Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Title: Say What You Will
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: June 3rd 2014
Length: 352 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, friendship, love, cerebral palsy, OCD
Source: Publisher

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.

Summary by Goodreads

Amy and Matthew both have their issues to deal with. Amy was born with cerebral palsy and Matthew's days are defined by his obsessive-compulsive disorder. They both tell you about their school and home lives, and their blossoming relationship from their own perspectives. These alternating chapters were definitely important to the story because what shapes their relationship and determines their actions and feelings is made up of very complex processes. You learn what it means to have OCD or cerebral palsy, the varying levels of them, how they can develop and ways of therapy.

Matthew comes into Amy's life in form of a student aide. I wasn't even familiar with that concept before I read SAY WHAT YOU WILL. I learned a lot reading Amy and Matthew's story and it sure helped me to think myself in the position of students who are affected by anything like our two main characters.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL kicked off with a very strong first half in which I was absolutely invested in Amy and Matthew's stories. Then something happened that threw me and the characters completely off course and after that I didn't really get into the original mood of the story again. I can't say anything about the events that led to a turn in the story and practically put a buffer on all my cheering for Amy and Matthew's love story. Not sure how other readers dealt with the last part of the book, but I'm sure not everyone sees what's happening as critical to the story as I do.

Cammie McGovern's first YA novel is set in high school. It's Amy and Matthew's senior year. And SAY WHAT YOU WILL is about all the usual stuff that is high school, but it's also about the things that are different for our two characters and why. There are even chapters on Amy and Matthew's lives after high school. In general I really like when the end of high school isn't the end of the story.

Amy and Matthew. Friendship and love. Their lives are made up of clear boundaries. Things people think they can't do or even things their illness keeps them from doing. And now when it comes to two of the most important emotional investments in life, the boundaries that have been ever-present in their lives before are blurring. Considering Cammie's writing technique and her easing the reader slowly, first into Amy and Matthew's friendship, and then into their possible love scenario, SAY WHAT YOU WILL is an amazing read.

3/5 *** SAY WHAT YOU WILL - Messy, enabling and very beautiful in parts!

This could be one of the most real and inspiring stories you are ever going to read. Amy and Matthew's love story is unpredictable in many ways, some you'll like, others may be somewhat infuriating. One thing is clear though, this story is one very challenged love story in many aspects. It will draw out your emotions and may as well steal your heart.

"Everything changed for Amy after that conversation with Matthew.
For most of her school life, Amy had felt a little like Rapunzel, locked in the tower her walker created when she walked down hallways. In eleven years, no one had ever called up to her window or asked for her hair. No one had ever tried to be her friend.
Impossible, you might say. Everyone has some friends.
No, Amy would have to say. Not everyone." p. 21

SAY WHAT YOU WILL you might enjoy WONDER by R.J. Palacio. You'll love this Middle Grade story about brave Auggie who was born with a facial deformity. FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John tells the story of deaf Piper who has to manage a rock band. And GIRL, STOLEN by April Henry is about the kidnapping of the blind Cheyenne. These books have protagonists who are challenged in some way, and I'm sure you'll enjoy all of them.

* How do you like the UK cover for Amy & Matthew's story?

* Want to meet Cammie McGovern? Check out her event schedule.

* For more information about Cammie and her books visit

* Thanks to Harper Collins International for the ARC of SAY WHAT YOU WILL!


  1. I'm really looking forward to this one! Unlike most people I didn't love Wonder (although I did like it!) so it'll be interesting to see how this one goes. Thanks for the great review! :)

  2. I felt the same way about the second half of the book. I didn't like the turn of events at all.