Thursday, November 30, 2017

"What to Say Next" by Julie Buxbaum

Last summer, I read Julie Buxbaum's delightful Tell Me Three Things. Then What to Say Next released, and my sister highly recommended it, so I requested it from my library. (Remember how awesome my library is?) It turned out to be every bit as good as I'd hoped!

Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Told in alternating viewpoints by chapter, What to Say Next is fascinating and unique. It tells the story of grieving Kit, whose father just died in a car crash, and social outcast David, who has learned it's better to keep to himself lest he be bullied. When the two get to know each other, well, magic happens.

I. Love. David. His voice—that of someone who most likely has Asperger's—is one I can't remember encountering before in fiction, as least not as a main character. The bullying David faces is heartbreaking, infuriating, and all too realistic. I also think Buxbaum's portrayal of David may cause some teens to take a second look at classmates who are different in some way.

Kit I liked but didn't love. She was going through some really rough things, so her reactions to her mom and her friends were understandable, but she still spent a lot of the book being a jerk to everyone except David. That said, I was heartbroken for her as certain things in her past came to light. I probably would've been a jerk in those situations, too.

What to Say Next isn't nearly as fun of a read as Buxbaum's other YA novel Tell Me Three Things, but I think it will stick with me longer. 4 stars.

Content note: There are a few swear words scattered throughout. There's also a party with lots of teen drinking (and Kit becomes drunk at the party). Really, though, it's mild—not squeaky clean, but on the very mild side of PG-13.

Buy the book.
Read my review of Buxbaum's Tell Me Three Things (4-1/2 stars).

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 borrowed this book from my local library 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."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...