Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Release date: April 5, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 336

Description (from Goodreads):

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.

This book broke my heart and then proceeded to put it right back together! 

I picked Tell Me Three Things from my local library shelf at a time I had not been reading for several weeks. Well, I had been reading, but only things related to my thesis. As a big waffle fan, I must say it was the waffle pieces on the cover that drew me towards this one, but as a fan of contemporary YA as well, the synopsis sounded like something I could enjoy. And oh boy, I really did enjoy it (I think having waffles while reading it could only have made it better!)

Jessie's mother has died and now she is forced to move across the country to California to live with his father than his new wife. Jessie feels like everything she has become to known has "hers" has been taken from her and cannot imagine how life in California could make any difference. Her new "stepmother" is aloof, her stepbrother seems to be ashamed of her, and new school is like something out of a teen drama - filled with drama and extremely difficult to navigate. 

When it seems like things could not get worse, she receives an email from a mystery guy that could chance everything. The guy, SN, is someone who goes to school with her but demands to remain anonymous. While Jessie is first freaked out by this anonymous messenger and is determined it is something trying to make fun of her (we're all seen teen movies with a plot like that!), she eventually realizes that she might need help just to survive at her new school. 

As Jessie befriends SN online, she slowly starts to find her place from school. She befriends Dri and Angie, starts to work in a bookstore with Liam and is paired up with the mysterious Ethan to work on an English assignment. As she spends more time with these people, the social circles of the school start to mix up and occasionally Jessie begins to find herself involved in drama she didn't want to be a part of. Luckily, SN is there to help her out and to cheer her up.

I absolutely loved Jessie as a character. She felt so real because throughout the book she is vulnerable, strong, brave, clueless, silly, funny, confused, determined, and so much more. As someone who has lost a parent, I was able to relate to the feeling of having to go through the worst possible thing that you could imagine happening to you as a teenager. While the parent I lost was my father, the emotions of absolute grief and realizing that your parent won't be there for the future milestones of your life were something I felt a real connection with. The struggle she goes through when she has to enter into a new kind of family setting is also something I found easy to relate with. I think all of this relatability made me very vulnerable while reading this book, and there were several times while reading this that I found myself sobbing alone in my bed. 

Don't get me wrong, though, Tell Me Three Things is not purely a sad book. There is actually quite a bit of happiness causing moments here, like the forming of new friendships, the rekindling of old ones, and witnessing intense crushes and maybe even falling in love. 

One of the best parts of this novel is the mystery of SN's identity. It probably does not come to anyone as a surprise who he actually is (at least it didn't come to me), but I enjoyed reading about the drama that surrounds its reveal and the feelings Jessie goes through as she thinks about how her relationship with SN might change if they actually meet each other. 

There are no love triangles here, so even those YA contemporary readers who hate love triangles might enjoy this one. 

Maybe it's because I had not read for a while, or because I was able to find myself from this book so easily that I ended up enjoying this so damn much. Overall, it is a well-written, incredibly paced young adult contemporary novel that can make you cry both happy and sad tears. At least for me, those are always the best kind of books.



  1. I had this one on my TBR list and was excited to read it until I saw YA but maybe I should still give it a try. I loved her book After You.

    1. I haven't read anything she has written for adults, but definitely would like to check for example After You out since I really liked this book :)

  2. This is sitting on my shelf and I really need to pick it up. I think it sounds like a good mix of sad and happy and love that there aren't any love triangles. Great review!!

    1. You really should because it definitely as a mix of lot of emotions!


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