What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I just loved Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum so as soon as I knew she was writing another YA novel, I pre-ordered it and dove right in. I read this wonderful, serious, funny, definitely sad book in one day, but the SAD was integral to the story of Kit Lowell sitting at David Drucker's lunch table. Kit is popular but grieving the death of her dad and really can't deal right now with her friends' company, sympathy, etc.(not that she tells them this). Kit sitting with David (OMG, their growing friendship was palpable, sweet, engrossing) changes his (and Kit's) life. David and Kit were such authentic characters; you rooted for them, wanted to punch them (you will see), and you hoped & prayed their friendship was string enough to survive reality that is HS life. The book is told in alternating chapters by Kit & David and really spoke to me about them as real teens. David was such a great character, being on the spectrum of autism (which he doesn't really think he has) and totally supported by his family was so nice to see in YA literature. But I really liked the way Buxbaum let us see David's thoughts (and desires) about Kit. She becomes the reason he really tries to be more normal- his sister is away at college & they do a lot of FaceTime- Miney helps & supports David. Due to his sister's deep abiding love- David keeps a notebook on his thoughts of his classmates, who to talk to, and who to stay away from. He has been bullied by Justin & Gabriel since middle school and this is detailed in his notebook too. But as he comes to wonder & rely on seeing and talking to Kit everyday at lunch (his sister tells him to text Kit too) you see his awkwardness but since he is so intelligent and his sister has tried to drum normalness into him, David becomes so much more to Kit and to the reader. You feel his loneliness, his yearning, his intelligence as he begins to look Kit (and others) in the eye, uses his headphones less, look around as he walks in the school halls. I really enjoyed the new David with clothes and haircut (just as everyone else does, but Kit already saw that David) and I loved David's honesty when he told Kit she was beautiful and in his thoughts how he loved her just as she was (with or without makeup, nice clothes, smiling or crying) I just could not put this book down, Kit and David are two protagonists I really enjoyed getting to know, teens will like the HS drama, develop empathy for those who are different and despise the horrible bullying for teens like David.
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