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.
Words are not adequate to express how I feel after finishing Say What You Will. But, as a writer, I feel like I should at least try. Just saying I loved it feels inadequate.
I savored this book, taking my time. Not because it was difficult to get through, but because I didn’t want it to end. I haven’t done that with a book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The book is billed as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park, but it’s so much more than that. It’s both of those and it’s neither. Cammie McGovern’s voice is unique, and beautiful, and her writing makes me feel. I both laughed and cried, something I rarely do while reading.
The storyline is utterly unique and almost as quirky as the characters that fill the pages. It is a surprisingly realistic, emotional, stunning tale of love, friendship, and the rewards and consequences of taking control of your own life. A true coming of age story with an extraordinary twist.
The plot is amazing, ebbing and flowing, never losing touch with where it’s going or why. Told from alternating points of view, we follow Amy and Matthew from the beginning of their senior year of high school through their first year post graduation. We watch them grow, change, make mistakes, learn from them, and make so many more, but we never stop rooting for them.
As both Amy and Matthew struggle to not be defined by their limitations – Amy’s physical and Matthew’s emotional – they realize that together they’re something more than who they’ve always believed themselves to be. Both better and worse.
There were surprises, things I never saw coming, some delighted me, some were difficult to read, but everything felt like it belonged, like it was all a part of this amazing journey.
I know they’re not real, but I feel like I’m a better person for knowing Amy and Matthew and that’s saying a lot about fictional characters. I’ll never look at another physically or emotionally challenged person the same way again. The author has crafted such authentic characters that I had to constantly remind myself they only exist in the minds of the author and her readers.
Cammie McGovern has sculpted beautifully flawed individuals who are only more beautiful because of their imperfections. And I’m not talking about Amy’s cerebral palsy or Matthew’s OCD, but the very human aspects that pull them off the page and turn them into three dimensional, thinking, feeling, less than perfect humans that we want to spend time with, laugh with, just be with.
This story has something for everyone. It is a young adult/new adult story, but it has so much more to offer that I want to tell everyone I know to read it. I feel like I need more than five stars. Five stars is exceptional. What is above that? Quite simply, Say What You Will is the best book of any genre I’ve read in a long time.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Say What You Will
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
About the Author
Cammie McGovern was born in Evanston, Illinois, but moved to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. She is the author of three adult novels, The Art of Seeing, Eye Contact, and Neighborhood Watch. Say What You Will will be published by HarperTeen in June, 2014. She currently lives in Amherst, MA, with her husband and three sons, the oldest of whom is autistic.