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?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.
Title: Tell Me Three Things
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Number of Pages: 328
Publishing Date: April 5th, 2016
When attending YALLWEST last April, I received a chapter sampler of this book and, after reading it, I found myself really reeled in by the story and the characters. I purchased this book soon after it came out and I read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed this book because, although it had it’s light-and-fluffy-contemporary moments, there were also some really deep themes woven in throughout the story that I really appreciated.
The rest of this review is spoiler-free.
The plot of this book was very interesting and it had a Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda-esque feel to it. And, just like what happened with Simon, I figured out who the secret person messaging the main character was within a few chapters. However, that didn’t really ruin the book at all for me. I enjoyed the inner struggle of trying to decipher who was messaging Jessie and wishing that she would just figure it out already because it was blatantly obvious at certain points.
While this book did have the typical contemporary tropes, it also dealt with some heavy topics. I really loved how this book featured the aftermath of a parent dying and how people have to slowly get used to the grieving process and figure out how to maneuver through their every day lives whilst dealing with such a dramatic and sad change. I personally have gone through this exact situation and I think that the author wrote a realistic and respectable representation of what grief feels like, especially when losing a parent. I think the ongoing incorporation of grief into the plot was really well done and I applaud the author for utilizing such an important theme and using it in an appropriate manner.
The romance in this novel was really well done and could I consider it to be a slow-burn romance? I think I kind of can. I knew straight away who I shipped with the main character and let’s just say that the ending was very satisfying for my inner-shipping-fangirl-heart.
“But sometimes a kiss is not a kiss is not a kiss. Sometimes it’s a poetry.”
With that being said, however, I guess my only real critique that I had for this book was the ending. Like I said previously, it was a satisfying ending regarding the romance, but I think it was really fast and I wish there had been some type of epilogue to show what happened with the characters that I had grown pretty interested in.
The main character, Jessie, was an enjoyable protagonist with obvious struggles that she was working through. I liked seeing how her relationship with her dad, step-mom, and step-brother really evolved and I think it was portrayed realistically. I think that the struggles she went through regarding growing apart from family members and friends and not being able to socialize that well was really representative of grief and how it can deeply affect various parts of a person’s life. Jessie was so relatable and I grew to really love her character (although she did annoy me at times because it was eventually so obvious who SN was).
“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”
The writing style that the author used in this book was witty, humorous, and all-around really enjoyable. It was really easy to read but it also had the complexity of mixing together light contemporary themes with deeper, more personal subject matters.
Overall, I thought this was a cute and quirky contemporary novel that dealt with really complex themes in the right way. Including grief into a contemporary setting can easily go wrong, but the author took a really realistic approach to the whole concept of having to continue with life whilst dealing with the aftermath of the grieving process. I applaud the author greatly for writing a novel that is relatable and really impactful.
So, have you read Tell Me Three Things? What did you think about it? Comment below!