“Say What You Will” by Cammie McGovern
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.
McGovern has given us a story that examines the lives of two teenagers with disabilities. She helps us get a glimpse of the kinds of obstacles that teens with disabilities face everyday. Amy was born with Cerebral Palsy, but despite her disability she is a bright student who is at the top of her class. Yet, what she longs for more than anything is to have friends her own age and be a “normal” teenager. She convinces her parents to allow her to have student aides instead of adult aides so that she can have an opportunity to interact with other teens. Matthew has OCD and different anxieties. He also has difficulty with social situations, therefore, he doesn’t really have friends. So he is surprised when, after a random conversation with Amy, she encourages him to apply to be one of her new student aides.
Through her student aides, Amy discovers for the first time what it’s like to have friends her own age. Almost immediately Amy and Matthew’s relationship changes from a work relationship to a friendship that slowly grows into something more. The story truly is poignant. McGovern has given us a story that examines the lives of teenagers with disabilities. She helps us get a glimpse of the kinds of obstacles that teenagers with disabilities face everyday. It is a beautiful story and very much worth reading.
“I’ve decided that it’s possible to love someone for entirely selfless reasons, for all of their flaws and weaknesses, and still not succeed in having them love you back. It’s sad, perhaps, but not tragic, unless you dwell forever in the pursuit of their elusive affections.”
“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…”
“He stood in front of her and told her he’d come, not to climb her tower but to shelter it. In his clumsy way, he was like a prince who arrived with sweaty armpits and bad hair. At least I’m here, he might have said. That’s better than nothing. And it was.”