By Julie Buxbaum
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Source: PublisherSometimes 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?
I've got to say, I was definitely surprised with how real this book was. I'm used to reading fluffy YA contemporaries, and What to Say Next was so much more than that. Dealing with how there is much more to people than you may realize, this novel took a hard look at what's it like to be different in a world that may not appreciate those differences.
When Kit's father dies, she doesn't know how to be normal at school anymore. So when lunch time comes around, she sits with someone who she feels will understand instead of pretending everything is okay when it's not. David Decker has never been normal and has never really understood how to socially fit in. Kit appreciates David's honesty and feels like he's the only one to truly understand what she's going through. David doesn't feel so lonely with Kit's company and finds himself more and more drawn to the beautiful girl who looks to have it all figured out but who is really just a little broken inside.
When I started this book, I wasn't so sure how much I would enjoy it. I normally don't like to read from a male character's perspective, but reading from David's point of view was so refreshing. David has a form of Autism, so he doesn't understand social cues and takes a lot of things literally. I loved his own form of humor and how protective his older sister was over him. She was one of my favorite characters and i loved any of the characters who accepted David and understood him. His relationship with Kit was so cute and I loved how unsure David was about, but how badly he wanted it to work out. We do get chapters that alternate between David and Kit, and I loved how well the author was able to capture their unique voices.
When I say that this book was more than a fluffy contemporary, I really mean that. There were moments when I was on the verge of tears and so mad at how petty and flat-out disgusting some characters were when it came to how they treated David. I hate reading about bullying, but it's a very present reality for a lot of teens, especially those who are different than what's seen as "normal." This book took a raw look at David's life and he was never coddled and bad things actually did happen to him. David was such a strong character, though, so I was rooting for him and felt strongly connected to him for the entire novel.
While I loved Julie Buxbaum's previous release, Tell Me Three Things, I was blown away by What to Say Next. With unique and utterly lovably characters, Julie takes a real look at high school and gives you flawed characters who deserve love.