Published by Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: young adult, contemporary
Source: Book Tour, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met? Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel whose characters will come to feel like friends. Tell Me Three Things will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart. Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
The thing is, Jessie does need help. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
If you know me and read enough of my reviews (no one does), then you know I more often than not complain about the romance in books. Too much insta-love, no chemistry, too much romance and not enough story, etc. I never expected anything different from Tell Me Three Things. Imagine myself pleasantly surprised when I found out I actually liked the love interest and actually found the romance compelling and cute (okay, a little cheesy, but still super cute). I actually giggled–GIGGLED–like I was back in high school.
I’ve been told so many times to read this YA romance, read that YA romance–“it’s super adorable and you will squee!”–and I’ve always been let down. And I really had no expectations for this book. I’d never read any of this author’s books, and being that this was a young adult debut (and those often do not work for me), I was just hoping I liked it enough to review it positively for the blog tour.
But nope. I LOVED IT. Okay, so it wasn’t perfect for me–I loved the romance but didn’t really connect with the protagonist and her whole relationship issue with her father, and I found the premise a little cheesy, but you know what? The author pulled it off! The writing is SUPER strong when it comes to convincing you that all is well and real and totally happening. I got LOST in this book. The world dropped away (I’m going through some serious money issues right now and I forgot all about my problems while I was reading this book). It’s a total escape. It took me back to the fun parts of high school (okay, not the bullying–yes, fair warning, there is bullying in this book and it’s hard to read because something VERY similar happened to me). So yes, there is some mean girl shit, but I hate to tell you this, ladies, but women can be CRUEL to each other. And it was there for a valid reason.
So while we are sort of on the subject about characters, I need to talk about Jessie. First of all, I love the name. Hi, JESSIE!! I actually think most readers are going to like Jessie. And for those that don’t, think about why that is. I am making a preemptive strike of sorts here. Because I could have easily NOT liked Jessie. It’s hard to remember that I am reading a YA book sometimes. I’m thirty-five. And though I no longer act like a teenager (I am sure some would disagree), I have to remember that Jessie’s attitudes and reactions are very teenage appropriate. She doesn’t get along with her dad and she’s kind of selfish, thinking he is dealing with her mom’s death in a negative way, while dealing with it in a negative way herself. Teenagers sometimes forget to see themselves the way others do. I know I did. I was probably way worse than Jessie, tbh, and Jessie was dealing with a lot of emotional trauma. You always have to remember, that if you are not a teenager, these books are not written with you in mind. Sometimes teenage characters don’t act like teenagers, and when they do (as in the case of this book), people jump to criticize. Especially girls. Boys get off easy for some reason, but that is another topic entirely. Just keep an open mind is all I’m saying. Jessie is a realistic teen. She really is.
But that’s also why I really connected with the romance. It’s because it really felt young, innocent, a breath of fresh air. Here we have two teens who are going through a lot, and yet there is still high school and relationship drama, talk about prom, and Jessie is dealing with missing her friend back home who is going through boyfriend issues of her own. There is talk of sex and doing it or not doing it, and it’s handled in a really great way that teens will connect with, of that I am sure. There were times while I was reading when I wished I had had this book back when I was a teen. But there you go. That’s why YA is so damn important to the teenagers who read it. They need to see themselves in the books they are reading. It makes them feel not alone, that someone understands what being a teen is like.
I really, REALLY appreciated this book. And it’s the first book that made me really look at young adult books as an age category and make me realize, “Hey, this is not written for me, but I can still enjoy it, and that is okay.” It was a really important lesson for me to learn and take away. And I definitely think this is an incredibly important book for teens. It’s fun, entertaining, but it also covers some very relevant topics that matter. I HIGHLY recommend it, and I think if I had not been the age that I am, I would probably have given it 5 stars. But I am still thankful to have read it now.