WHAT TO SAY NEXT
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pub Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.
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?
Do not be fooled by the cutesy, summer-y cover: this is a heartfelt book dealing with grief, Asperger’s (or ASD), and race, among other things. I know I say this all the time, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I read a few mixed reviews–a close friend DNFed it, while others said they absolutely loved it. It’s a quick read, only like 250 pages, so I read it in an afternoon to get my own opinion on it.
The verdict? It was *super* cute and I’m totally enchanted by this book.
There are two POVs in this book, Kit and David. Both couldn’t be different: Kit is a biracial Indian girl who is pretty popular and well liked in school, whereas David is a boy who has Asperger’s and describes himself as someone who likes to be alone. The author did a FANTASTIC job at differing their voices. There was absolutely no way to confuse the two characters. Kit’s voice reads pretty much like an average teenage girl in 2017, but the true gem of this book was David’s voice. I have an older brother with Asperger’s and reading David’s thought process was nearly identical to my brother’s. David’s actions, how he interacted with other people, his thoughts–all of this was amazing and accurate. The author was very respectful about it and David was surrounded by a loving family who supported him in every way, so I thought this was great rep.
And Kit! I often laughed out loud at her dry humor because she was just so real about everything. She also talked about her heritage a lot, so this isn’t one of those books where you’re like halfway in and you go “WAIT, SHE’S NOT WHITE???” Her relationship with her mother (who is Indian) is complicated at times, but she always loves her mother, and I thought that was really relatable, regardless of what race you are. Basically, I thought all of the rep in this book was really well done.
The plot was always interesting. I was constantly rooting for our two leads–rooting for Kit to heal and move on from her father’s death, rooting for David to “get the girl”. Everything they did throughout the story felt something a real teen would do. Honestly, I don’t really have any complaints about the plot. The author did an amazing job making me care about the characters. There were times when I wanted to throttle people, and there were times when I was squealing silently because everything about Kit and David was so cute. The story was constantly moving and I was always engaged. A+ storytelling.
This romance was possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever read. I’ve never read a book with a lead that has autism, but man, was it adorable. I shipped Kit and David from the very beginning; they worked so well together, and Kit never ever thought less of David for his disability. It was definitely more of a slow burn romance, simply because they started off as acquaintances and worked toward something more. It’s one of the best romances I’ve ever read in YA because the characters respected each other, were able to work out their conflicts, and they cared deeply about one another in more than just a romantic way.
There isn’t much I disliked about this book. There were a couple of side characters that were super flat and stereotypical “mean girls/guys”, and there was one plot twist I saw coming from a mile away, but other than that, I have no complaints.
And in case you’re wondering–that ending? So realistic and honest and hopeful. A great ending to sweet a book.
Overall, What to Say Next was a cute, heartfelt read about two teenagers navigating the world amidst grief and the complex world that is high school. Kit and David’s story was interesting and engaging, their relationship was adorable, and all of the rep was well done. If you’re looking for an important but adorable read this summer, you should definitely pick up this book.