Friday, June 13, 2014

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Title: Say What You Will
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

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.

By this point, you’re probably tired of hearing it, but I love contemporary YA fiction. There’s just something about the genre that appeals to me in a way that no other genre really does. Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will, though had a different appeal. Not only was it a contemporary story, but it was one that featured characters that are completely different from what’s out there. And, no surprise, I absolutely loved it. 

Amy has always been the girl who can’t walk without assistance and who needs a computer to be able to talk. It’s never bothered Amy that she’s different from everyone else at her school. She doesn’t care what they think, she’s happy and that’s all that really matters. But when Matthew points out to her that maybe things aren’t exactly the way she sees them, Amy realizes that he may be right. About to start her senior year of high school, she decides to hire student aides to help her get around school. Soon, Amy finds herself spending more time with Matthew and she quickly discovers that he may not be all that different from her. Over the course of that year, both Matthew and Amy will discover that needing help may not be the worse thing that has ever happened to them.

Here’s the thing about Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will: you won’t find another story like it right now in YA. Or at least there isn’t one that I know of. For that reason alone, I really wanted to read this book. And, you know, the cover was really pretty so there’s that too. But in all seriousness, Say What You Will was just a beautiful story. Right from the start I was hooked, wanting to find out more about these two teenagers who are trying to find their place in a world that sees them as different and isn’t all that ready to accept them.  Because really, that’s what this story was about: accepting differences and finding your place in the world. And if nothing else, Cammie McGovern succeeded in showing readers that just because someone looks different on the outside, it doesn’t mean they aren’t just like you in all other aspects of their person. Or at least, I hope readers were convinced, because I know I was. Say What You Will is just an all-around powerful and moving story and I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Amy and Matthew will forever hold a place in my heart. They’re also two characters I won’t be forgetting about any time soon. What I loved about them was that they didn’t define themselves based solely on the fact that they had cerebral palsy (Amy) and obsessive compulsive disorder (Matthew). To themselves, and to each other, they were a lot more than that. Because of that, both of them took me by surprise. I loved Amy’s enthusiasm in the face of everything she had to go through. I loved seeing Matthew become more and more comfortable with Amy and start to overcome some of his compulsions. And I just loved the relationship between the two of them, especially that it wasn’t perfect. It just made it all feel that much more real. And I’m not going to lie, Amy and Matthew totally made me cry, both happy and sad tears. I just couldn’t help it. 

There’s really no other way to put it: Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will is simply a book everyone should read. This is a book that will make you go through the whole range of human emotion and leave you completely raw. But it’s so, completely and totally worth it.

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