A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that What to Say Next is a coming-of-age romance about two high school juniors who make an unexpected connection with unintended consequences. This is a very real, emotional, and romantic story, and there are some mature themes about fidelity and divorce, as well as bullying and social isolation. The main characters explore the challenges of grieving the death of a parent, not fitting in, and forgiving those who have hurt you. This book is a great choice for readers looking for diversity: One of the protagonists is biracial (Indian mother, white father), and the other protagonist is on the autism spectrum.
What's the story?
In WHAT TO SAY NEXT, Kit Lowell is an ambitious and popular high school junior who's still reeling from her father's recent tragic car accident. David Drucker, a boy in her class, is on the autism spectrum and struggles socially at school. They both feel things deeply and hold secrets close.
After her father dies, Kit feels as if her shallow friends don't understand her grief, so one day at lunch, she decides to sit at David's table. No one else at school has ever done such a thing, and Kit finds David's honesty refreshing.
Is it any good?
With witty dialogue and true-to-life scenes about a socially awkward boy who struggles to make friends and a popular girl who's grieving her dead father, this novel is so real and surprisingly funny. Told in alternate first-person voices by two teens, What to Say Next also tugs on your heart.
David Drucker's voice is especially visceral: "I've thought about how Kit's hand would feel in mine. I have concluded it would feel the exact opposite of that fold in my new jeans." This novel is gripping and well-developed, and quite a page turner.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how being on the autism spectrum is portrayed in What to Say Next. What does Kit mean when she says that David's honesty feels "good and refreshing" like "air, underwater"?
How do the family members in Kit and David's lives affect the way they approach their relationship? Does David's sister make him more open to "love" than Kit's newly widowed grieving mother?
Why do you think the author switches point of view between Kit and David? Do both narrators seem realistic to you? Did you like one better than the other? Why?
- Author: Julie Buxbaum
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: July 7, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 292
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
For kids who love romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.