ARC Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Say What You WillGenres: Contemporary, Disability, Young Adult
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source:  ARC from Publisher
Check out on GOODREADS

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.

review

When I first heard about this book, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it but as the reviews started rolling in and many people I knew liked it, I became more and more interested, so that’s why when I finally picked Say What You Will up, I had soaring expectations. They were met at first, but that eventually changed and a twist near the end of the book was too much for me. It made this book take on a soap opera-like feel and there was just too much unnecessary drama.

Amy, at first, was a very fun character. In fact, the first thing I wrote down in my notes about this book was how I already liked her. She had an optimism surrounding her that was infectious and I liked that in spite of everything she could be cheerful.  EVEN when Matt told her that he saw right through her façade. And perhaps it was a façade, but she realized it and owned up to it and tried to make changes in her life to help change that. Her need to be a ‘normal’ teenager, however, got to me. I may sound harsh, but.. she wasn’t a normal teenager and she won’t ever be one.

Matt was absolutely adorable. He was shy and sensitive and so, so sweet. I loved his awkwardness and I loved seeing him finally admit to having a problem and then going so far as to actually get help. All the progress he made over the course of the book was admirable and I was so proud of him. The problem that I had with him was his insecurity. Sometimes, even though it added a dimension to his character, I just got fed up of him questioning everything. In fact, both of their insecurities led to so much drama that I really just couldn’t.

They said they were best friends, yet at times I wondered why they were so insecure about their relationship. I understand their insecurities, but they are best friends and sometimes, sometimes, communication works wonders. With that said, their relationship was definitely interesting. They contrasted each other in many ways and it was so fun to watch the two support one another and help each other morph into people who were more confident about themselves.

I also liked how although both had an air of maturity around them, they were still teenagers and prone to making many silly mistakes, because really, if you were perfect then you wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow as these two had.

Another thing I really liked was that while Amy’s disability faded into the background at times, it was never really forgotten about. The reader was always aware of it. The author normalized Amy, but at the same time, she never made it seem like Amy was normal because she wasn’t.

The secondary characters were an interesting set and perhaps not as well developed as I would have liked. Amy’s parents, though, played a major role. At first it seemed that her mother was annoying and would turn out to be a ‘bad parent’ (some of the things she did..) but the author never let that happen. Her mother could be too involved and overbearing but she was a mother who was just overprotective and with a child like Amy, you couldn’t really blame her.

With me saying all these positive things, you might wonder why I didn’t enjoy this book. I mean, the narration wasn’t an issue, even the dual POV worked out pretty well, I didn’t have many issues with the characters and her parents were good, too, so what was my problem? My problem was the drama. OH SO MUCH DRAMA.

Perhaps I sound insensitive but I am the kind of person who has never in her life enjoyed unnecessary drama. Drama is good, wonderful even if done well but in this book, it served no purpose or at least in my opinion it didn’t. I found myself getting annoyed that these two wouldn’t say the three words they both so desperately wanted to and they kept on messing up again and again. They’d make up and hide their feelings and then something else would happen that would tear them apart. The one ‘twist’ in the end was just so unbelievable for me and so dramatic that at that point I kind of just gave up. After a certain point, this book wasn’t fun and humorous; it was drama drama and DRAAAMAAA. It seemed like it was about all the obstacles the two would have to jump over to get to the HEA they both wanted.

In the end, I fell out of love with this book and was sorely disappointed when I didn’t get what I had hoped for. There will be people out there who will love this but if drama for no reason is not your thing, I’d say skip it or if you’re curious, beware for you have been warned!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Romance
Overall: 3.1
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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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    • Rashika says

      It’s that kind of book isn’t it? Plus no one really likes reading a meh book. meh books are the worst!

      Thanks Ali!!! :)

  1. says

    I already know this isn’t for me hence I took this off my tbr a few weeks ago. I’m glad you loved Matt as a character though yeah, insecurities, while so real, can be a real pain in the butt in books. COMMUICATION! Geez. How hard is it when you’re bffs? ;________; But they weren’t TFiOS mature though, yeah? Beacuse you know.. YOU KNOW >.< I wish the secondaries had been a little more developed for your taste. Also, excessive drama in these kind of books? Just, no. And as you said, if it makes sense, ok! But if not, just don't bring excessive drama just to create tension =/ I'm sorry you were disappointed, but I'm glad you liked some of it! Great honest review, lovely!
    Siiri recently posted…Mini-reviews: This Girl and Finding Cinderella by Colleen HooverMy Profile

    • Rashika says

      Pain in the butt.. you’re adorable, Siiri <3 I hate insecurities :P we all have enough of our own without having to deal with someone elses *sigh* The lack of communication also always tends to get me because like why cannot you just talk? SERIOUSLY!

      Excessive drama is my worst nightmare, especially when it serves no purpose other than just creating tension *sigh*

      Thanks, Siiri!!! :)

    • Rashika says

      Ha I don’t even consider romantic suspense contemporary. I just consider it more along the lines of mystery :D I love romantic suspense a lot :’) and chick lit :D They both manage to cheer me up like nothing else. This is exactly why I try to avoid some of the heavier contemporaries. I love my fluff and prefer seriousness in other genres…

  2. says

    Ugh, I really can’t stand drama. :/ This seems to have had some really interesting main characters, even if the secondary characters weren’t as impressive, so it’s a real shame that all the drama ruined this story, Rashika. It definitely isn’t for me, that’s for sure! Thanks for such an honest and helpful review, dear–beautifully written, as always! :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Favorite Books of 2014 (So Far)!My Profile

    • Rashika says

      Neither can I :( Drama is a huge pet peeve of mine. And it does have a tendency to ruin books that are otherwise fine. Ah well.

      Thank you so much, Keertana!! :)

  3. says

    Well when a blurb starts with comparing a book with some well-known ones it’s never a good sign. Anyhow unnecessary drama is my least favorite thing so I’ll skip this one. I’m glad you liked Matt and he does sound like a great character. So yeah, I’ll leave him to you ;) Great review, Rashika :)
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    • Rashika says

      I know right? It always bothers me when that happens. It’s one of the reasons why I was initially put off by this one .-. HA I like Matt but he doesn’t make me swoon. He’s like an adorable puppy (and not in the way a certain puppy was).

      Thanks, Tanja!! :)

  4. says

    I had the exact same issues as you! I loved the characters and their struggles (even when they were stupid and couldn’t just sit down to have ONE CLEAR CONVERSATION), but the constant problems thrown at them was just a bit too much in the end. I still enjoyed it, but it might have been a favorite if not for that final plot twist.
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    • Rashika says

      That final plot twist really was a deal breaker wasn’t it? It was so far fetched that I just couldn’t after that point. There is a certain limit to problems *sigh*

  5. says

    I SO AGREE! There have been nothing but glowing reviews for this one, but I too was put off by the underdevelopment of the characters and the unnecessary angst. Like you said, the romance was incredibly sweet, but in the end, it sounds like we both just couldn’t connect with it.

    Thanks for sharing, and, always, BRILLIANT review! <3
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    • Rashika says

      The angst was SOO unnecessary. They had a good thing going and could have talked instead of.. well being idiots! Seriously!

      Thanks, Zoe!!! :)

    • Rashika says

      If you ever end up reading it and get to the final ‘plot twist’ towards the end, I guarantee you’ll be banging your head on the wall because it’s so implausible. *sigh*

      Drama sucks, doesn’t it?

      Thanks, Pili!!! :)

  6. says

    I definitely understand that Rashika, I hate it when it gets dramatic like reality tv. I’ve read books that gave me the drama I crave, but when it goes overboard, every good thing gets annoying because of the major unnecessary drama in it. I hope the next read you’ll get will be better :) and dramatic in a good way

    • Rashika says

      I think everyone loves a nice dose of drama but when it goes overboard then it’s just not fun *sigh*

      Ha I think I want to stay away from drama for a while after reading this one :P

  7. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex says

    Uh oh, I get what you mean about unnecessary drama and that kind of worries me. I can be supremely irritated with contrived drama, so that’s good to know. Say What You Will has some lofty comparisons, and I don’t know if it’ll reach them. I’ll still give it a try though. Great review!
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    • Rashika says

      It does have some lofty comparisons and in all honesty, I can actually see some of the similarities but, I think it all depends on the reader. I know many people loved this as well so there is that. But if drama isn’t your thing, you’d want to stay away from this one.

      Thanks!! :)

    • Rashika says

      I hope you had a fabulous time in Jamaica! :)

      But yeah, a little vacay time has a way of making your TBR expand to a scary amount.. keep the happier reads in, no time for mediocre ones!

    • Rashika says

      HA I didn’t even take a break.. just kept on reminding myself that it would be over soon and I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

      I wouldn’t say good read but I’d say it wasn’t a nightmare… :)

  8. says

    I just generally shy away from anything being touted for John Green fans these days because those books always end up disappointing me and that’s why I didn’t even debtor for Say What You Will. Oh, it looks interesting and all, but the synopsis had me so meh, and I’ve seen some pretty bad reviews for this so I’m really not bothering.
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    • Rashika says

      Same here.. same here.. I ended up reading this because I got an ARC. I was reluctant at first too when I got it but by the time I got around to reading it, I was a lot more enthusiastic because I had seen a lot more positive reviews than negative reviews for it and I thought that I might just end up loving it. :/

  9. says

    Crap now you’ve got me reconsidering whether or not i should read this one. On one hand it feels like a me read but if it’s too soap operaish i wont be able to handle that. I hare it when a book makes that drama just a bit too much. Ruins things for me asa. Reader because i can’t believe it. *sigh*
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    • Rashika says

      Neither can I. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to stir away from drama. But perhaps you might like this better than I did considering so many other readers did :)

  10. says

    Drama is absolutely the worst. At least for me, I either get second hand embarrassment from the characters, or get angry at them for not solving the problem. And I hate getting caught up in drama, and reading about it is worse. So I probably won’t be picking up this book haha.
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    • Rashika says

      I get tons of second hand embarrassment which is why awkward moments are super awkward for me. SAME HERE. Drama is super scary for me.
      LIKE GO AWAY DRAMA. nobody wants you here :P
      (Unless it’s done well.. then it can be reallly fun)

  11. says

    That is such a shame that this one started off very strongly for you and then went downhill because of drama. I know how much you dislike drama. I typically don’t mind it if I’m looking for a dramatic read on purpose (which seems to happen often – what can I say? I seem to strive on drama sometimes! :P).
    Anyways, I was never really sure about this book and I still am not! Maybe I’ll borrow it from a library one of these days.
    Great review, Rashika!
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    • Rashika says

      You know what kind of drama I really love? One that ends in grovelling…. if you know what I mean. Nothing to life your mood like a good grovel. :’)

      Borrow it from a library, when you get to the final plot twist, I am going to rant to you about how silly and implausible it was :P

      Thanks Nick!!! :)

  12. says

    Compared to the other crappy books I’ve been reading this year (seriously, the amount of three-star reviews I’ve written in just two months is unbelievable), Say What You Will was one of the better reads, thank God! My expectations were super high as well because everyone seemed to love it, and luckily I wasn’t disappointed at all.

    I actually found the twist to be one of my favorite parts of the book, because I thought it was so honest of the author to do it and it was so unexpected. (I actually thought she’d contracted STDs, lol.) But I can see why some might think that it added too much drama — Amy trying to keep her secret a secret from Matthew and using Sarah and Chloe to send these cryptic messages honestly bugged me quite a bit, though I was able to overlook that for the most part. And that bit where Amy did it with Sanjay? God, I wanted to smack her. I’m sorry, but I really did.

    Yes to Amy’s disability constantly being around, though! I hate it when an author creates a character with some strange and possibly challenging quirk, only to forget about it completely when a love interest is introduced (most of the time). I feel like that sends across wrong messages to others, like you will suddenly turn perfect and normal just as long as a hot guy comes by. No, Matthew noticed disgusting things about Amy — the author was so blunt about it — but he still accepted her for who she was. I was just constantly amazed by that.

    Great review, Rashika! Sorry you didn’t enjoy this as much as you were hoping to, but I’m glad there were still some bits you liked. :)
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    • Rashika says

      LOL.. STDs would definitely have been interesting. I hated that too and it bothered me so much! OMG the Sanjay thing just made me want to bang my head on a wall. HIM of all people? HIM? SERIOUSLY? You should have seen the expression on my face :P

      Same here. I’ve noticed that happens very often and I was glad that her disability was constantly present but then so was Matt’s.. neither of their disabilities disappeared into the background once they met each other and that’s such a refreshing thing to see! :)

      Thanks Megan!!! :)

  13. says

    Great review, hun! I felt about the same with this one. I really enjoyed Amy’s POV and how she was all about living, and not letting her disability define her. You’re right she’ll never be normal, I think she just had high determination and refused to believe she couldn’t do what anyone else could. I wasn’t such a fan of Matt, though. At the beginning he was intriguing but he ended up grating on my nerves. He was just kind of a jerk. And OMG Amy’s mother! I did not like that woman!! I get that you want to save your child from humiliation and stuff but man believe in your daughter a little, eh!? And ditto on the drama. The “twist” was interesting in a way and touched on a good topic, but I also found it a bit much, even some of it unrealistic. Anyways, yay for book twins!!
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    • Rashika says

      That’s what really rubbed me, SHE CANNOT do what everyone else does. Hell, I am a normal kid (am I?) and I cannot do what everyone else does ..

      He was kind of a jerk :P but I totally understood his jerky reaction see that well SANJAY. I never liked that slimy bastard :P

      Oh yeah, I definitely did not like Amy’s mother at times but that moment near the end help redeemed her.. otherwise I would have tots been like. BAD PARENT SYNDROME. WHAT IS UP WITH THIS?

      It touched on a fantastic topic I just wished it hadn’t been so unbelievable you know? .-. I though the twist would have been a wonderful one if it had been for a better reason and the whole thing surrounding it had been more believable.

      THANKS GEE!

      (BOOK TWINISES *high fives you*)

  14. says

    Drama for no good reason is definitely NOT my thing. Heck, I’m not really crazy about justified drama. And I think you were much more gracious in your rating than I would have been. I hate bait and switches (that’s what I call it when a book starts out great and then turns to crap). And the insecurity thing would drive me bonkers too. A little bit can be endearing, or it can be used as a place-marker for character development, but insecurity that leads to drama . . . I’m making the face. The scrunch face. Nostrils are flaring too. Do not like, not even a little bit. Fab review though ;) Will not be touching this one with a 12 ft. pole.
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    • Rashika says

      oh common, don’t you love a good grovel??? :P that’s the kind of drama I like :D It makes things interesting but then there is the kind of drama in this book and that just makes me want to bang my head on a wall.

      A little is always endearing but if it leads to drama.. the scrunch face :P my face might have gotten permanent scrunch lines from all the scrunching :P

      Thanks JESS!!! :D

  15. says

    So much drama? :( No thank you, lol. But aw. Matt sounds adorable :D Amazing review sweetie. <3 I don't think this would be a book for me at all :\ But maybe one day, hih ;p Thank you for sharing :)
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    • Rashika says

      Matt IS adorable and I am sure you’ll like him, Carina! :)

      Drama is not my thing which is why I was so upset by some of the turns this book too but I don’t think other readers will mind as much. :P

      Thanks Carina!!! :)

  16. says

    I don’t know. I liked it. It’s different from any book that I’ve ever read and I liked it. It’s not my favorite book in the world, but I think that it really worked for me. I do get what you mean about the soap opera-ishness of it all, but I don’t think it was completely over the top. I definitely didn’t expect the direction it took the story.
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    • Rashika says

      Neither did I! That was definitely a surprise!

      I am definitely glad it worked out for you! :) I did like the story overall I just think that drama kind of brought it down for me as a reader. I am a lot more sensitive to drama than some readers .-.

    • Rashika says

      I think you would! :D Drama is not always a problem for most people and I know several people enjoyed it so you probably would! :D

      Thanks Jeann!! :)