By Ivy Rodriguez
What to Say Next, at its core, is a story of friendship between two outsiders.
The follow-up to the best-selling young adult novel Tell Me Three Things, Buxbaum introduces us to new characters: David and Kit.
David is the school’s resident ‘weird kid.’ From the start, he informs the readers that he is “different” then revealing that he has a borderline case of Asperger’s Syndrome. Kit, on the other hand, belongs in a clique and is gunning for school newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief position – until she became the girl whose Dad died.
The novel is narrated by both of the characters in the first person point of view which gives the readers more than a peek into the other’s mind. Buxbaum is great at creating a distinct voice between the two characters – David, for one, reminded me of Graeme Simsion’s protagonist, Don Tillman, from the novel, The Rosie Project. The language is very specific, quite pedantic (there’s a full chapter with just David reciting the Pi in it) yet an entertaining and refreshing voice that is not usually seen on young adult novels. Kit is more subdued at the beginning – reflective, somber, confused – a typical teenager who suddenly bursts after keeping it calm and cool towards the end.
Given these circumstances, the two share a table and a comfortable silence which then grew into a remarkable friendship.
This book also tackles a couple of subjects – fitting in, not just in a high school but in a much larger scale (Kit is half-Indian, half-American), coping with loss and bullying. Mostly handled well – especially the bullying part, which I thought was the highlight of this book.
However, if you are expecting romance from this read then that’s where I felt like this one fell short. With just a couple of pages in, the chemistry between the two characters seemed off, and while I rooted for them to be the best of friends, I wouldn’t exactly think that going romantic would be the best course. There were a couple of cute moments in there but it was barely enough to make one squee.
What to Say Next triumphs in endearing us to its main characters, giving its reader a powerful message of accepting one’s self, despite flaws and mistakes.
Ivy Rodriguez likes to read Young Adult and Contemporary Romance novels. She works for the music industry by day and spends most of her nights with fictional friends.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not expressly reflect the views of Fully Booked. That said, we love our authors anyway.]