I want someone who will talk to me honestly about things. You're the only person who ever has. Maybe you don't know this, but when you're disabled almost no one tells you the truth. They feel too awkward because the truth seems too sad, I guess. You were very brave to walk up to the crippled girl and say, essentially, wipe that sunny expression off your face and look at reality. That's what I want you to do next year. Tell me the truth. That's all.
Amy and Matthew didn't know each other, really. They weren't friends. Matthew remembered her, sure, but he remembered a lot of people from elementary school that he wasn't friends with now.
Matthew never planned to tell Amy what he thought of her cheerful facade, but after he does, Amy realizes she needs someone like him in her life.
As they begin to spend more time with each other, Amy learns that Matthew has his own secrets and she decides to try to help him in the same way he's helped her. And when what started out as a friendship turns into something neither of them expected, they realize that they tell each other everything - except the one thing that matters most.
©2014 Cammie McGovern (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Amy and Matthew find each other through odd circumstances. Matthew is one of a few paid peers who assist Amy with her daily needs in her last year of high school, as she has cerebral palsy. The goal is for her to excel socially as she currently does academically.
While she's being challenged, Amy also encourages Matthew to face some of his issues and together they develop a deep friendship over the span of a year and a half. "Say What You Will" is not a woe-is-me sad melodrama where the cool kid falls for the wallflower. Both characters navigate their strengths and weaknesses with honest gut-wrenching interactions.
This is a smart, lovely story with winding dialogue keeping you glued to your earphones/speakers to see how it ends. McGovern is being compared to John Green, but this book is more akin to "Wonder". Excellent read if you haven't yet.
This is an easy, enjoyable listen, not just for teens and Rebecca Lowman is a fabulous narrator.
I'm an audiobook addict and blog about books at The Reading Date. My favorite genres are YA, New Adult, Fiction & Memoirs.
This book features two outsiders that form a friendship so I totally get the Eleanor & Park (and The Fault in Our Stars) comparison you see in the official description. If you like those books you will probably like this book as well, though Cammie McGovern forges her own path with her novel.
Amy has cerebral palsy, uses a walker to get around and a voice tablet to communicate. She excels in school in every area except socially, and aims to remedy that in her senior year of high school. She convinces her mom to hire peer aides instead of a professional aide to help her out at school as a way to break the ice and make some friends. She particularly wants Matthew to apply because he’s the only person that really sees her and tells it like it is. Matthew, along with four other students/aides, alternate days with Amy, and before long their connection deepens. Matthew’s OCD tendencies work in his favor to make him an attentive and thorough aide, though Amy wants him to set his sights higher.
Amy and Matthew both have their challenges to overcome, though McGovern shows that they have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. Everyone has their issues, as we see in Amy and Matthew’s friendship circle, and some are just more visible than others.
With the trend being alternating first-person pov, it’s refreshing that McGovern chooses third person pov for Say What You Will. I still was able to connect to both Amy and Matthew, though the third person format also created a barrier that was somehow appropriate to the story. McGovern does a great job of keeping the tension up throughout the novel, through distance, and other twists in the narrative. This is an emotional book that I thought about even when I wasn’t reading it. I still kind of wish McGovern didn’t have to go there with the twist in this novel, though I get that it made sense for the characters to go through this challenge.
Rebecca Lowman (Eleanor & Park) performs the audiobook, furthering the E&P comparison. Lowman’s voice works well for mature YA titles like this, and I like listening to her because her vocal work complements the story and doesn’t detract. I did speed up the audiobook though to about 1.5x since this was a “re-read” for me – the audio quality was still good at that speed so take from that what you will. In the book there are some email and text exchanges between Matthew and Amy so if that is a pet peeve for your audio listening (hearing the email addresses called out several times) you may want to pick up the print edition. I didn’t find it annoying personally.
Listen to Say What You Will if you like: Smart contemporary YA, quirky characters, books that challenge you, and a side of dramarama in your stories.
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