Amy has cerebral palsy and can't talk. She uses a walker, slobbers, and doesn't always have control of her muscular functions. She's very intelligent and a good student, but has no friends since she can't communicate easily. She's decided that because she always has an adult helper with her, her peers feel like they can't approach her. So Amy convinces her mother that for her senior year she should hire other students to take turns being Amy's helpers.
Matthew is one of those helpers. Amy is happy about that, since Matthew has at least tried to talk to her in the past. Matthew is good at his job, but it soon becomes apparent that he is dealing with his own problems. He's has a pretty severe case of OCD. As they become closer he finally admits his problems to Amy.
Amy has a great attitude about her disability -- almost too good. The question occurs to the reader -- just who has it worse? Amy or Matthew? Their friendship slowly develops, and they are each wondering if it is possible to have more than a friendship. Each is feeling deeper feelings, but they won't admit anything to each other. As a matter of fact, they go through some pretty rough times.
McGovern has done a great job of getting us to understand, at least a little bit, the life of someone with Amy's disabilities. She almost makes it too easy on the reader, because we don't see much of Amy's life before--what she has gone through to get to this relatively well-adjusted point in her life.
The conversations are interesting. The relationship develops very slowly. The parents add their own pressures and problems to the story. Say What You Will is just a very well-rounded book with aspects that ring true to any teen, no matter what their issues. It's nice to read kind of a normal relationship, with normal ups and downs between two very unique individuals.
I think anyone who enjoys teen contemporaries with some meat to them will enjoy Say What You Will. It's very entertaining, but it's not fluff. I think there's a lot hear that could foster some good classroom or book club discussions.
I'm so glad Say What You Will has been nominated for next year's high school book award. I can't wait to recommend this to all my teens.
Published by HarperTeen, 2014
Copy obtained from the library
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