Review of Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Say What You WillSay What You Will
By: Cammie McGovern
Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Hardcover

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
I’m not entirely sure how I felt about Say What You Will. It was a fast read, less about the pacing and more about McGovern’s writing. There were elements I really enjoyed and the comparison to Eleanor & Park isn’t totally off the mark. Something about the overall feel of the relationship had that aura. I think because of the awkward sweet moments.

I might not be the best audience for this novel just because I’m not overly enthusiastic about contemporary books. This one did stand out because of the diverse characters, which was my favorite aspect. Both Amy and Matthew suffered from their own insecurities and loneliness. I enjoyed watching them grow closer to one another and the inclusion of their text messages and emails broke up the writing some which I liked.

I’ve never known anyone personally that has had cerebral palsy so I thought the elements related to how that affected Amy’s life were intriguing. I always love when a book gives me insight to an experience or lifestyle I don’t know about. Amy’s character was endearing and I enjoyed her tenacity. Some of her decisions struck me as odd but I tried to understand where she was coming from and what experiences led to her choices.

Matthew was a little easier for me to relate to only because I’ve been much more aware of OCD and how it impacts someone’s daily routines and life. I thought the representation of his thought patterns were well done and very interesting to read. I felt that both characters brought out some really great things about the other. I did get frustrated at times by their lack of communication but this is incredibly true of real life (and just as frustrating there as well).

Though the two of them really had that spark some of the attitude Amy had towards Matthew grated me a bit. I disliked how she pushed him so hard about his OCD and anxiety. I understood why she was doing this (and with her mother as her guide I could understand her do it or else attitude) but some of it seemed less than sensitive to his issues, which were very real for him.

Final Thoughts:
Though the characters were very interesting to me some of the miscommunication and lack of trust was grating at times (though possibly realistic). Overall, they were well rounded, the subject matter kept my interest and the diversity of the characters really shone. I am happy that I read this and I’m sure it’ll stick with me but it isn’t something that I’d want to reread.


  1. says

    I didn’t have such a good time with this book. I was very angry with Amy until like the LAST chapter! And while she redeemed herself for me, eh, I spent too much of the book frustrated. 🙁 I just felt so bad for Matthew. I felt like Amy had to fix him for HER, so SHE could have a good boyfriend. Instead of helping him as a friend who wants the best for him. It kind of all made me sad. But that’s just me. 😉 great review! It’s very balanced!

    • says

      Yeah, I can completely see what you mean about Amy. I got some of that from her too. I do love that it highlighted diverse characters and the insight we saw about their lives but I was bothered by some aspects.

  2. says

    I’m still undecided about this book, cause you know I’m not exactly a fan of contemporary books, but it sounds like it’s different enough and well crafted, so I might just give it a try!
    Thanks for a great and honest review as always, Kristen!

    • says

      I was sent a copy unsolicited so I had to at least give it a try and found it fairly captivating. If you read it let me know what you think.

  3. says

    I like your review! I am going to give it a try. I got a copy from Harper too (from ALA) and so I was anxious to read it when I read what it was about. I want to talk to you about it when I’m done! 🙂

    Happy Reading!

  4. says

    Amazing review Kristen. <3 I'm sorry you didn't fully love this book. But glad you enjoyed it, still 😀 It do sound interesting. But I'm not that good with this genre either (A) So I will not be reading this book. But maybe one day. As the cover is really pretty 🙂

  5. says

    I love how this book focuses on diverse characters, but I’m not sure if it’s for me. Like you, I’m not usually drawn to contemporary reads, and this one may not be for me. But I’m glad you enjoyed it mostly, even if there were some issues. Great review!

    • says

      It is very rare that I am drawn to a contemporary book and then actually enjoy it. I guess I’m not the best judge of what makes a good one either!

  6. says

    I felt the same way when I finished SWYW, too: not really sure how to feel about it. It was real and felt genuine, but it was also so damn frustrating. Yes, that’s true of life, too, but it felt like any obstacle they COULD place in the path of their relationship, they DID place there. Grating is a good word for it.

    • says

      Yep, I’m glad you felt similar to me on it. I wouldn’t have normally read this one but it was sent to me for review. It’s the type of book I’m glad I read but nothing I’d need to read again.

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