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Friday, February 19, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?  

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?

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?
I knew I was going to enjoy Tell Me Three Things the moment I read the jacket copy. Sharp and delightful yet raw and chock full of emotion, Julie Buxbaum's debut YA novel is a contemporary story that truly captures the complexity of living with loss and navigating the waves of change that follow.

Jessie's world is rocked when, in the wake of her mother's death, her father marries a woman he met online and uproots their family to move to California and into a life that's wholly unfamiliar and often uncomfortable. New step-family, strange house that's less than homey, and, of course, a new school.

With her father focused on his new bride, Jessie's only lifeline arrives via email. The sender offers her unprecedented insider knowledge of her new surroundings at Wood Valley High School. Anything she wants to know is hers for the asking. Well, except for the obvious... "Who are you?"  Of course this leads to hilarious attempts and huge leaps to conclusions in an effort to unmask the mysterious person known only as Somebody Nobody.

Many of the characters in Tell Me Three Things are dealing with grief in some capacity, and the author does a wonderful job of touching on their unique ways of coping. I think Jessie puts it best when she describes her state as "this ugly swamp of humaness." There are also a few very personal grieving mechanisms in the book, which I appreciate but can't get into without giving too much away. 

Buxbaum nailed the pacing of this story. Once I was invested, which was fairly early on, it was an absolute race to the finish. That being said, I figured out what was going on not long after that. My exact words to the Twitterverse were: "I'm confident I know where you're going Book, but I like your style."

On background, I tend to be that girl anyway. I dissect words and plot points and decipher things a little faster than most. (Or so say my friends who are perpetually annoyed by this phenomena.) The unusual thing about Tell Me Three Things is that after I had sussed out what was going on with Somebody Nobody, I didn't tune out.

I just didn't quite feel like the game was over... so I kept reading. I could have easily flipped to the end, affirmed my suspicions and called it read, but I didn't. In my opinion, that's a credit to the author. A big one.

I'm not sure what to pinpoint here, but think about it... Something kept me reading, whether it was the writing or the pacing or the characters. I stayed invested, and that's the number on job of a storyteller - Suck readers in until the end!

I did have some small gripes along the way, like how all the boys are too cute, yet different from each other and we notice all their differences all the time. But honestly who hasn't been there while reading a YA novel with even the slightest hint of romance? They're teens, their hormones are raging... We get it.

Beyond the small stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's sweet and funny with some very poignant moments and some subtle messages that aren't to be overlooked in the mess of high school mean girls and swoon-worthy boys.

If you're a contemporary lover, then you're sure to want this one on your shelf. And for those who aren't, which is me most of the time, give this one a try because, while it may look like a sappy romance, it's really a story about trying to find your footing when your familiar foundation has been pulled out from under you.

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