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BOOK REVIEW: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

BOOK REVIEW: What to Say Next by Julie BuxbaumWhat to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

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?

 

 “What are we going to do with you?” she asks, and my stomach clenches. Freshman year, when I would find myself in trouble at school on a biweekly basis, Principal Hoch would pose this question, which is both idiomatic and rhetorical. What are we going to do with you? Like I was a group project.
Just once I’d like the answer to be: nothing.
Just once I’d like the answer to be: You are just fine as is.
Just once I’d like the question not to be asked in the first place.

Not so long ago I read and fell in love with an amazing book by this very author. It had a secretive, fun romance that stole my heart. It was laced with family drama and new relationships. It was brimming with the realities of what happens when you move to another state and start making new friends…all while your best friend is way back where, making new friends, as well. In short: It was a story that touched on many different levels with me and I devoured it within days (again, this is great for me lately lol).

It doesn’t matter whether you call me an Aspie or a weirdo or even a moron. The fact remains that I very much wish I were more like everyone else.

So, naturally, I saw this book and knew I just HAD to read it as soon as possible-but I didn’t. I saved it, waiting for that perfect moment when I could finally pick up a book by a new promising author I loved, thinking that, of course, this book would bring forth the same amount of emotion from me as her first novel did. And, for many, it accomplished that feat. As for me? I was left wondering how this could possibly be the same author.

Your outsides match your insides better now, Kit said earlier, but she was wrong. No, now my real insides are all on the outside for everyone to pick apart and laugh at. I’m like roadkill. I’ll be looked at, examined, but I won’t even be eaten. I’m not worth that much.

Sure, it was cute enough. It was interesting. It was sweet…and it even had some of the same quirkiness that her first book did. But, that’s just it-I’m reaching here, trying to grasp onto things that don’t really exist. Yes, it had its moments where I’d gear up and think, well here we goooo!, almost immediately finding that it was going in a direction I couldn’t stand behind.

Here’s the thing about making a friend that I didn’t understand before I started talking to Kit: They grow your world. Allow for previously inconceivable possibilities.

I suppose, in part, this is my fault. I had extremely high expectations and wanted another win. I wanted to fall in love as hard as I had previously, wanted my expectations exceeded. Instead they fell flat.

Miney does that sometimes, though she accompanies it with the words Can I get a woot woot? I never oblige. I have no idea what a woot woot is.

I didn’t much care for the characters. I think this is the base of my emotions. The main girl is fine, and I think she really did like David (I loved David, naturally), but it made me more mad than happy most of the time. I almost felt like it wasn’t authentic, that she was judging him the whole time. And this is a big contradiction for me-Don’t we all judge those who are we dating? I mean, yeah, of course! But….but. Seeing as he is, well, I can’t say, I just, my feelings were hurt for him on more than one occasion. And yes, that’s the way its meant to be taken-buuuuut not always. The type of sadness I felt sometimes was off, like I was sad for the wrong reasons. Anyway, back to my point- He can’t help the way he is, and I don’t know. I hurt. I hurt a lot while reading this…and I don’t quite think this is what the author had intended.

I stop listening. No, this isn’t fixable. I see that now. Reading my notebook is like opening up my brain and exposing to the uncaring world all the parts that don’t make sense. The parts that make me a freak or a moron or a loser or whatever words people like to throw at me.
The parts to them that make me other.
The parts to me that make me me.

Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for this and normally I devour these stories. This just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the school and how they only were nice to David once he changed his look, and I don’t believe those are the reactions he’d get for what happens half way through, and, honestly, I just didn’t believe any of it-and I’m not one that is bad at suspending disbelief, so you know its off.

Catty mean girls, bully jocks, and a girl who is going through a sad time but inspires our main man…for me, there just wasn’t enough story or enough something to keep me interested. More issues than likes, I have to sadly say this book didn’t work for me. It made me, more than anything, depressed. And I wanted so badly to love this story-the guy was just so sweet. But, as they say, a spade is a spade….I just didn’t enjoy anything much about this book. Hopefully her next will be better for moi.

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BOOK REVIEW: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

BOOK REVIEW: Tell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

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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