Say what you will



Title:    Say What You Will

Author: Cammie McGovern

Publisher: HarperTeen, 2015

ISBN: 9780062271112

About the author: from

Cammie McGovern is the author of the much-acclaimed YA novel Say What You Will, published in 2014. A Step Toward Falling, another YA novel featuring characters with disabilities, is coming out in October, 2015. Just My Luck, for middle-grade readers, is coming out in February 2016. She has also written three adult novels, The Art of Seeing, Eye Contact, and Neighborhood Watch and is one of the proud founder of Whole Children/Milestones, a resource center for children and young adults with disabilities and their families. She lives in Amherst, MA, with her husband and three sons, the oldest of whom is autistic.

 Plot: Amy has cerebral palsy, and Matthew has OCD. Both of them have special needs, but that shouldn’t stop their friendship from blossoming into something more. The problem is, they both have a problem with expressing their feelings. Is that an obstacle they will overcome? Or will it haunt them forever?

Critical Evaluation:

Cammie McGovern writes an engaging and thoughtful novel about two people with special needs who find each other. The story follows a leisurely pace, and is accessible to the reader.

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or 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 of them realized.

Amy is ability diverse, courageous, and sarcastic. Amy has a sense of humor about her needs and pushes on with her life despite her disabilities:  “For years she’d never understood why these devices could include wireless capability, Bluetooth connection, 3G internet access, and still make a girl sound like Stephen Hawking.”

Matthew gave himself some control over his life by counting. “Counting was a relief. Almost a pleasure. A way to measure and contain a world that otherwise spun too quickly for him.” Matthew’s character is awkward, likable, and quirky.

When Amy and Matthew start to converse, it is in ALL CAPS. This makes the story a bit strange. Once they start to text, the words are more natural. The banter between Amy and Matthew is extremely enjoyable, and adds a lot of warmth to the story. This amusing and bittersweet novel feels hopeful. I found myself rooting for Amy and Matthew.

Reader’s Annotation: Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your feelings, especially to the person you love.

Genre: realistic fiction

Curriculum Ties: communication, writing

Booktalking Ideas: Amy and Matthew have a monumental failure to communicate their feelings. What might you have done in Amy and Matthew’s situation?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+

Challenge Issues: sex education, teen pregnancy

Challenge Resources 

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Why did you pick this for your collection?  

  • good reviews from respected sources