BOOK REVIEW: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: Call It What You Want by Brigid KemmererCall It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
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Synopsis:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father's failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they're both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they've built. But when Maegan learns of Rob's plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship . . .

In her compulsively readable storytelling, Brigid Kemmerer pens another captivating, heartfelt novel that asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Review:

Call It What You Want was a beautifully, emotional story.  If you’re looking for something that will consume you, pull your emotions every which way and will stay with you for a long time to come, then definitely pick this one up.  I easily became obsessed with Rob and Maegan’s lives.  And I’m so happy I fell madly in love with another book by Brigid Kemmerer.

We were from two different worlds once: popular boy and nerdy girl. We’re still from two different worlds: cop’s daughter and criminal’s son.

This story started off with an emotional bang and we get brought right into Rob’s life.  His dad betrayed his family in multiple ways and he and his mother were left with the damage and fall out from it all.  There was no escaping it and I could feel Rob’s heart bleeding from the pages.  And in the next chapter we were dropped right into Maegan’s world.  Her sister came home from college pregnant, and if that wasn’t enough to push the tension in her house through the roof, Maegan did something that labeled her a cheater at school.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Maybe . . . we can start over.”
His eyes search my face. “Fine.” He puts out a hand like a businessman. “Rob Lachlan. Non-slacker.”
“Maegan Day.” I shake his hand. Most boys at school shake hands with the passivity of a trained cocker spaniel, but Rob’s fingers close around mine securely. I can feel the strength in his grip. I have to swallow. “Overly judgmental.”

Rob and Maegan had both been branded at their school.  They became outcasts and their classmates had no problem saying horrible things to their faces.  They were both drowning in their own problems and pain, and it felt like they were both so alone.  So when Rob and Maegan got partnered together in math class, to work on a project, I had so much hope.  But right from the start they got off on the wrong foot and were completely awkward around each other.

I pull a slip of loose-leaf out of my binder and write a quick note to him.
Are you okay
When I slide it on top of his notebook, he stares at the words for the longest time.
I wish I could crawl inside his head and figure him out. Then he gives me a brief nod, folds the note in half, and tucks it into his backpack.
And then, for the rest of the period, he keeps his eyes focused forward and never once turns to look at me.

But as they met more and more, they started to talk with each.  When Rob gave little peaks of his life to Maegan, my eyes would sting with tears.  His world was pain and I hurt so bad listening to him.  But Maegan’s world was extremely emotional too.  Even just a family dinner at her house was a mine field.  The tension was horrific and drama and emotions were always running high.  Rob and Maegan both wanted to escape their houses and who they were.  So when they were next to each other, not even talking, it seemed like they felt a little less alone.

I don’t deserve her friendship. I don’t deserve kindness. Not from anyone.
But her fingers were so warm on mine. The air so quiet between us. The beginning of trust.
Then her friends showed up.
We know who he is.

If you’re a sucker for tortured characters, you’re going to love Rob.  His thoughts were dark, deep and brutally honest.  I quickly connected and was consumed by Rob.  But I desperately wanted to protect him since he was so immersed with his hurt and it felt suffocating at times.  And when obstacles were thrown in his path, I just wanted him to find some happiness or peace.  He deserved it and I hoped he’d find that with Maegan, while also helping her with her pain.

“One mistake doesn’t define you.”
She sniffs and carefully swipes at her eyes. “You’re going to wreck all of Sam’s handiwork.”
That makes me smile. I want to touch her so badly that my hand aches , but I still can’t tell if she feels the same way, or if she’s saying these things out of kindness.

On top of Meagan and Rob, there were two side characters I became attached to also.  Samantha, was Maegan’s sister, and I I loved watching their relationship play out.  And Owen, who seemed like a possible friend to Rob.  Watching both of those relationships transform added so much depth to this story, especially since Samantha and Owen shined so brightly.  So YES, I definitely recommend this book.  If you love YA, emotional stories and deep characters then definitely pick this one up!

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11 Comments

  1. Beware Of The Reader

    September 5, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I totally agree with you Jen! And what I loved is that Brigid let him make mistakes (even if I wanted to shout “don’t do it!!”) because that’s what people do 😉

    • YES! She allowed him to make mistakes. Oh it hurt my heart so much and I kept thinking come on, I know you can turn it all around. But that is so true, I love how real and flawed she makes her characters, it’s always amazing!

  2. Based on your review, this book sounds perfect for me! (I’m definitely a sucker for a tortured character.) I always love Kemmerer, so I already know this one will be a fave.
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan: Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  3. I know I’ve got to read this author one of these days. Your review just cements that. Of course this title makes me think of a song by New Kids on the Block, so now I’ve got that song running through my head. 🙂
    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted…Blog Tour Review: Jock Road (Jock Hard #3) by Sara NeyMy Profile

    • Letters to the Lost is one from a few years back by her and it’s still my #1 book by her. It’s beautiful and tortured and haunting and will stay with you a long time to come. But this book is beautiful too. ♥ Ohhhhhh YES!!!! I never made that connection before but now I’m going to hear that song every time I say this title lol!!

  4. Great review, Jen! I’m so glad you loved this book as much as I did! Rob was such an amazing character! It was pretty easy to connect with him! Brigid is quite talented in writing complex and flawed characters. I can’t wait to know what she has in store for us next.
    Raven @ Dreamy Addictions recently posted…War (The Four Horsemen #2) By Laura Thalassa [Review]My Profile

    • I was nodding my head yes to everything that you said lol. She is amazing at writing contemporary romance that pulls at your heart, is beautifully heartfelt and so easy to connect with. I can’t wait to see what she has in store next for us either!!

  5. This sounds so good!!! I’m putting it on my tbr definitely!! Will have it ready incase I need an emotional read. Rob sounds like the kind of character who I just wanna hug. And I love that you mentioned the side characters – they’re a huge part in making me love the story tbh <3

    • This book was so so so good! If you haven’t read Letters to the Lost, that book by her is beyond phenomenal too. I hope you enjoy! And yes, I completely agree, side characters can definitely help make or break a book. ♥

  6. Thanks for the awesome review!

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