Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.
KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.
DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.
When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
WHAT TO SAY NEXT by Julie Buxbaum is a young adult contemporary novel about a girl who loses her father in a horrible accident and the only other kid in school she can stand to talk to now happens to be on the autism spectrum and can’t express his emotions well.
Kit is getting that bullshit sympathy from everyone including her best friends and she just can’t take it anymore. She’s hiding something and it’s eating her up inside. David sits alone during lunch, he walks around the halls with his headphones on, he steers clear from everyone because they just don’t understand him. When it comes to social engagements, David speaks with no filter. So when Kit sits next to him a lunch, he gave her everything she wanted; silence within the truth. Neither one of them expected a friendship to bloom from it.
WHAT TO SAY NEXT was a beautiful story with strong narrative voices. It’s not very often we get a story with a character with autism; it’s not an easy thing to take on as a writer. I feel like Buxbaum did an amazing job getting David’s personality and voice across to the reader. A ton of research must have gone in to the development of David’s character whether she has personal experience with autism or not. I really enjoyed reading his chapters. I just wanted to give him all the hugs and love!
The story was also extremely sweet too. Yes it blooms from a horrible accident that took Kit’s father’s life, but it was also about the development of a friendship. Kit didn’t care that everyone was giving her weird looks or talking about her hanging around David. She looked past all the negativity being thrown at her and genuinely wanted to be friends with him.
With the way some high school kids can be when it comes to someone they think is different or “weird” in their eyes, I thought it was nice to see a character as genuine as Kit.
I loved the characters, the friendship and hardship, and the story line. Buxbaum does it again with WHAT TO SAY NEXT. There is just something about her writing that I find so endearing. I look forward to see what she puts out next!
Jesse is a 20 something college student/server and dwells in Toronto, Canada. He enjoys reading about fantastical worlds, listening to KPOP, and being a couch potato.
What are your thoughts? Did you like reading this one? What’s one of your favorite contemporaries this year? Let me know in the comments below!