Thursday, June 12, 2014

[Book Review + #WeNeedDiverseBooks Giveaway] Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

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Blog Tour (Review + Giveaway): Say What You Will by Cammie McGovernTitle: Say What You Will 
Author: Cammie McGovern 
Publication: HarperTeen | June 3, 2014 
Genres: ContemporaryYoung Adult 
Source: Blog TourPublisher 

Goodreads • Amazon 

John Green's The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern's insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
From the very beginning, I was looking forward to this book about of its premise. Although I have to say that I haven't read The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor & Park (yes, I know it's a shame, don't judge), I put this on my tbr list as soon as I read the summary on Goodreads. Say What You Will is so different from anything that I have ever read before. In my entire life I have never read about a handicapped girl who is so brilliant to the point that I forgot about her disability & was awed at how incredible she was.
“Instead of beauty, I have a face no one envies and a body no one would choose to live in. These two factors alone have freed up my days to pursue what other girls my age might also do if their strong legs weren't carrying them to dance and parties and places that feed a lot of insecurities...”
I loved reading about her relationship with Matthew. They are two people that couldn't be more different and more similar at the same time. Born with cerebral palsy, Amy doesn't see herself as someone who should miss out on life just because she needs a voice box to communicate. & Matthew realizes that he has OCD which could get into a way of his friendship with Amy. 
“I asked if I could help you because I've never been able to do that for anyone. I wanted to see if I could. It's terrible always being the person who need help. I'm sorry if I misjudged everything. I'm so new at having friends that I make mistakes sometimes...”
Books that leave me speechless are the worst to write a review for because my emotions simply can't be transferred into words. Cammie McGovern is so talented, I absolutely love her writing and the way she develops her characters. Definitely becoming one of my new favorite authors, McGovern is the author to watch for & be on the look out for new novels!
Writing about OCD

                The most interesting discovery I made in writing Matthew, a character with OCD, is how many people read a little bit about OCD and think they have it.  As I researched, I diagnosed seeds of it in myself as a teenager.  I also recognized it in my oldest son who is seventeen and has autism.  For me, though the real surprise came when my fourteen-year-old son read Amy and Matthew and came into my room afterward.   It was late at night and he whispered softly, “You based Matthew on me, didn’t you?”
                Of our three children, he is our most outgoing and most social kid.  In his group, I think of him as the relatively easy-going one who navigates the moodiness and hilarity of his friends with an even keel.    “God no,” I said, stunned.   Where had this idea come from?  Most nights, as I lie on my bed reading, he leans into my bathroom mirror, examines his face for new patches of acne, and tells me stories about his crowd that get me laughing so hard I get tears in my eyes.  “I do all that stuff,” he whispered that night.  “I make deals all day long—if I make it to my locker in ten steps, my test will go well…If I don’t step on any lines, I’ll get an A…”
He’d never told me this before.  In fact, I’d never thought of him as particularly anxious or as someone who would dabble in the—I’m not sure how else to put it—the illogical comforts of OCD deal-making.  I remembered doing it all the time when I was a teenager, but I was far shier and less social than he.  I didn’t travel school hallways with a pack of friends, so I had plenty of time to walk on blue tiles only and touch certain heating vents. 
When my youngest son, the ten year old, overheard us talking about it again the next morning, he cornered me that afternoon and whispered, “Those things you and Charlie were talking about, I do them too.  All the time—“
By this point, it was slightly less of a surprise, or maybe I’d learned something, not about my children, but about OCD.  In my research, it’s often described as the mental illness that afflicts the otherwise sanest people you’ll ever meet.  Frequently very bright, people with OCD nearly always recognize the irrationality of compulsive thoughts.  They know the stove has been turned off; still their brain insists on checking.  They know step counts won’t effect a test score; still their brain insists it will.
Perhaps in the chaotic pressure of navigating adolescence and all the changes one has no control over, OCD thoughts provide the comfort of some illusory control. I know they did for me without becoming too obtrusive later in life.  They kept me busy as I navigated hallways filled with people who weren’t my friends.    I don’t mean to equate an adolescent propensity toward mild OCD with the more serious, more debilitating form that Matthew and so many others experience.  I only mean to say that if you have it and talk about it, I suspect you’ll be amazed at how many people recognize immediately what you are saying.   It’s not as illogical or ridiculous as you suspect it might be.  It’s a complicated bargain with the abstractions we have all wrestled mightily with:  perfection, luck, safety, hope.  It’s our brain playing games to keep us well.  If I do these things, everything will work out.  Maybe it’s a kind of creative faith, or a tool.  Or maybe it’s a way for a fourteen year old kid with a lot on his plate to seem easy-going.  I’m not sure.  I just know you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.

About Cammie McGovern

Cammie McGovern was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and received the Nelson Algren Award in short fiction. Her work has been published in Redbook, Seventeen, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, and other publications.


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