Another triumphant Young Adult book by Julie Buxbaum! This time centering around a socially cloistered teenage boy with above-average intelligence and a high-achieving girl who just lost her father. Is it possible I liked this book even more than Buxbaum’s other emotional novel, Tell Me Three Things? Perhaps. I do know that I labored for a ridiculously long time writing this review. I’m not sure why. Maybe I felt like David and Kit deserved the extra effort.
David and Kit. High school juniors. There’s so much to love about these two. As the reader I feel fiercely protective of them, which just proves Julie Buxbaum’s skill as a writer.
David, with his high functioning autism and awkward genius adorableness. David, with his blunt, literal interpretation of the world and its inhabitants. David, who seesaws between wisdom beyond his years and paralyzing confusion at man’s inhumanity to man. David, who is confident in his strengths but also humble enough to ask for help. (With a special shout out to Miney, who might just be the best big sister EVER.) David, our brave knight in dented armor, but a knight nonetheless.
And Kit. So many Goodreads reviews unfairly tear her apart. Kit, who is dealing with a cacophony of family issues, and deserves nothing but our compassion. Kit, an only child, with heavy emphasis on “only.” Kit, with no sibling to lean on or commiserate with about her parents and their secrets. Kit, with her age-appropriate uncertainty, mired in an impossible situation. Kit, who is suffering in her own isolation and still manages to break through David’s invisible walls.
What To Say Next is a gem. A very special read. In fact, the author has admitted it is her favorite book that she’s written. Character driven, but characters who touched my heart so deeply they transcend the page. I loved it and I loved them.