Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Finished on May 27, 2016
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
John Green's The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern's insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
It's been a long time since a book has grabbed my attention as quickly and as thoroughly as this one did! I gulped down the first half on the night I began reading and came very close to finishing the book the following night, but finally forced myself to put it down and get some sleep. Just as the blurb states, fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park (and I'll add Wonder by R.J. Palacio to the list) will enjoy this teen novel about the power of friendship and love. The author addresses the symptoms and challenges of Cerebral Palsy and OCD directly and informatively, educating her readers without becoming too technical or pedantic. There are also references to sexual awakenings, but none that involve any graphic situations.
On life with CP:
That night she brought the magazine home with her. She even tore out the picture and stuck it in the frame of her full-length standing mirror so she could study it and compare herself. For a long time she stood with her walker to the side, and hung her head in the same way the model did. Her hair was prettier. Her good arm was good. Everything else, not so great. She couldn't will her bad arm to uncurl, couldn't loosen her fist or relax the tendons that stood out with the effort of holding her head up. Nor could she do the one thing that would have helped the most: soften her face so that it was pliable and capable of showing the expressions other people took for granted. Her face had only a handful of options: raised eyebrows (for surprise and joy); a closed-mouth O (for worry and concentration); and a wide-open mouth that filled in for everything else. She had no smile of approval, no soft frown of disapproval, nothing subtle. In every photograph of her, she wore one of these three expressions. The only exception was a picture taken when she was asleep, and then her face softened, like she didn't have CP at all. Why was that possible in her sleep but impossible awake? She couldn't say. Just as she couldn't say why her parents continued to purchase large sets of her school-picture packages, as an annual reminder of her inability to smile.Final Thoughts:
I don't usually care for YA novels, as they tend to be filled with a lot of teenage angst. I'm happy to report that Say What You Will does not fall in that category and I found that the situations and dialogue rang true. I also like that it wasn't predictable, another fault of many YA novels. Highly recommend!