Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (5th April 2016)
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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It’s been a while since I’ve read a cute contemporary when once upon a time, that literally used to be allllll I ever read. Lately, I’ve been delving into crime/thrillers, adult fiction *okay that’s just two examples, I thought I was about to list like 5 more* LOL but basically, delving into a more varied range and not just picking up contemporary after contemporary.
This reminded me a lot of one of my favourite books everrrr, Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty - in the sense that there’s a guy who’s watching our female character from afar, is making contact with her, and she’s trying to find who this guy is out in the real world. With Feeling Sorry For Celia, it was through letters, in Tell Me Three Things, it’s through email - both are ways which I love. I have such a thing about stories that include letters or text or emails as chapters, or interspersed throughout the book, it just makes a really nice change from chomping through a regular narrative, which don’t get me wrong is great, but including other forms of narrative like those mentioned above just makes me really, really happy. Another one of my fav books ever for example, is Holly’s Inbox, which comprises solely of written emails from one person to another. You’d think that would make it a hard story to follow and to build a plot when it’s just emails, but man alive, how wrong you would be. I.. sense that I’m getting off track here, so let me bring it back to the actual review.
This was a cute book, but there were a few things I didn’t like about it, which I will talk about later on in the review and instead start with what I did like. It was a really easy read, with fluid writing that let me finish this in one sitting. We follow the life of Jessie who has been forced to move across the country as her Dad re-marries and throws into her life a step-mother and a step-brother to boot. Her relationship with her Dad, and these new additions is strained and tenuous.
In regards to the emails, they were HILARIOUS. Full of a lot of wit and banter which was my style of humour; and while it did seem a little too good to be true in how witty and sarcastic they were, given they’re just teens, I will let it go because it’s fiction, it was funny, and I’m not meant to be sitting here over analysing the communication of these two characters, merely meant to enjoy it.
Another thing about this book, which reminded me of another book (is this going to become a trend here?) LOL the way Jessie is with the new step-mother, reminded me of Sarah Dessen’s Along For The Ride - in how the main character starts to slowly form a relationship with this parental figure as they’re thrown in the mix together. They reach an understanding and realise they were wrong about each other and there’s a lot binding them together, more than they think. I liked that about Jessie and the step-mother in this book. That scene where she gives Jessie the ticket to visit back home and says..
“No problem,” Rachel says, and stands up. “But just so you know, there is one condition.” I wait for it. What could she possibly want from me? Rent money? For me to make up with dad?
“You have to come back.”
Jessie’s relationship with her new brother, Theo, was another welcome addition for me - how they slowly get to know one another, unravel each other’s characters. Because I’m a sucker for these things, I really liked the scene where Theo defends her.
“And although this place is pretty big—a whole house will be built on this plot of land—Gem is for some reason drawn to that which she hates, and she finds me.
Walks right by, so close that I shouldn’t be surprised when I feel her shoulder jam into mine. And yet, I am. The pain is sharp and perverse, and I imagine it hurt her just as much as it hurt me. Maybe more, since she’s bony.
“Excuse me,” she says, all righteous indignation. Theo and I have just arrived, so I haven’t even had a chance to find my friends, to at least surround myself by my wholly ineffective girl team. Not that Dri and Agnes could do anything, necessarily, but still.”
“What does Gem want from me? A scene? A punch? Tears? Or am I giving her exactly what she’s asking for when I stand here and look at her, slack-jawed? No words come, not even the easy ones she likes to slug at me.
“Really?” Theo says, and at first I think he’s talking to me, and I feel so alone that I may actually cry, right here, right now. Finally give the people what they want.
“Touch Jessie again, and I swear to God, I will ruin you.”
Theo is talking to Gem, actually pointing his finger in her face. He looks menacing in his own version of a community service day outfit: lumberjack flannel shirt, designer jeans, spotless, intentionally untied Timberlands.
She just stares at him, and I can see her gum sitting stupidly in her mouth.
“Blink once so I know you understand what I’m saying,” he says.
Jessie and SN are damn cute. And as for who SN could be - IT WAS SO OBVIOUS. HOW COULD IT EVEN BE ANYONE ELSE IN HER MIND? It’s funny in a way that this person didn’t even once cross her mind as being the guy. The relationship that formed between these two was adorable, and sweet and I liked it because it was all about how the opened up to each other, the way they started to trust each other - granted one person had the upper hand, but even then, their little “tell me three things” thing was just too sweet.
NOW. The not so cute and not so great things:
1. My biggest pet peeve when it comes to these types of contemporaries is when EVERY SINGLE FEMALE aside from the main character, is made out to be some vindictive, evil, soul-sucking character who just happens to be skinny and blonde - Gem, from the above quote, being a perfect example of just that. All used in highlighting further apparently how sweet, innocent and naive our main female lead is - can we please stop this trend in YA books please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I’m not exaggerating, please view next quote for reference, where people were described as “mostly blond, vacant-eyed Barbies and Kens”. We don’t need to put other people down in order to make another one look good, okay. Period. So what if they’re blonde and all things Barbie and Ken - not every character needs to be some soulfully wounded and deep individual who projects an air of mystery. SIGH.
2. The character of Scarlet. You’ll probably get this if you’ve read the book, but I was so confused for a bit because Jessie and Scarlet are best friends. Whenever Jessie talks to her, she always asks her how things are, what’s going on, enquires about her life, and Scarlet usually gives a few answers but doesn’t expand much - her choice really. But when Jessie goes to visit her, Scarlet’s suddenly giving her the cold shoulder and saying she never asked about her and only whined about her own life and blah blah blah. I was like, baffled - because she did ask! She did enquire! Sure, she did whine about her life, but she gave you chances to talk about yours too and never shut you down - you just didn’t talk about it! That whole argument was just really unnecessary and out of the blue really - could have done without that drama tbh.
In the end, I also would have liked more on the scene about SN being revealed, to me it felt really rushed, with not enough time given for the pieces to be gathered once it was out in the open and the way in which it was done was anti-climatic too - I just wanted more of a bang, but instead was left with a little fizzle and smoke. Overall, despite the few issues I did have with the book, I did enjoy reading it and found many aspects of it cute and sweet. There are contemporaries out there that are better and some that are worse - but this one sits in the middle and did the job for when I needed a romantic little fix.