Say What You Will
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
The ironic thing about reviewing a book called Say What You Will is that I can't find words to say anything at all. How do you put into words for how you feel about a book that left you thinking about it for days after? I read this a few months ago and it was refreshingly different, something I desperately needed at the time.
The characters connected with me and each other. One of the things I seem to need in a book is connection. I realized that when I love a book, the first thing I think of as a reason is that I connected with the characters. They don't need to be exactly like me (that would be 1. scary, and 2. probably annoying since I don't always like myself), but they need to grab at some part of me. I need to feel interested in them, I need to care about them, I need to understand, and that all leads to me connecting with them. Surprisingly, I connected with Matthew more. This was an alternate POV book, which I love, and I assumed I'd like Amy's POV more. Wrong. I did like Amy, but found myself really excited to get back to Matthew. So not only did SWYW give me a refreshing plot and concept, but it surprised me with the characters and which one I connected with more.
The disabilities. This one doesn't even need a complete sentence because I couldn't think of a suitable verb for it. There was a great insight into Amy's life and her physical disabilities (which I haven't read before) and a look into Matthew's OCD. I've read books involving OCD aspects before, but this one is my favorite by far. Their disabilities played a crucial role in the story and in their lives, but I didn't feel like I was drowning in it all.
THE RELATIONSHIP. Another plus in the book that doesn't have a decent verb to go with it. What I loved about reading about Matthew and Amy together was their progressive relationship. It's slow. At first, he doesn't even really want to be helping her. Then they slowly become friends. Then there's attraction and flirting. And so on. While Amy tiptoed the line of being too weird (as to be expected) in her attraction, I did love watching them become closer. Their progression between weird acquaintances to friends to romance was completely satisfying.
So there's this twist...and I didn't see it coming and I really wasn't sure if I even liked it, but I HAVE to say that I was impressed. For me, it was like Ms. Cammie McGovern set off a bomb, then flipped her hair and walked away as she said, "There you go." Then there I am in surprise with a little bit of my own drool dripping off my chin. Like I said, though, I wasn't sure about it. At first, I didn't even like it. Then I warmed up to it. I think I'll have to read it a second time (fine by me) to actually figure out my feelings towards it.
She sticks the landing! I was super afraid that the ending would be like the other books I had read around the same time, BLAH endings. Other books felt hurriedly resolved or left me feeling dissatisfied. But McGovern truly gave me what I wanted in the ending.
Verdict: Love, love, love this unique contemporary! GO BUY IT.