PH Blog Tour: What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (Review+Giveaway)

Hello and thanks for joining me on my stop for the PH Blog Tour of WHAT TO SAY NEXT by Julie Buxbaum, hosted by Fay of Bibliophile Soprano. Click the banner above to follow the tour along. We have an ongoing giveaway for three finished copies of the book, open to PH readers, so make sure to keep an eye for that, too.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

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?

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date:  July 11th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Book Depository
My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts:
I whizzed through the pages of “What to Say Next” and that’s a rare feat for a slow and easily distracted reader as myself. There is only one explanation for this: Julie Buxbaum has done it again. And by “it”, what I mean is that this author has conjured and charmed a yet another great contemporary YA worthy of praises and accolades as her debut, “Tell Me Three Things”. (Maybe Julie is a witch, a good witch.) Not only has she shown her mastery of exploring the intricate dimensions of grief from losing a parent at a young age, she also has a way of creating unforgettable characters.

David is a beautiful boy with a beautiful mind. Although he is diagnosed with high-functioning autism, he resists to confine himself inside the lines drawn by any label. He gets confused with the “normal” world and gets into trouble in lots of situations though, so he keeps this special social navigation notebook with him at all times. It has an index of names of his classmates with extensive descriptions (because he easily forgets faces), a Trust and Don’t Trust List, a Rules section (Do not engage with people on the DNT list.), a list of idioms, etc. He is funny in a pure and candid way but people do not understand him so he always sits alone at lunch.

That’s until Kit decided to ditch her usual lunch table crowd and sit with David. On that fateful day, Kit cannot be bothered to be her old cheerful self. Her world just imploded with the sudden death of his dad from a car accident. People have been tiptoeing on eggshells around her saying incomprehensible death babble like “everything happens for a reason”. She figured that David does not talk much and is the best company for sitting tight and silent. But David talked and said the exact same thing that she is thinking: her dad’s death is really unfair.

So one day of sitting together at lunch became two, then three, and more. Soon they became each other’s sort of confidant. A wonderful friendship blossomed between them.

And the readers are treated with the pleasures of an adorably awkward connection.

But David has to deal with some people in the Do Not Trust List, a.k.a. the meanie bullies.

And Kit has some unresolved issues with her mom. Issues that came crashing after her dad’s car accident.

Will Kit stand by David’s side against the DNT List people even if some of them were in her social circle? Can David help Kit get over her angsty grief or will he mess things up because of his lacking social skills?

These questions are answered best if you will read them yourself. Let me give you a hint, though. I have this face upon reaching the last page of the book.

I had fun meeting both David and Kit and I cannot wait to get the chance to re-read the book again. I guess the core magic of Julie Buxbaum’s books is that they compel you to reading them repeatedly with her effortlessly lovable characters. They have this light and easy air for such characters dealing with deep and heavy stuff, but no, these characters are not cartoonish. What these characters have is balance and believability. They felt real and they invoked feelings from me. In “What to Say Next” David and Kit made me feel that although friendships and relationships are hard, they are not that complicated. Conversations can be easy. You don’t have to impress and overthink what to say next. Just listen to what the other person is saying and be your honest self with your replies.

Diversity Watch:
Kit’s dad is white and her mom is first generation Indian American. Her grandparents moved back in Delhi and they visit them every other year. Though American-born, Kit’s mom raised her so she will not forget her Indian roots.

David’s guitar tutor, Trey, is a quarter Chinese, a quarter Indian, and half African American.

Kit’s mom, who is an advertising executive, spearheaded a campaign ad featuring biracial gay dads.

One girl from the Academic League decathlon team, Chloe, whom David described as may be the second prettiest girl in school is in wheelchair.

Another student from the decathlon team is Asian.
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