Tell Me Three Things
by Julie Buxbaum
I love and hate this book in equal measure. It is a dangerous book to read because it has the ability to put you in a deep reading rut. I feel like I should apologize to The Raven King because I can barely get through its first hundred pages; which is a damn shame because I’ve been waiting forever and a day to read it. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to finish a single book since finishing this one. And for the life of me, I just can’t move on. Depending on the type of reader you are, Tell Me Three Things can be hazardous to the health of your TBR pile. It’s either going to reaffirm your love for the written word or as in my case, it will stunt your reading groove.
Truthfully, I’m envious of those who haven’t discovered the sweetness of Tell Me Three Things. The romance, the characters, the storyline, and the dialogues – everything about it is a reminder of why I can never stop reading YA. Some books with a high school setting typically have the opposite effect on me. Most of the time, I can barely tolerate it. But this book exemplifies the type of contemporary YA I will keep coming back to.
It features a couple of characters who are adorably awkward in their own ways; the loss of their loved ones contributed to them being socially stunted – introverts, in their own respects. Somebody Nobody, for one, was living a double life. His other persona, though gregarious on the surface, was a reluctant participant in the social hierarchy in which he occupies a closer to the top wrung. He shies away from it which makes him a novelty and irresistible to girls and boys alike.
In contrast, Jesse stumbled on pretty much every facet of her new life. Having recently lost her mother and her dad consequently marrying almost soon after, her new life in Los Angeles is a far cry from the comfort of Chicago. She lives in a mansion. She goes to a prestigious school where everyone is practically a typical Californian. To top it off, she has a stepbrother who would rather forget that they ever existed. The only saving grace that stopped her from running back to Chicago was the correspondence from an online good Samaritan who felt the need to befriend her, albeit, anonymously. Somebody Nobody gave her guidance and tutelage with regards to the working annals of her new school.
Though the author did her best to give us viable suspects on the identity of SN, I half-expected, half-hoped who he was. The contenders gave me pause, made me think of the possibility at least. There’s Liam who was responsible for her part-time job at the bookstore his family owns; Caleb – the all around goofball and friend to Liam. Then there’s Ethan – a loner, aloof, an enigma with a predilection to Batman t-shirts. I loved “trying” to solve the identity of SN. Let me tell you that it’s not going to take you long before you catch on. But the mystery is just gravy, in my opinion.
Indeed, this book is a mine of story niches. It’s lovely and touching; funny and smart. I love watching Jess figure out how to navigate her new life despite grieving for her mother and dealing with abandonment issues from her father. I love watching her slowly accept the reality of having a step family. I eventually loved her step brother whom, when push came to shove, would protect her from the token Mean Girls of the school. Characters, even secondary ones, grew on me. They made me laugh and made me grin like a fool at inopportune moments. I especially adore Jesse’s interactions with “my suspect”.
Once in a while, I find a book like this that becomes an instant favorite within a couple of chapters into reading it. It’s in the way the story is constructed; the characters imagined. It’s in the ease in which I fall helplessly in love with everything that’s unfolding before me. And once in a while, there’s a book like this that makes me lose my appetite for everything else on my shelves. For that reason, I almost wish I never read the book in the first place. Almost, but not quite.