I had the pleasure of reading Julie Buxbaum's debut YA novel Tell Me Three Things late last year. And it truly was a pleasure, and not just because of the adorable cover with heart-shaped waffles on it. No, it was a joy to read a YA novel that toed the line between drama and comedy. I simply couldn't help devouring this tale once I'd started, because it was just. that. good. Buxbaum really knows how to tell a story, embellishing a simple plot with enough raw authenticity to mesmerize the reader.
What I loved best about Tell Me Three Things can be summed up in three major points:
1) Jessie | I adored Jessie as a character. She's still mourning the loss of her mother, and doing that while dealing with the emotional turmoil of being uprooted from all she knows and dropped into a place where nothing is at all familiar. It's a lot for anyone to handle, let alone a teen. Add to that the reality of forming new friendships, navigating high school and developing romantic attachments, and you can certainly see why Jessie would be having a rough time. But Jessie rises to the challenge, facing her obstacles and adversaries with determination, wits and courage. It was an honor to read her story, and even more of an honor to feel like she could be my friend.
2) Online interactions | I have met so many wonderful people by being involved in online communities, and I always find it interesting when online relationships are a part of the novels I read. Jessie meets SN through an anonymous email she receives with an offer to guide her through her new school life. While it did make me feel uneasy at the start, I couldn't help falling in love with the humor and charm that characterizes their budding friendship. Their interactions were so silly, so witty and just so cute that it's really hard to resist encouraging the relationship that forms. I love that the novel really shows how someone you might never actually see in person can become a confidante and support system. (And this is mostly because I have experienced the joys of this on a personal level!)
3) Plot | I'm going to sound like a broken record when I say this, but I love romantic comedies. This novel actually reads like a romantic comedy for teens! Events in this book echo some of the moments or emotions in my favorite films, but I still found the way it was put together quite refreshing. Though there is a romantic angle to Jessie's story, that's not all that it's about. There's also friendship and family, grief and growth, and Jessie's own personal transformation. I laughed, I teared up, I cheered - all in a day's work for this kind of story.
I'm so happy that I got to read Buxbaum's YA debut. The emotion that she infused into Jessie's story struck such a strong chord in me, and I also enjoyed how she wrote the plot. I love how she wrote Tell Me Three Things, and I'm eager to experience her writing in her other novels after reading this one!
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press | Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Source: ARC from the publisher (Thanks!)
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
The thing is, Jessie does need help. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son. In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?