Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Amy has never let her cerebral palsy limit her.
From a young age, she’s been the star student at her school. She writes tear-jerking essays about her luck in school literary journals, and competes in (and wins) all academic challenges in front of her. She’s the perfect model for a student with CP…but she has no friends.
When a sudden unexpected conversation about her lack of friends happens between Amy and Matthew, Amy has an idea. She’ll have her parents replace her aids with students – seniors who, in return for some extra cash, will help her make friends around school. Despite her parents hesitations, Matthew is the first person on her peer team.
But what happens when Amy and the boy who’s been watching her since elementary school really start to spend time together? Will their single truthful conversation blossom into something larger?.
I really wanted to like this romance, and for a while, I did. Both Amy and Matthew are flawed, and have trouble connecting with other people. Their honesty towards each other helps foster a deep connection between the two. But as the story goes on, the romance breaks down.. and it’s hard for me to get behind it. I think Amy was selfish and cruel, and although I love that this story showed a three-dimensional person with a disability (not just a inspiration-porn), I had a hard time backing this romance.
Feminist Score: Good Effort
While much of her life is controlled by her parents, Amy wants her senior year to be different. She makes as many decisions as possible on her own, and gradually increases her control of her life circumstances. While I don’t agree with all of her decisions, I like that she had the opportunity to make them herself. AND I loved that she had so much agency in her decision to want to have sex!
Diversity Score: Good Effort
It was really wonderful to see a story written from a perspective of a brilliant girl with cerebral palsy who wanted to find friendship and romance. And Matthew’s own struggles, though more hidden than Amy’s are equally important. Both of these are valuable voices in young adult literature.
Awesome Factor: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort
I really, really wanted to like this book, and I just… didn’t love it. I think that while the initial story was interesting, and I really got into their initial romance. Once the characters got past high school, though, it just dragged. Amy becomes less likable over time, and even Matthew seems like someone who just wants to get hurt. And the surprises in the story came out of nowhere… and I don’t think they made sense to the plot.
Amy’s Mom – Even though she can be a pain sometimes, she really wants what’s best for her daughter. I love a mom who will fight for her kid at every angle.
My favorite line from this book is about Amy’s agency in situations. In this scene, two teachers are arguing about whether Amy having fun playing with some other kids on the playground… or if she thinks they’re making fun of them:
“‘I thought Amy liked it,’ one of them said. ‘It’s better than sitting by herself the whole recess, isn’t it?‘
‘No,‘ the other woman said. ‘They’re making fun of her and she knows it.‘
Matthew noticed that neither of them asked Amy…”
This line reminded me of a line from Gloria Stemen’s new book, My Life on The Road, where she talks about how she saved a turtle crossing the road, only to have her science teacher tell her that the turtle had spent a month getting to the road to lay its eggs. Her life lesson? Always ask the turtle.
Is this worth a book hangover?
I think Say What You WIll offers an interesting perspective , but I don’t think it’s quite hangover worthy.
Fun Author(s) Fact
Cammie McGovern’s last name may sound familiar… and it should. Cammie’s sister is Elizabeth McGovern, who plays American heiress and mother of three Cora Crawley on Downton Abbey. How COOL is that?
Read This Next
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstorm (our podcast and review here)! Seventeen year old Parker has created a set of guidelines – known as The Rules – to keep her life as a blind person in order. But what happens when an old romance (and a new fling) come into her life?
Post Author: Anisha
Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.