Wednesday 14 December 2016

Review ~ Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Book Description:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. 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?

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.

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?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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Our Review:

Reviewed by Donna ~ 4.5 stars

“In the Venn diagram of my life, my imagined personality and my real personality have never converged. Over email and text, though, I am given those few additional beats I need to be the better, edited version of myself. To be that girl in the glorious intersection.”

I love a good YA, despite my forty-two years of age. When a YA is done well, age is just a number and the story has the capacity to transport you back to your teens and this is what Julie Buxbaum did. This book was the perfect balance of emotion, banter and wit and with poetic prose that keeps those pages turning you will find yourself turning the last page before you know it or want it.

“Maybe home doesn’t have to be a place.”

Jessie’s mother died two years ago, she thought that was the worst of it, but her father drops a doozie, he has eloped, got married and now they need to pack their bags and move to Chicago to move into the home of her step-mother and her son. Leaving the home she loves and her friends behind Jessie is despondent especially when she sees what a far cry from her norm her step-mothers home really is.

“One of the worst parts about someone dying is thinking back to all those times you didn’t ask the right questions, all those times you stupidly assumed you’d have all the time in the world. And this too: how all that time feels like not much time at all. What’s left feels like something manufactured. The overexposed ghosts of memories.”

With a mansion, a fancy private school, a pain in the arse step brother and a step mother that just keeps trying Jessie feels like one tiny little fish in an ocean of posh, entitled sharks. Jessie struggles to fit in at school, friendship dynamics that have been born since birth and social standing are hard to infiltrate and with cliques as tight as theirs Jessie was fighting a losing battle. The new girl is the easy target.

“Welcome. To. The. Jungle.”

Fresh blood in school means new eye candy and it isn’t long before Jessie captures unwanted attention, but it seems she has found an ally, if only she knew who it was.  “Somebody Nobody” is her intel, a friend who wishes to remain anonymous and gives Jessie the lay of the land, who to trust and who to befriend. They soon become fast friends communicating only through words, but it is these words that Jessie becomes reliant upon and the more they communicate the more she wants to know who it is.

“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”

This was a fantastic read, I adored everything about it and while I “knew” who “Somebody Nobody” was I wasn’t really, truly sure until the reveal happened. You know who want it to be, but the thought of it not being them was heart breaking.

“He’s more like me, I think: burdened with the realization that what goes on in his mind is somehow different from what goes on in everyone else’s. Even those closest to us.”

Julie Buxbaum perfectly navigates school life and that constant ache to fit in, to be somebody, to be seen for who you really are, not what people want to see. The difficulties of life after death on both child and lone parent and the impact moving on really has. But most of all it was about friendships, the companionships, the highs and lows and finally about love. Getting to know that someone so deeply, without a face, without an image, to sway perceptions…know the person first. Adored it!!

“Tell me three things…”

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