Rating: 5 OWLS
This is a young adult contemporary romance novel unlike anything I’ve read before. Cammie McGovern has managed to make me laugh, cry, get angry, cry some more, and still feel hopeful. The characters she created are absolutely brilliant; I adored Amy and Matthew, the struggles they faced, the outcome of the story, and the strong message the book offered its readers.
Amy is not your typical YA heroine. She was born with cerebral palsy, she is unable to walk without a walker, she is unable to talk without a voice computer, and she can’t control her own facial expressions. She does not have any friends mostly because she always needed a helper that has been an adult. At the same time, Matthew is not your typical YA male protagonist either. Matthew struggles with a very aggressive form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), he hears voices, has certain rituals he must follow, and is crippled by fear. Ever since developing OCD Matthew has become more isolated and has found himself a senior in high school with no friends or social life.
One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that while both characters have severe disabilities, the novel is not about disabilities and disorders. The main focus of the novel is the struggles that each teenager faces: love, friendship, acceptance, relationships with parents, and becoming independent adults.
The book is written from both Amy’s and Matthew’s point of view, alternating beautifully between the two. McGovern has managed to give her characters splendid voices, making readers fall in love and root for them. The struggles and situations they face along the road are heart wrenching, keeping readers constantly emotionally involved.
The story begins during Amy and Matthew’s senior year in high school, when Amy decides to hire peer aides, people from her own high school and the same age to assist her with getting around. She hopes that this will help her in preparing for college life when she plans to live on her own on campus. One of the aides Amy chooses is Matthew and this marks the beginning of one of the most epic relationships I have ever read. While they face different challenges, they develop a wonderful relationship that allows them to grow, be accepted for who they are, and learn together how to live as normal of a life as possible.
The novel spans their senior year in high school along with the first year after graduation, thus allowing them to develop, make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and grow as the readers hungrily turn each page.
This is a novel that left me emotionally drained in the best possible way. I am not sure I can adequately express in words how much I adored this book. Cammie McGovern has created a masterpiece that will tug at the heart of its readers, reach in the depths of their soul and challenge them not to get emotionally attached. If I had to describe Say What You Will in only one word I would choose: perfection.