Books by Barb and Becky - 'Say What You Will'

Becky Standal

Hi there! It's Becky, with another review for Books with Becky and Barb. I want to tell you about one of the best books I read this summer, "Say What You Will," by Cammie McGovern.

For her senior year in high school, Amy has decided to make a change. She convinces her protective mother that she needs practice becoming more independent, and that she can do without the adult aides who have always helped her at school. Because of cerebral palsy, Amy cannot walk without her walker or speak without her voice synthesizer. She is brilliant, but she has never had friends her own age. When Matthew, a classmate, challenges her claim to happiness toward the end of their junior year, she decides. No more adults. She wants her mother to hire peer helpers instead: classmates to help her from class to class, to sit with her at lunch. And she wants one of those peer helpers to be Matthew.

Matthew feels singularly unqualified to help Amy. But at her insistence, he does it anyway. It quickly becomes clear that Matthew suffers from near-crippling OCD, and that he's just as isolated from his peers as Amy. As they work together through their senior year, Amy and Matthew become first friends and then something deeper, something unsaid.

"Say What You Will" takes us through Amy and Matthew's senior year, through prom and graduation, to college and work and crisis. To me, the story felt like it started as a teen novel and ended as an adult novel, with a transition that is natural because the characters are growing up. I love these characters and they way the contrast of their disabilities - one physical and one mental - and their never-easy relationship demonstrates the difficult balance between wanting to help and accepting those you love. I highly recommend it to teen and adult readers who have a tolerance for drama, a squishy heart for rocky love stories, and a love of powerful, perfect endings.