When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they’re related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby.
But despite her best intentions, she just can’t shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again.
Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?
I read an earlier version of this manuscript over on the Swoon Reads website and fell in love with Jordyn and Alex, so when the final published version was available, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s as good as I remembered and then some. Jordyn’s story is one I think a lot of teens can relate to, particularly teens with a special-needs sibling. It’s not always easy to like Jordyn, but it’s easy to understand her. Being the new girl in high school is hard enough without being the new girl with the “weird” brother.
Jordyn struggles with her friendship with Alex, keeping her relationship to Phillip a secret, and just trying to get through the next sixty days until Phillip is moved to a different school and life can return to normal. But of course things don’t go according to play and how Jordyn steps up and becomes the girl we all know she can be is really what this story is about.
On the surface, it seems to be just a story about a girl who loves a boy she can’t have, but it soon becomes clear it’s so much more than that. Jordyn struggles with a loving a younger brother who doesn’t seem to be able to reciprocate. Being the older sister of an autistic sibling is challenging enough, but when his attendance at her school threatens Jordyn’s social status, she’ll need to decide where her loyalties really lie. And it’s in this subtext where the plot really unfolds.
Yes, Jordyn is selfish at times, worried about what others think of her, terrified of being bullied, or worse, excluded, but show me a teenager who isn’t. She’s incredibly authentic and her growth through the story is honest, painfully so at times. This is Jordyn’s story and she’s well-crafted, deep, and yes, flawed. I get why people might not love her, but I love her for her faults, for being who she is, warts and all. Watching her development over the course of the story was incredibly rewarding. Alex, the love interest, is adorable, and Leighton, the antagonist, is just bitchy enough without succumbing to a stereotype. None of the other characters have anywhere near Jordyn’s depth, though. This is a character-driven story, and it’s all about Jordyn. We spend a lot of time in her head, so it’s a good thing she’s got so much going on in there!
Author, Karole Cozzo, has done her homework, bringing to vivid life what it’s like to live with an autistic family member — the lows, the highs, and everything in between — with heart and more than a few tears.
Jordyn completes her journey as she should, showing us that life isn’t black and white, and sometimes it’s hard to say what you need to out loud, but so rewarding when you finally do.
Top Five Things I Loved about How to Say I Love You Out Loud:
1. Jordyn’s speech. It comes at about the 75% mark, but everything that happens before, leads up to this emotional moment that brought tears to my eyes every time I read it.
2. Jordyn’s surprise for Alex. This sweet moment between the two of them signals a shift in their friendship.
3. Alex Colby. What’s not to love about a boy scout who uses his spare time to build a playground for handicapped kids? Seriously, he may be the perfect book boyfriend.
4. Autism awareness. This book does such a great job of helping readers understand not only what life is like for family members of kids with autism, but what life is like for an autistic child.
5. Closets. Seriously, some of the best moments in the book take place in closets.
How to Say I Love You Out Loud is an emotional look at finding your own words and the strength to say them out loud.
About the Book
Title: How to Say I Love You Out Loud
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
About the Author
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy.
She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule.
Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.