incident, so it didn’t bother me immensely.
Basically, I loved this book. With diverse characters that teens today can connect with, a storyline that’s somehow both adorable and fraught with pain and lots of surprises, What to Say Next does everything right! I give the book 5/5 Stars, and this one is getting added to my All-Time Favorites list!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish.