Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Tell Me Three Things" by Julie Buxbaum

What is it about YA? I am well, well past the target demographic for YA novels, but I still love them. It's interesting, though—while I love reading about teenagers falling in love, it really bugs me when adult romances feature women in their early 20's. I'm not exactly sure why that is ...

Anyway, I picked up Tell Me Three Things on the recommendation of Modern Mrs. Darcy, but, as I'm wont to do, I never read it. Then yesterday I saw that one of my blogger friends had featured it on Instagram, and I'm between books right now, so I thought, "Why not?" I started reading this afternoon, and I basically didn't stop until I'd finished.

What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week as a junior at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Captivating. Cute. Heartbreaking: three words that could be used to describe Tell Me Three Things. Plus, it has a You've Got Mail vibe to it, and that's never a bad thing!

From the very first chapter, where Jessie marks time by how long it's been since her mom died and she receives an email from "Somebody Nobody" (SN), I was captivated by the story. Much of it is told in emails, texts, and instant messages, which, let's be honest, is how many of us communicate with our friends. This is a story telling device that I really enjoy, though I know it does drive some readers crazy.

As I read, I cared so much for Jessie. I wanted her to make friends. I wanted her to get the job she wanted. I wanted her to connect with her new stepbrother and stepmother. I wanted her to tell off mean girl Gem. And I wanted to scream at her, "______ is SN!!!"

That's really where my only complaint about the novel comes in: while ostensibly three guys at Jessie's school could be SN, only one of them makes any sense. And she. does. not. see. it. While I wish that at least one of the other candidates would have been remotely plausible, the big reveal at the end is done in such a way that I can almost forgive Jessie's obliviousness.

Overall, this is a really cute story that also deftly deals with serious issues like the death of a parent and bullying. I basically loved every minute I spent reading it! 4-1/2 stars.

Content note: Tell Me Three Things does contain a fair bit of swearing, some crass humor, and talk of sex (never graphic). There's also some teenage drinking (Jessie gets drunk on a couple of occasions, and her stepmother gives her a glass of wine) and marijuana use. It's not a book that I would give to the teens in my life, but I think it's fine for adults.

Buy the book.

1. Julie Buxbaum is the author of the critically acclaimed The Opposite of Love, After You, and Tell Me Three Things, and her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. 
2. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish, and once received an anonymous email which inspired her YA debut.
3. You can visit Julie online at and follow @juliebux on Twitter where she doesn’t list everything in groups of three.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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