Cammie McGovern, Say What You Will, (2014), 343p
I tend to read a lot of books with hype. Reviewed in Entertainment Weekly, high praise from friends, award winning picks, Heather’s Picks from Indigo. This is both great, because I find out about these awesomeish books I likely wouldn’t read otherwise, and horrrrrriiiible, because of said hype.
This book fell into the latter category for a few reasons I will delve into.
Say What You Will focuses on Amy, a teenage girl with cerebral palsy who walks with difficulty and talks through a speech-enabled computer. Amy decides that for her senior year, she wants to make friends, and that she wants peer helpers instead of adult helpers as she has had in previous years. Amy’s peer helpers turn out to be a ragtag group – popular kids, outcasts, and kids with secrets. Matthew was handpicked by Amy to be her helper as he is the only kid who has ever been truly honest with her. As Matthew and Amy to spend more time with each other, Amy learns that Matthew has his own secrets and she decides to try to help him in the same way he’s helped her. Their friendship blossoms into something more than either one expected and they are left wondering what is next.
I have a few issues with this.
Primarily the expectations of Matthew. Matthew has OCD, an anxiety disorder. This is in no way his fault nor should it be treated that way. I feel like there is an expectation, especially by Amy, that he should just be able to shake it by doing her experiments. She is putting him in situations that HEIGHTEN his OCD and Amy seems upset when he fails. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I feel this plays into the stigma attached to mental health issues. People can’t change depression, anxiety, or OCD anymore than someone can change having diabetes, cancer, or asthma. Yes, there are treatments, but the person with the disorder needs to feel ready to work on it. To me, it just felt like a joke. Amy, of all people, should not expect someone to change something that is chemically or physically wrong with them.
I also hated Amy. Seriously. She was a horrible character. She was self centered and whiny. She was difficult to care about. Her actions and attitude made me angry. I also didn’t like her parents at all.
Needless to say, this book did NOT live up to the hype. I’ve heard it compared to John Green or Rainbow Rowell. In my opinion, it wasn’t even close.
You win some, you lose some.
Happy reading –