Book Review: SAY WHAT YOU WILL by Cammie McGovern

by Helen Thomas

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of young adult (YA) novels. Teens dealing with the dramas of everyday life (or sometimes trying to, you know, save the world) is totally my jam! Young adult novels allow many teens to be able to see and connect with characters who are dealing with family conflict just like they are; who are making and then bouncing back from bad decisions just like they are; and who are going crazy thinking about their crush–just like they are. For the reader who may not be a teen (ahem), adults enjoy finding YA novels that are well written, have something compelling to say, and provide a genuinely entertaining story. This was the case for me when I picked up Cammie McGovern’s novel, Say What You Will.

Say What You Will tells the story of Amy, a seventeen year old with cerebral palsy looking to make new friends during her senior year of high school. Because she is unable to talk, walk without a walker, or control entire parts of her body, Amy and her mother have always focused on honing her academic accomplishments instead of her social endeavors. Determined to change this in her final year in high school, Amy hires teen classmates instead of adult assistance to help her with some of her daily tasks like traveling between classes and navigating through doors. She meets Matthew, a boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who isn’t ready to admit to this fact quite yet. Amy and Matthew strike up a friendship and then eventually, something a little more, which of course changes and makes things a bit more complicated between them. With the addition of parental conflict, questionable decisions, and the fight for independence, Say What You Will keeps the reader engaged and eager to find out what will happen next between Amy and Matthew right up until the very last page.

Although there are a couple plot points and character decisions that may tempt readers to throw the book across the room and go “WHAT!!”, one aspect that does remain consistent is McGovern’s strong writing style. McGovern is able to really get inside the heads of these two teenagers and present their hopes, wants, thoughts, and needs in new and beautifully written ways. At times I found myself repeating a certain sentence or line of dialogue in my head, totally impressed. If you are looking for a fast read with a lot of depth, definitely consider reading Say What You Will.

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