Saturday, 6 January 2018

What To Say Next - Julie Buxbaum; Review

Book Details:
Hardcover: 292 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (11th July 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553535684
ISBN-13: 978-0553535686


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?

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This author had secured herself in my ‘when-a-new-book-is-out-by-them-you-MUST-read’ list after Tell Me Three Things which I read last year. Of course, as the title of the above list goes, as soon as I knew she had another book out, I was clicking my fat fingers away to get my copy. An added bonus - the storyline sounded great, and the cover was adorkable. As was the title - tick tick tick. I was not disappointed with this book, and neither will you be.

Buxbaum’s writing style is one of those that is straight up my alley - fluid, easy to read in one sitting, witty, sarcastic and at times, deep. I loved that about Tell Me Three Things and more so in What To Say Next. In this book we are introduced to Kit and David, both of who I ended up loving, one more than the other *cough, David - heart heart heart*. After the death of her Father, Kit no longer knows how to be around people, how to be ‘normal’ in the way people expect her to. She decides one day to sit with David - who, as recounted, has sat alone for 622 while he has been at Maple View High. His conversation opener? ‘So your Dad is dead’. What does Kit respond? You’ll have to read and find out!

This one action sparks a lovely story about friendship, about loss and healing. I loved both Kit and David, obviously David more so. David has ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder - he’s a unique and brilliant individual in so many ways and the construct of this character is one of my fav things about this book. David reminds me a lot of Jacob Hunt in Jodi Picoult’s House Rules - if you’ve read the book, you’ll know why - but both these characters are ones I adored. There’s a particular quote which I’m so glad the author used in the book - which I love and appreciate. 

“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then…you’ve met one person with autism. So you met me. Just me. Not a diagnosis.”

What I adored about the friendship between Kit and David was that this wasn’t a friendship that would bring to fruition a popular David, or have him be accepted by the ‘popular’ crowd - instead that I gleaned from their relationship was that Kit never intended to change him in any way - but instead helped him be himself fully, openly. This, is a glorious, GLORIOUS THING. 

“Be normal I think. Be like the neurotypical, which is another way of saying “everyone else.” Be less like me. I no longer want to be less like me."

She helped broaden his horizon, helps him be who he is without apology. Their awkward, peculiar little friendship helped develop who they were well and truly, and seeing this blossoming was honestly lovely and touching. In turn, David’s friendship, who he is, how he is, helps Kit realise that it’s okay not to be okay.

There was romance, but it wasn’t the driving factor in this story which is one of the reasons why I like this book a lot. Instead, it was the act of David and Kit becoming friends, developing their friendship, helping each other grow, Kit not essentially ‘getting over’ her Father’s death, but finding ways to get through it, with the help of David. 

David takes things literally, and I swear some of his internal monologues in those moments had be snorting out loud in the most unattractive of ways. 

" I let her 'no shit' pass without comment, even though she knows it’s an expression I do not like. It makes me think of constipation, which makes me think about grunting, my least favourite noise, after squawking and chewing. I also have a list of favourite noises. It has one item on it: Kit’s laugh.”

This for me was such a lovely, funny, and somewhat heartbreaking read but still one that I’m glad I read. Buxbaum has done it again, I’m excited to see what she comes up with next - though I do know for sure I’ll be picking it up as soon as it drops. In the meantime, I’m leaving you with some lovely quotes. Be sure to pick your copy up soon. SOON. SOONER! You can thank me later.

“They seem to understand that the world is a big, diverse place, and that different is not the same thing as scary. It’s amazing to me how many people mistake the two.” 


“The thing is, sometimes people grow from breaking.” 


“Every happy moment from now on will have the lingering, bitter, heartbreaking aftertaste of loss.” 

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