Author: Julie Buxbaum.
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?
I don’t feel strongly about What To Say Next either way, and I’m not quite sure why.
I mean, David is a wonderful character, two or three times as interesting as your average contemporary protagonist. I love the relationship between him and his sister; sibling relationships in YA seem strangely rare. Kit seemed well-portrayed, not really a ‘reforming mean girl’ (thank goodness!) but certainly one of the popular kids discovering there are people outside of her circles.
Sometimes it was hard to keep up with David: he’d seem overly-analytical, even for, well, him, and would even an intelligent high-schooler speak like that? But I’m not sure if that was writing or part of Asperger’s syndrome.
Sexual Content: “Homo is a pejorative term for a gay person, and even if my classmates are mistaken about my sexual orientation, they should know better than to use that word./ “Common characteristics of friend group, with the exception of Kit, include flat-ironed hair, mild acne, and larger than average breasts.”/ Character says he considered whether guys find football homoerotic, but decided probably not, given their girlfriends./ Multiple instances of kissing./ Character finds out her mother cheated on her father./ Girls admire a boy’s physique rather lasciviously./
Language: 35 scatological terms, 5 d***, 4 hell, 4 derogatory terms, 3 uses of the acronym WTF, 1 a**h***
Violence: Character remembers being bullied and shoved around. Several boys gang up on one boy, threatening him; the threatened character beats up seven boys, mostly off screen, sending several to the hospital. Character has repeat nightmares about the car-crash in which her father died.