Tell Me Three Things My Rating:
Published by: Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, HEA, Light Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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?
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?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum… well, I’m going to tell you three things.
First, I almost didn’t read the book because the anniversary of my dad’s death was just seventeen days ago, (at the time I’m writing this review) and I didn’t know if I was emotionally up to reading a story about a girl who’d lost her mother. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to review it objectively. I’m so, so glad I read the book. Even though Jessie is sixteen and I’m, well, not, I could still relate to her. Her character is real. She’s awkward and funny and sad and doesn’t know what she’s doing most of the time… and, guess what? I’m an adult and I still feel that way some days. And although I lost my dad in adulthood and not in my teen years like Jessie in the book—or like the author of Tell Me Three Things—like them, I still count: 4 years and 17 days. And I’ve missed him every single one of them
It had been just over two years (747 days, I count them)
Second, Tell Me Three Things is about Jessie, a sixteen-year-old who is dealing with the death of her mother. But it is SO much more than that. The book deals with love and friendship and awkward teen years and parents loving kids and kids loving parents and first loves, all those things and more are rolled up into one awesome story that made my stomach flutter and heartache, and, yes, eyes mist.
First line: Seven hundred and thirty-three days after my mom died, forty-five days after my dad eloped with a stranger he met on the Internet, thirty days after we then up and moved to California, and only seven days after starting as a junior at a brand-new school where I know approximately no one, an email arrives.
Third, I loved the book. It is probably one of my all time—ALL TIME—favorite young adult contemporary books. I recommend it for teens who have ever lost someone they loved. I recommend it for adults who have lost someone. Even if you haven’t had to bear that crushing pain yet, still read the book. There’s something between the pages for everyone. It will touch you, I promise you that.
Buxbaum’s writing drew me in and held me tight. I liked her voice and the way she used just enough humor to really represent the wacky insides of the human mind without it seeming contrived. I found myself giggling at times.
His hands are curled into fists, as if he is ready to throw punches right in the middle of IHOP, which is of course a dumb place to fight. There are children here, and polyester booths and smiley-face pancakes. Multiple kinds of syrup. Some of the drinks even come with maraschino cherries.
Yeah, because when you see two people fight in IHOP the first thing that pops into your head is the syrup flavors and the drinks with little red cherries…. See? Wacky brain. We all have them and the author did an awesome job bringing Jessie’s to life.
I appreciated the areas of the book that were lighter and a little comedic. It helped balance the whirlwind of Jessie’s life. The author could have taken the book to a really dark and heavy place. But she did a very nice job of balancing between the two. She gave the reader just enough insight into the hurt and sadness that Jessie was swimming through without drowning the reader in it. It speaks to her talent.
One of the worst parts about someone dying is thinking back to all those times you didn’t ask the right questions, all those times you stupidly assumed you’d have all the time in the world. And this too: how all that time feels like not much time at all. What’s left feels like something manufactured. The overexposed ghosts of memories.
I have to mention the romance/nonromance. I add “nonromance” because there really isn’t a “traditional” romance in the book, but it is oh-so-romantic! Confused? Yeah, I know. But trust me. It’s swoony and has all the feels you want in a good contemporary romance. The lead up to the big reveal of SN (Somebody Nobody⇐ read the book!) is exciting and I was sure I had it figured out. Until it happened (not telling) and then I was crestfallen, because I didn’t. Then I did. Then I didn’t. Then… so confusing. So awesome! The author did a nice job with the big reveal. I loved it.
But sometimes a kiss is not a kiss, is not a kiss. Sometimes it’s poetry.
Bottom line: This is one of those reviews where I could keep writing and writing and writing, telling you all the little parts I liked best, explaining each character trait I liked, what each character did that irritated me (Gem? I mean, really?). It. Was. Just. That. Good. So I’ll stop now before I really start rambling and just say this:
I give Tell Me Three Things my Highest Recommendation.
With a warning: prepare to be rendered useless for the day. You won’t want to put the book down once you start reading.