John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
There are so many things I’d like to say about this book but don’t know how to, so I guess what I’ll do is come right out and say this:
There is nothing wrong with Say What You Will. The writing, the plot, the characters, they’re all so good, so right.
While Say What You Will falls in with the group of novels comparable to Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars for a plethora of reasons, I like to think of it more as the teenage literary version of When Harry Met Sally under some pretty unlikely circumstances.
The normalcy between these two teens despite their disorders was so strangely eye opening and had me turning my head at all these different, beautiful things I hadn’t thought of before. Even more so, the acceptance was something so odd and tragically arresting. It was in general such a selfless friendship that it was almost unbelievable – but it just was. Despite the bickers, quarrels and lack of declarations of love, you just knew as a reader that this was it for these two, no way around it. They say there is someone for everyone, and this book just goes to show if you step into the right store you just might find what you’re looking for. (No, that’s not it… is it?)
Warning, though: you are going to cry. Not just shed a tear or get misty-eyed or anything silly like that. No, no, no. You are going to ugly cry. Whether you’re alone in your room or in the middle of the subway, prepare for the tears, because they’re coming, and they’ll get you at the most inconvenient of times. They won’t always be sad tears and they won’t always be happy, but this novel isn’t just about love, it’s about life and the hardships some people have to face due to things that are out of their control, and it’s so nerve-wracking.
Admittedly, I am a die hard fan of E&P and loved TFiOS with as much of my heart as I possibly could, but Say What You Will gave me so much more than those two novels ever did, and that is the essence of hope. I’ve gotten so tired of inconclusive love and death and the overall idea of morbidity and the sardonic real world we live in from novels. I read so that these books can show me something we don’t see but hear of often: optimism, possibilities, hope. Really, in SWYW readers need that sense of possibility, only because the situation is so harrowing. I nearly didn’t believe it when things didn’t outright end horribly for these two, only because I’m so used to that sort of thing happening, that I spent the rest of the night bawling out of happiness and sadness and anger at the world.
So, I guess the best way to put it is that Say What You Will shows you the truth of modern day society while proving that there’s still good in this world, if you look to find it in just the right places.