BOOK REVIEW: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

BOOK REVIEW: Tell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
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Synopsis:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.

 

I’m going to be frank with you all: I never had any intentions of reading this novel. Nope. None. And then…and then I got on this kick where I’m obsessed with online romance types (or even love letter/pen pal types *see Punk 57/Letters to the Lost*) where two people are completely anonymous and know each other in real life-but they don’t realize it. And it’s so funny because I didn’t even realize I was gravitating to this type of book until I had read a handful.

 
Me: So…
Scarlett: If you must know…
Me: I MUST, I MUST.
Scarlett: My hymen is intact.
Me: Surely you could have told me in a less graphic fashion.

 

So there I was, posting a review on GR and my blog for one of these types of books, then one of our followers on the blog commented on my review and said they had read this and liked it (THANK YOU, BEAUTIFUL PERSON, THANK YOU). So, naturally, I immediately switched over to GR, marked TM3T ‘to read’ and bought it immediately. And I must tell you: It was love at first page.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s my new, beautifully hectic life or maybe my mind needed a break-who knows? But finding and attaching to this trope came at the best time. And I can’t necessarily pick a favorite out of the pile of cyber/letter books I’ve read in 2017, but each one always gives me the absolute best feelings. Where Punk was hot, dirty, hate-to-love romance, TM3T was sweet, exploratory, one-sided, slow-build romance. It was fun, flirty and made me smile so many times I can’t even count. I won’t lie-even though I’m living the dream, at the moment, I still have dark or heavy times. I don’t have all good days….so this book was just-It was such a fun, beautiful, shining light of a story and I gobbled up every page of it.

 

He just nods again, like I’ve said yes. Like he asked and I answered a question. Right. Maybe not so nice after all. “But—” But what? I was looking forward to being your partner? I like your serial killer eyes?

 

I think the most amazing parts of these online romances are the secrecy. There is just something so fun about one person knowing who you are and the other being totally oblivious, but still falling in love that makes me all screechy and fangirlish. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I SAID don’t ask why! I just love ‘em. I do. Shh.

 

Ethan: From Merriam-Webster: Tuber: “a short, thick, round stem that is a part of certain plants (such as the potato), that grows underground, and that can produce a new plant.”
Me: Huh. Kinda makes sense. The whole feeding a new life part of the poem.
Ethan: But why are they dried?
Me: No idea.
Ethan: I like the word “tuber.” Makes a good insult.
Me: ??? Example, please.
Ethan: Gem and Crystal? Total tubers.

 

Now, it seems so odd that all these books always have one person who knows what’s going on and they lead the person they are crushing about on. I get that-but I think that’s my favorite thing. Is that weird? Whatever. Eliza knew about Wallace. Declan knew about Juliet. Misha knew about Ryen. Bailey and Porter knew about…well. They were oblivious way too long-ask my Frenchy Bug about that (SHUT UP. IF YOU DISS ON THE ONLY BOOKS I HAVE LOVED THIS YEAR I WILL END YOU [squish you like a], BUG). And, in a lot of these, there is anger. Betrayal. Hurt. Why didn’t the [secret] significant other admit they knew who the other was? Why keep up with the charade? And this proves to be an interesting plot point for me.

All the authors handle the anger/betrayal/hurt differently, and I just always seem to love how it’s handled. It adds a layer of diversity to each book that makes me all giddy and weird-but, in the end, always incredibly happy. Because A) Wouldn’t you be pissed if someone you were falling for kept their identity a secret from you? And B) A lot of times, it’s the guy who knows first and he doesn’t like the girl in real life he thought he knew so well online. I LOVE THIS. Animosity from a broody man boy anyone? No takers? I’m the only weirdo? Cool. More Misha [etc.] for moi.

But, that’s where TM3T differs-it’s clear from the beginning. The guy states he doesn’t want to be known and that he knows who she is and he just wants to help. They build a friendship, they grow closer, and they begin to fall in love….all the while she’s guessing/wishing/hoping about who it could be. See? All these books are so different…but the same. They all make me feel good and I truly think, for me, that’s what makes me feel so alive.

 

Me: Do you think college will actually be better? For real?
SN: hope so. but then again, I just read about a guy who lost a ball in a frat hazing incident.
Me: Seriously? What is wrong with people?

 

But deeper than that, I love that these characters feel ‘less than’ because, in the end, they learn they don’t have to hide who they are-they don’t have to hide or change themselves to impress anyone else. And isn’t that why most people do the online thing? Because they are ashamed of themselves and don’t want people to know who they really are? It’s not necessarily a good message up front, but it always circles back to make it clear we should be proud of who we are. Maybe that’s reaching-but I like to think that’s the overall message in these books.

But, again, this story differs in that way. This story is more about grief and getting past it-bonding over it and eventually finding out someone understands you and is there for you. It’s about friendship and healing and, finally, seeing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Again, I’m reaching.

All in all this is a super cute, fluffy contemporary that had me biting my lip and praying that Somebody Nobody was indeed who I hoped he’d be-and I was very pleased, thank you very much. SN was the unlikeliest of people to reach out and lend a virtual lending hand to help navigate the jungle of a new school when someone needed it most, and what followed was a story that had me hooked from the start and became possibly one of my favorites of the year. I finished in record time (since that’s now becoming two weeks for every book I read!!!) and devoured every word. I laughed and swooned and my heart went into overdrive. What else can you ask for?

 

SN: you know what I think about sometimes?
Me: What?
SN: you know that piece of hair that always falls into your eyes—the not-quite-a-bang piece? I want to be able to tuck it behind your ear. I want to be able to do that. I want to meet you when I feel comfortable enough with you to do that.

 

And I am SO SICK of people saying ‘just another young adult contemporary borrowed from books before it’ and that books are ‘nothing new’ and how they’ve ‘seen this before’. SO? Don’t all ideas come from somewhere? I am so sick of hearing this. Maybe this makes me naïve-but I LIKE reading similar books to those I’ve loved before. People need to chill. I’m sorry. But they do. All books can be said to be similar-just get OVER it. Seriously. All the books I love have this label from other reviewers yet they like books IIII find cliché-so who is in the wrong here? I don’t know. But what I do know? EVERY book builds on ideas other great authors have established years ago…no idea can be wholly unique, yet book after book gets pegged for being cliché and similar to others before it. But certain books are claimed to be so new and innovative, etc….I ain’t buyin’ it. I find those stories almost MORE generic. So. Meh.

Oops. Ended my review on a rant-not my intention. But, as it were, I felt the winds of defensiveness on the tip of my tongue for my love of YA Contemporary. So take that as you will. I’ll just start yet another wonderful, not-so-new type of YA Contemp book. Come at me-because, frankly, I’ll probably love it, too. Shocker.

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3 Comments

  1. I love this concept too—and I don’t mind reading several books with similar concepts, as long as they’re all done well. I really enjoyed this book too!
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Bite-Sized Reviews of Long Way Down, Nyxia, Hanna Who Fell from the Sky & My Heart and Other Black HolesMy Profile

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