A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Say What You Will is an unusual high school romance that has themes of teen sex, and issues arising from it are prominent and frankly discussed, but nothing's directly described. The romance is between a girl with cerebral palsy who uses a speech-assistance device and a boy with OCD, and the novel tracks their relationship as it deepens over the course of their senior year. They're both admirable characters who overcome a great deal and who demonstrate a lot of maturity despite a few lapses in judgment. Strong language (including "s--t" and variations of "f--k") is infrequent, and there's no violence.
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What's the story?
Although they've known of each other since elementary school, Amy and Matthew don't really meet until their junior year in high school. They both have plenty of ways in which life is extra challenging: Amy needs to use a walker to get around and a computer device to speak; Matthew's so afraid of change he develops OCD. As they get to know each other, their friendship and their feelings for each other deepen. They can talk to each other and challenge each other in ways no one else can. So why can't they say the one thing the other needs to hear?
Is it any good?
Teens who loved The Fault in Our Stars will really enjoy SAY WHAT YOU WILL. It's a sweet, complicated, and compelling romance in which medical issues are prominent but aren't the defining characteristics of the two protagonists.
The writing in adult-novelist Cammie McGovern's YA debut doesn't quite sparkle like John Green's in TFIOS, but Amy and Matthew are utterly believable as characters. Their disabilities make them human, but it's their flaws that make them relatable. The deepening friendship between them takes unexpected twists and turns that will keep readers absorbed in and engaged with their story, and the ending should spark some interesting discussions about where their relationship is headed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it might be like if you couldn't speak. How would you interact with the world around you? Did reading Say What You Will change the way you think about people with disabilities?
Why are romances so popular? Do they help us understand how love works, or do they create unrealistic expectations? Would you like to have the kind of romance Amy and Matthew have?
Do you think Matthew's right, that there are many ways to be a freak? What makes someone a freak? What makes everyone a freak?
- Author: Cammie McGovern
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: June 3, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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For kids who love romance
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