Have you ever read a book that just immediately throws you back to being in middle school, reading in a stuffy library while trying to avoid going back to class? Well, I’m no longer in grade school (thank God) but it is fun to read a book that brings you back to that feeling of youth and what it was like to get into young adult literature in the first place. For me, it was authors like Sarah Dessen and Ann Brashares who got me into YA – they provided realistic representation of what it was like to be a teenager. While Julie Buxbaum wasn’t around when I was in middle school and high school, her books really remind me a lot of the books I loved at that time. What to Say Next is another phenomenal, realistic book about what it means to be in high school and seek acceptance while also trying to be being true to yourself.
Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.
Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.
KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.
DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.
When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
One thing that really stands out about this author is the quality of her writing. It’s descriptive, it’s world building, and honestly it’s really immersive. The other thing that sets her apart is her deep understanding of what it means to be a teenager. I have no idea how she can possibly write characters that are so relatable and deeply emotional, but she seems to do it in every book. Plot-wise there were some slow points particularly towards the middle but they didn’t last long, and on the whole the book was paced well. I love the fact that she used alternating points of view for this book. For the story, having multiple POVs really helped to develop the two lead characters and what they were going through and how their high school experiences differed.
I love an unlikely friendship. It’s one of my favorite things to see in literature and this book provided pretty much a perfect example and execution of one. Kit and David couldn’t be any more different on paper but once they start hanging out (through a series of unlikely circumstances) it becomes clear that they have more in common than they thought. All of the characters in this book were beautifully constructed – they all had some level of gritty realistic awkwardness and weren’t the typical polished perfect YA characters that I see over and over again.
I especially loved the fact that Kit and David grew together as their friendship developed; their whole friendship was greater than the sum of its parts. This kind of growth driven friendship really enriched the book as well as the two characters. Both Kit and David were going through struggles in their lives during this book, and both of their growth journeys were a joy to read. I also really appreciated how interesting the side characters were – they had their own trials and tribulations that they were going through and it really helped create an immersive setting and a more interesting story.
This was a sweet, if a little sad, story about the relationship between two misfits just trying to survive high school. It features phenomenal characters, strong friendships, and a whole lot of heart. I’d highly recommend this to anybody who was a fan of Ann Brashares’ or Sarah Dessen’s books growing up or to anybody looking for a very realistic take on what it’s like to be in high school. If you enjoy this book you should also check out Julie Buxbaum’s first book Tell Me Three Things. 5/5