Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

This novel was a very pleasant surprise. A co-worker recommended it me, thinking I would like it, and initially I was like 'oh yeah, sounds okay'. But after reading, I can see why she recommended it, and now I want to recommend it to all my friend who might like it, too.
What To Say Next is a duel POV novel following Kit, who's father died a month ago in a car accident, and David, who's still figuring high school out. Kit wants to get away from her friend's pitying stares and decides to sit at the table David sits at by himself everyday at lunch. It doesn't seem too complicated, accept there's a lot more going on in Kit's life then anyone realizes, and David was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a kid (though it's not a current term for the way his brain works, Buxbaum works in that now David would be placed on the Austim Spectrum). So it's a lot more than you think it is.
Kit is also Indian-American, (like David points in the novel, India-Indian, not Indigenous) which puts some awesome diversity into the mix.
After reading about Tiberius in Cassandra Clare's The Dark Artifices series, I loved reading from the POV of another character on the Autism Spectrum. It's not something we've really talked about in teen novels until very recently, and it's interesting to see the perspective of the world from someone like David and Ty.
Despite the heavy stuff going on, it's actually a pretty light-hearted novel. Yes, there were a few tears at the climax of the plot, but other than that, it touches on serious topics in an incredibly easy way to digest.
I respect this novel a lot. The writing was very well done, and though I get very weary about duel (or multiple) POVs in novels, this felt very smooth. It wasn't choppy between the POVs, the voices were distinct, and you weren't left waiting between the POVs if something dramatic was revealed. There were a few cliche moments, though I'm still waiting to find a teen novel that doesn't. But I really enjoyed the ending. The characters are incredibly well-rounded, as well.
Something else I really appreciated about this novel was the family dynamics. A lot of teen books try to avoid parents and families as much as possible because it takes away from the teen-adventuring. The parents that do show up tend to be incredibly relaxed and borderline non-existent. But in this novel, the parents genuinely care and support their kids, and there's an actual parent-child relationship with both authority and friendship. David's parents continually support him while he tries to figure out how to socialize and high school. His sister got on my nerves a little bit, but she obviously supports him whole-heartedly. Kit's mom also supports her unconditionally, and they have a really open relationship, and are pretty open about their feelings surrounding her Dad's death.
All in all, I'm giving this one a 4.5 stars. I don't think it'll necessarily be an all-time favourite, but I'm going to be recommending this to as many people as I can.

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