Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovernSay What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperTeen on June 3rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

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.

Say What You Will is a moving story about two people facing incredible challenges that fall in love and find hope in each other. It’s sweet and wonderful, but also sad and frustrating at times. 3rd person is always hard for me to connect to characters in a book, and this is where my inability to love this one stems from. I also found it a tad long which is probably related to the latter. But it’s a book I’m glad I read; the raw honesty of these people’s harsh lives ended up being both eye opening and inspiring.

Told in dual POV, we have Amy who has cerebral palsy, she needs the help of a walker to get around, and she can only speak using a computerized voice box. She’s also extremely intelligent and highly aware of how people see her, not to mention very lonely. I found her characters highly compelling. I enjoyed how brutally honest she was with herself, and how she was bold enough to try and connect with people who simply did not get her. Not everyone would have her high spirits in her situation, and especially not her guts. She even had an amusing sense of humour that made me chuckle with regularity. Then we have Matthew who I didn’t click with as much as I did her. I found him a bit frustrating, to be honest, even offensive at times. It’s like he didn’t even want to try and kept living in the past. I did find it interesting to look into the perspective of someone with OCD, but I simply didn’t find him to be a very likeable character. He does go through a great deal of character growth by the end, however, which helped.

Together is where they shine. They help each other overcome their fears and end up connecting in a way neither of them expected. This made for a sweet romance that is both cute and believable. I appreciated the true depiction of a first-love romance. It’s filled with anxiety, confusion and insecurities, but also with excitement, anticipation, and forgiveness. There’s a twist in the story that’s heartbreaking, but gives the book that much more depth. I liked how realistically and delicately that was handled, as well.

If only the book wasn’t written in 3rd person, I would have felt much closer to the characters. As it lay, I was kept at a distance due to the narrative choice. My emotional attachment was not as strong as it could have been. I understood that it was a beautiful, heartbreaking journey, I understood the importance in the book’s message, but I didn’t exactly feel it, if you know what I mean. Similarly, the characters’ personalities were not as well defined as they could have been – especially the supporting cast – and I didn’t feel I got to really know them. Still, the power of this novel lays in its message of being the absolute best you can be, no matter how people see you, and no matter the hand life dealt you. Also, be kind to those who look different on the outside, because on the inside they’re just the same as you!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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19 Responses to “Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern”

  1. Zaira F

    I am so excited to read this book! I do think that having something in the first POV would provide more closure. I get that problem when something is in the 3rd POV too

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’ll be reading this book soon, Giselle, so I only skimmed your review because I have to write a review too. Anyways, I’ve been excited for this book for some time now. I wasn’t aware that it was written in the third person POV, but I can understand how it prevented you from fully emotionally connecting to the story. That happens to me all the time with third person writing in YA contemporaries too. Despite that, it sounds like the message the book sends is really positive and strong. I’m curious to see how our opinions on the book will line up. I’ll come back and read it in its entirety once I’ve written my full review.

  3. Rashika

    I am reading this book soon and in all honesty, I am not sure how I’ll feel. I know Jenni had a problem with the 3rd person too and while I don’t always mind 3rd person, I am kind of worried now whether this will make it harder for me to enjoy the book.

    I am glad to hear that you did like it though! 🙂

    Lovely review, Giselle!! 🙂

  4. Michelle

    This sounds like a promising read. I’m sorry that this book didn’t really work for you. It would probably be better if it is in first person’s POV. Great review!

  5. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    Amy and Michael’s story itself sounds like a good one, but I can see how the 3rd person narrative would make it hard to connect with them. I’m glad you still enjoy it though despite that. Great review. I wonder if my library will carry this one, I will have to check.

  6. ShootingStarsMag

    I do want to read this one. it sounds very interesting! I think the 3rd person point of view would make it a bit difficult to connect, but I do still want to check it out.

  7. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    I always find that with emotional stories like this, it’s better to be in 1st person perspective, just so I can really get into the characters and how they’re feeling. OCD can also be annoying to read about, just because it’s a disorder that’s repetitive and annoying be definition. So I guess in a way the author did a good job, because you could understand how Matthew was feeling.

  8. Farah

    ooh.. Amy sounds like a very interesting character! I’m not a big fan of 3rd POV either, because like you, I find it hard to connect to the characters. Great review!
    – Farah @MajiBookshelf

  9. Melliane

    It sounds like a really interesting book but I think I can understand why you felt a little behind for the characters. Sometimes the person changes everything. It’s usually ok for me but it can happen.

  10. Jennifer Bielman

    Wow sounds so emotional. I just got this one in the mail, so I will be reading it. I agree though, 3rd person makes it hard to connect with the characters for me. It’s funny because I always hear how most people hate first person but that’s the best to me.

    • Giselle

      Really? People hate first person? That’s the only way I get to REALLY connect to a character so that’s def my preferred choice too especially for a contemp. I don’t mind as much when it’s a plot driven book like a dystopian etc.

  11. Zoe N.

    YES! I absolutely agree Giselle. I love third person narration in fantasy and sci-fi novels, but in a contemporary like this it just doesn’t work as well as I’d like it to. Probably because it’s more character driven and we want to get inside the character’s heads more. But, like you said, this made me a bit distant from the characters, and my experience was a bit “meh.”

    Besides that, though, this was a wonderful novel! Thank you so much for sharing Giselle, and, as always, BRILLIANT review!

  12. Pili

    This is a book that sounds like an amazing read! I might not be ready emotionally for something like this, but maybe the third person will help me not connect to it too much to make me feel too much… who knows! I’m definitely adding it to the TBR list!
    Great review, Giselle!