Book Review #141 – What to Say Next

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Rating: 3 Stars
Series: Standalone
Length: 306 Pages
Purchase: [Amazon] | [Barnes & Noble]

Synopsis:
Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

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?

This is one of those books where I am feeling very mixed with. It was such an easy story to read with the dual point of views. On the other hand, the story went into a direction I was not expecting. I just thought this was going to be a simple tale of an unexpected friendship that would give some lessons on life. However, it went a bit deeper than that.

The unexpected friendship is between Kit, one of the students at Mapleview High, and David, a student who has autism. David usually sits alone but one day Kit decides to sit with him due to personal reasons and life. Unexpectedly, their friendship takes off and they hang out and meet several times.

One thing I kept thinking about while reading What to Say Next was the Netflix original show Atypical and the similarity between David and Sam. As I was reading David’s chapters, I noticed how he also spoke similar to Sam and often acted the same way. They both also have their expertise in drawing. David is more science focused while Sam is more penguin and animal facts focused. They deal with similar things as well. I am not an expert on autism, but after seeing the show, it helped me see David’s perspective on things better. It gave an understanding to him.

As I already mentioned, I thought this would be a simple story of friendship. It would be a simple read for me when I would need a break from other stories that are heavier and more detail orientated. As the story progresses and things moved forward, that was when I realized that I was not read a simple story about friendship. I understood the route it took when it came to romance, but there is a part of me that hoped it never focused heavily on that. I get that David wanted to experience relationships and that it is a part of life, but I also had to wonder why this happened.

David was just a regular student, often left alone by his peers. When he started getting the attention from Kit, he was given a makeover and all of sudden deemed a “hottie” by everyone afterwards. He became an instant popular, attractive student every girl wanted to be with. Kit even became attracted to him as well. I really kept going back and forth on this because I understood what was going on, but at the same time, I had to keep questioning the purpose. Was the makeover to further Kit’s relationship with David? Why couldn’t the makeover just be a progress for David? Why couldn’t Kit just go “Wow, he’s looks good?” and just be that? As a good way to sum this part up, someone related it to “She’s All That.”

All in all, there isn’t really much to say about the novel. I don’t really have much anything against it either. I still go back and forth on the decision to have romance. I’m just neither against not for it. However, it still makes a good, thought-provoking book and rep for autism.

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