By: Melanie | May 23, 2014 | (24) Comments

Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovernSay What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 352
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.

Say What You Will is hands down, the most surprising novel I’ve read so far in the year of 2014. Everything about it–the characters, the twists, the romance, the plot; all of it was remarkable. I do have my qualms, but this is going down as one of the most incredibly unique novels I’ve read. EVER.

Cammie McGovern’s novel is surprising and unique for one main reason: the characters. Amy was born with cerebral palsy and cannot walk without the aid of her walker or talk without a screen that speaks what she types for her. Her overbearing mother decides that for Amy’s senior year that she should have peer helpers to look after her throughout the day and make friends. Matthew is one of those peer helpers. Matthew has problems of his own as well; he’s got obsessive compulsive disorder and is constantly wanting to wash his hands and make sure no one is hurt. McGovern characterizes these characters brilliantly. Rarely have I encountered novels where such illnesses are written realistically and so unflinchingly. It has definitely left it’s mark in that sense.

My biggest gripe with Say What You Will is how it was written. The writing was beautiful and emotional. I could see that. But I couldn’t really feel it. I wanted to laugh and cry and scream and curl up into a ball of anxiety for the protagonists. However, I just didn’t really feel it. Say What You Will is written in 3rd person and that’s what makes it so hard to connect to the characters. I found it to be a huge difficulty to get under the characters’ skin despite them being so well written and authentic. Additionally,  I personally would have liked more on the other characters in the story. I felt like this book was a little too narrow with the characters. I wanted to know more about Matthew’s family as well as Sanjay, Sarah and Chloe.

The second half is definitely more eventful than the first. Both have their quirks; the first half is definitely more about setting up these two protags and watching them fall for each other whereas the second half was packed with shocking new truths and twists. I definitely got some odd looks thrown my way on the train when I was reading this. I can most certainly see people shedding a few tears in this novel. It does have emotional potential, but I guess I was the minority for that aspect.

I guess I do agree with the pitch that was given to this novel. I don’t like it when popular books are included in pitches because like…seriously? But this did feel like a dash of The Fault in Our Stars plus a bit of Eleanor & Park. This being said, they are not all that similar in the sense of characters or plot line but I can see where the pitch was coming from.

In all, I really liked Say What You Will. It delivers a strong message and I know this book won’t be leaving my mind any time soon.

~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me this copy!~

3.5 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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24 Responses to Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

  1. Zoe N. says:

    Yes! I agree 100% Mel! This was fabulous – the characters were so well-developed, the romance was wonderful, and the conditions were portrayed accurately – but it would have been SO much better in 1st person. I’m fine with 3rd person in fantasy & sci-fi, but in contemporaries, it’s rare for 3rd person to work for me because they’re usually much more character-driven.

    Thanks so much for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…Torn AwayMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      i guess the problem with 1st person narration when a book is written in two perspectives is that we would get confused–however I have read a lot of 3rd narration novels that have made me feel more emotionally attached

  2. I am so, so, SO excited to read this. These disabilities are not very common in YA, so I can’t wait to read about them! I’m a bit concerned with the “beautiful” writing, though. These types of writing tend to bore me. 🙁 Lovely review, girl! <3
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…If These Fictional Guys Were Real…My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      i don’t mean that type of beautiful writing. I just mean that this author does really well at writing an engaging story from the get go and the story was beautiful in general ;p

  3. Tanja says:

    This is the first time I hear of this book and it sounds so god!!! I’m so sorry it’s written in 3rd POV as it always bothers me too. Still it’s a good thing that these disabilities are featured as they are not that popular in YA. Great review, Mel 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…ARC Review – The Lost by Sarah Beth DurstMy Profile

  4. Yay! I want to read this one too. Great review Melanie!
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…Review: The One by Kiera CassMy Profile

  5. I was sent 2 arc’s and one finished copy of this book…but I just don’t think these sad emotional stories are my type of book. I found new homes for the arc’s but kept one copy just in case I’ll change my mind about reading it.
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Audiobook Review: Of Neptune by Anna Banks!My Profile

  6. Rashika says:

    This is the third time I’ve seen someone mention the tidbit about the 3rd person voice so I am really worried now.

    I figure now that I’ve been warned, it’ll bother me less but we’ll see .-.

    Fabulous review, Mel!!! 😀

  7. It drives me nuts too when they compare books to popular books and they aren’t at all similar. I don’t fall for that. Ugh, totally agree writing it in third person kind of takes a bit of something away from it.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Friday Forecast May 25th-31stMy Profile

  8. Amir says:

    I agree, I roll my eyes when books name drop a popular book or series in it’s blurb. I guess some people do look for “the next” type book of they love a favorite but I’m.not one of them. the premise for this book is definitely different, I can’t even wrap around how these two character’s relationship, as well as romance will develop. It’s too bad the book’s perspective kept you from totally connecting with it though. There are just some stories that are better to be written in first person and I totally get why this one is. Great review, Mel 🙂
    Amir recently posted…Review: Clipped Wings by Helena HuntingMy Profile

  9. 1) I love the text-oriented title. Those are cool.
    2) I love the diversity of the characters.
    3) Why would they compare it to both John Green AND Rainbow Rowell? That’s just asking for trouble.

    I can see how third person would make it harder to connect. But this sounds like a really good read.
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Skyscraper Syndrome: When Books DisappointMy Profile

  10. Lexa Cain says:

    This one sounds wonderful. Unlike you, I’m a big fan of third person. It gives a more detailed and balanced view of the world the characters live in, since it’s not so me-me-me-centric. I hope I get a chance to read this one. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to write from the perspective of a character with cerebral palsy. It’s mind-boggling.
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate & Ta-Da!My Profile

  11. I have this! I won it, and I neeeed to read it. Although the real reason I haven’t is because of the “like John Green” tag line. >.< That always scares me. BUT I'm insanely excited for the characters! They sound really diverse, too, and cerebral palsy isn't something I've read a lot about. I'm planning to read it once I'm finished More Than This. x)
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  12. I’m glad to hear you liked this because it is one I hope to read soon. I keep reading that the 3rd person point of view is limiting though…it seems like an odd choice for a book like this.
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  13. Jaz says:

    I’ve heard glowing reviews about this but EVERYBODY has mentioned how they have issues with it being in 3rd person.
    That being said I want to see how the cerebral palsy is written – both in primary school and high school I knew people with cerebral palsy so I saw first hand the difficulties they faced with motor control and speaking even though they understood everything.
    I’m definitely reading this!
    Jaz recently posted…Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesMy Profile

  14. I was sold on this book the moment I saw TFiOS MEETS Eleanor & Park. And when you said it was unique, well, I just had to have it! I have no problem with third persons POV, so I think I’ll be enjoying this a lot. Beautiful review, Mellanie!
    Maddy@Symphony of Words recently posted…Blog Tour: Taking Angels by C.S. Yelle Excerpt + GiveawayMy Profile

  15. Emily says:

    I received this one for review (and I was absolutely STOKED!) and I was reading it, and I found myself to have fallen in love with it too!! 😀 Well, with the third-person narrative it’s definitely very easy to feel detached, but I guess it all depends on the author’s skill too 🙂 I started, but haven’t gotten far because I have so much to catch up on! D: But it’s sad to hear that maybe some of the characters won’t have extensive screen time, ya know? 🙁 But oh well, it does sound pretty decent! ;D
    Fantastic review, Mel!! 😀 <33
    Emily recently posted…How To Meet Boys by Catherine ClarkMy Profile

  16. One of those reads that I’m looking forward to! Despite the flaws you stated here, I’m still quite excited to read it. People with disabilities are well underrepresented, and we need more of them in the YA market, not only to diversify but also to spread awareness. I do wish this book didn’t try to pitch it with other books in hopes of attracting readers… I want it to stand on its merit, but I guess that’s how marketing works.
    Faye D’Social Potato (@kawaiileena) recently posted…Random Things in Motion #1: My Book IdeasMy Profile

  17. You know a book was really good if it sticks with you, right? I was going to pass on this but you’ve definitely made me more interested now!
    The Bookish Manicurist recently posted…The Haunting of Lily Frost by Nova WeetmanMy Profile

  18. Wow, this sounds really great like it made a big impact! I absolutely love the sound of it after your review Mel! I am looking forward to this and will definitely keep some tissues handy.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman Review: Hitler up close and personalMy Profile

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