Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: SAY WHAT YOU WILL by Cammie McGovern

Title: Say What You Will
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
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.

16 comments:

  1. Oh, I love what you said about the twist, Summer! I agree, it was kind of daring of the author to go there, but I really like how it was dealt with, too. I don't think I enjoyed this one as much as you, but it was still a pretty good story. And that ending was worth it all, even if I did feel like I got cheated a bit. :P Great review!

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  2. I'm sooo happy you connected with the characters the way you did, Summer! From the sound of it, you'll always treasure them. :) I've never read a book involving OCD before, and from what I gather, this book handles it in such a unique and tasteful fashion. I'll have to remember this book if I ever have the urge to read a story involving this particular disorder. It's good to know this book packs so much more though! Thanks for sharing with us!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

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    1. As you can see, I'd definitely recommend it ;)

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  3. I love the way you started this review because I felt the same way upon finishing Say What You Will—it left me temporarily speechless. I don't really know how to respond to your review either because you captured it all. Each character is so complex and easy to care about, and their strengths and weaknesses align in a way that makes them the perfect fictional couple. And that ending! Just when I thought the story was drawing to a close, the author just hit me with an "oh, wait, there's more," but not in a way that feels unnecessary. I NEED another Cammie McGovern book, and I'm so glad to hear you liked this one.

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    1. EXACTLY. She did that "oh wait" perfectly, which is always hard to do, in my opinion. Do you hear that, Cammie, WE NEED MORE BOOKS!

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  4. I will definitely be reading this! Ever since TFiOS, cancer and disabilities has become a major contemporary YA fad. I was getting sick of it, honestly, but I would love to read a legitimately well done disabilities-based book. And the slow romance is an extra bonus - I don't believe in love at first sight. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. See, I guess I haven't read much YA disabilities books, but there have been cancer elements in some, even if it's not IN the main character. I don't believe in love at first sight either, slow-burn is the way to go ;)

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  5. I love a unique book. I love twists, and I love a slow romance. I'll definitely be checking this one out now, you've convinced me :) It's great that this one has the ability to keep you thinking too. And YES a well written ending. Contemporary endings almost always never satisfy me so I'm glad you liked this one.

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  6. I think I'll have to check this one out! It sounds like the relationship these two have, as they struggle with different disabilities, is similar to the novel I'm working on, though not TOO similar. It definitely sounds intriguing; thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book, Summer!

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    1. Well, I'm glad it's not TOO similar, but man, after reading your post before about your projects, this gets me even MORE excited to read about it ;)

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  7. This book made me think too. I was blown away by Amy and how strong she was. It did put things for myself in perspective. She deals with her disability in such a realistic way and I loved her voice. I also liked Matthew a lot and how they complete each other on different aspects of life. I love it :)

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  8. I like how you talk about connection - I definitely need to feel emotionally connected to characters to truly love a story. I'm so happy this gave that to you. The way you describe the slow building romance is VERY appealing. I'm always up for that, and I'm excited about reading about characters with disability and seeing how it all plays out. I'm now very curious about the twist too. You definitely made me want to pick this up!!

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