What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Inside cover blurb:

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?”

– from publisher


Image result for happy surprise gif

I didn’t really enjoy Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things so I was a bit skeptical about What to Say Next…but this book surprised me in the best way!

Let me start off by saying that this is probably the first YA novel I’ve read about autism spectrum disorders and I don’t know a whole lot about them in general, so I can’t comment on how realistically David’s character is portrayed.

But I loved the relationship between Kit and David. The death of Kit’s father transforms her worldview and she comes to realize the things she found important before were shallow. This allows her to connect with David, who she had been overlooking for so many years, simply because he was different.

There’s a part where David gets a makeover which is a little cringe worthy, but Buxbaum also pokes fun at it, making comments about how it’s subverting the stereotype of the teenage girl “ugly duckling” moment.

And there’s also a twist ending! You don’t see too many contemporary novels giving you twists and turns, but it really added to the unexpectedness of this story.

Plus: There aren’t as many YA books out there on autism spectrum disorders, or at least I haven’t run across them. Feel free to comment if you know of any good ones!

Minus: The cover is slightly misleading because the book deals with some pretty heavy issues.

If you like this book, try:


Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik- A girl tries to set her sister, who’s on the autism spectrum, up with a boy in her class. And she ends up with feelings for the boy’s brother.

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Inside cover blurb:

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.”

-from publisher


Image result for cringe face gif

I seem to be caught in a never-ending cycle of underwhelming contemporary novels…

Nothing against Emery Lord, but this book was just not for me.

I really appreciated what Lord was trying to do here, especially because I read her afterword. But if the narrative is supposed to be about Vivi as she struggles with the highs and lows of her bipolar disorder, then why do we need Jonah’s narration? He’s an outsider to her condition and hasn’t ever seen her on her medication, so from his point of view, Vivi seems simply unstable. And I legitimately cringed every time he made a comment about one of her outfits…

I feel like this book is meant to humanize the “manic pixie dream girl” archetype. Vivi is not in Jonah’s life to solve his problem because she has her own story and struggles. But for me, the book did not succeed in that.

And Vivi, bless her heart, but I have just never heard a teenager speak the way she does. I mostly just skimmed her dialogue because it was pretty over the top.

Plus: I really appreciated that all of the characters are artists, even the male lead who wants to become a chef.

Minus: This book would have been much more powerful without two narrators. And maybe giving more backstory on Vivi would help us understand the gravity of her choice not to take her medication.

If you like this book, try:

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom- Also about a teen girl with bipolar disorder. I’m interested to see how the two narratives compare.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Inside cover blurb:

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.”

-from publisher 


Image result for i need more  gif

As soon as I heard about Little & Lion, I got myself on its holds list. Bisexuality, mood disorders, family drama…what more could a girl want?

And the story is fantastic, don’t get me wrong! I loved Suzette’s journey from her first girlfriend to her first boyfriend, and her attraction to her female co-worker…who ends up dating her brother. Awkward.

The relationship between Lionel and Suzette is beautiful, too. There’s a cute story origin story about their brother-sister connection when their parents became a couple.

And we’ve got all the identities and all the representation, which is fantastic! YA needs more stories like this.

All that said, it was the writing that let me down. This is a fantastic story with a fantastic message. There is so much drama and emotion here, but I felt that the writing didn’t really grab me the way it could have. The ending was abrupt and as a result, I didn’t really understand Suzette’s final choices at the end of the novel.

But it is still very, very worth your time and attention.

Plus: #realtalk about sexuality and psychological disorders, great character relationships. Also, super cool cover!

Minus: The writing made the story feel a little shallow.

If you like this book, try:

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan- A girl attempts to hide her sexuality in order to fit in to the small world of her private school.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Inside cover blurb:

“What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.”

-from publisher


Image result for nailed it gif

THIS BOOK. So good.

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in the real world, while all those fantasy characters are busy saving the day?

Patrick Ness answers all those questions and more in The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Including what it’s like to be related to the God of Cats.

The main character, Mikey, is a wonderful narrator and though the story is told from his perspective, it’s really an ensemble cast. The scene stealer is Mikey’s little sister, Meredith, a very mature 10 year old who still manages to be an extreme fan of an immensely popular boyband.

I also loved the concept of the indie kids, the ones who are named after inanimate objects and who seem to always attract the weird and supernatural. We all know those people who seem to garner all the attention because they are cool on a seemingly atomic level. Ness pokes fun at them in the best way and I found myself laughing out loud often.

But the real gem of this book is how Ness hammers home the message that we all have issues to deal with, even if we’re not the “special” ones in a storyline. Mikey struggles with mental illness, his sister is dealing with an eating disorder, and all of the characters are dealing with the repurcussions of graduation and the uncertainty of their futures. And maybe we shouldn’t all want to be special, especially if it means we’ll have to fight interdemensional beings.

Plus: A book about real problems with the perfect amount of fantasy and magic. It’s all of my favorite things!!!

Minus: Mikey did seem a bit oblivious sometimes, but I think that’s part of who he is as a character. I have hardly any critiques for this book, if you couldn’t tell.

If you like this book, try:


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness- I don’t just want to recommend books by the same author over and over, but I’m having a hard time coming up with anyone who can write in a similar vein. Monsters and a boy whose mother has cancer. This one is going to take some mental preparation for me.