By Cammie McGovern
Available now from HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Amy has severe cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair and a voice box. She's a bright girl and determined to look on the bright side. But her classmate Matthew points out to her that she can't be that happy; after all, her only friends are adults. So, Amy decides to request teenage helpers for her senior year of high school.
And she requests for Matthew to be one.
I loved the blooming friendship and romance between Amy and Matthew. They're really portrayed as issues. Amy has the drive that Matthew lacks, and she's more open about her issues since she can't hide them. Matthew, meanwhile, is trying to deny his OCD. I also like that Cammie McGovern went outside the box. Not only is Amy not a paint-by-the-numbers heroine, the plot goes unexpected places. It doesn't end with senior year and the prom, for instance.
I liked that SAY WHAT YOU WILL was realistic about Amy and Matthew's limitations, the way society views someone as physically crippled as Amy and the way mental health issues are stigmatized. I liked that both of them had difficult journeys, but ones they could help each other with - if they approached each other with respect and understanding. It's a hard road for two teenagers.
The charm of SAY WHAT YOU WILL started to run out for me about three quarters of the way through the book. The ups and downs just went on for too long for me, like a soap opera. I think I might've enjoyed it more if I read it slower, interspersed with other books. At the same time, I still liked it a lot. McGovern's prose is unobtrusive and she imbues both of her protagonists with charming voices. I liked how organically the relationship grew, and that SAY WHAT YOU WILL explored what happened after high school, when the relationship is tested by long distance and other factors.
SAY WHAT YOU WILL is McGovern's first YA novel and bodes well for her future forays in the genre.