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Book Discoveries: Say What You Will

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Book Discoveries is a new, weekly column reviewing literature from around the world. Opinions on various works of fiction and nonfiction can be found here each week.

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In the world of literature, there is a genre to suit just about everyone.

Romance is a popular theme among young adults, and the subject of long-lasting love is prevalent in many of today’s contemporary novels as a result.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern began as a story about a girl named Amy and a boy named Matthew, but it ended up being so much more than I ever could have expected.

Amy was born with cerebral palsy, which keeps her from speaking and walking. As a result, she must use a computer to communicate with her peers.

When we meet Matthew, he has a slight case of obsessive-compulsive disorder that is slowly getting worse.

The two come together in an extremely unconventional way when Amy asks Matthew to help her make friends with their peers, and he gladly accepts.

Matthew helps Amy in an obvious way—carrying her books, opening doors and everyday things the girl cannot do herself.

In a weird way, the two begin helping each other out. A girl who has always needed aid from everybody around her finally finds a way to give back. She is dead-set on helping Matthew, so she gives him tasks she knows will fight against his OCD.

Admittedly, the two have a strange friendship from the beginning. Their conversations are awkward because Amy has to type her responses and Matthew is always jittery.

The story progresses in a fantastic way because it does not just end when they finish high school, like most novels. It delves into the characters’ personal struggles with college and work and determining their future, which is something that most people can relate to.

The novel also makes commonly known disorders easier to understand. People can usually say what both cerebral palsy and OCD look like, but the disorders are still difficult to personally understand.

It is evident that McGovern did her research. She carefully explains the conditions from the point of view of people who suffer from them. McGovern writes beautiful inner dialogue with absolutely breathtaking style. Each sentence allows the reader to connect with the characters’ struggles.

McGovern’s writing truly embodies Amy’s voice and thought process. Although the subject matter of the book may seem gloomy, the novel itself has many laugh-out-loud moments, which are always important in a novel with serious themes.

What makes the reader fall in love with this book is the complex character development. The characters have many quirks and flaws, but McGovern is quick to show imperfections do not consume them or determine self-worth.

McGovern dives into many themes throughout the novel, but I think the most important one is self-discovery—that moment when a small light bulb pops over your head and you know what is meant to happen.

It’s an odd thought, but self-discovery and acceptance go hand-in-hand, and both themes appear all throughout the words of Say What You Will.

Coming from a harsh judge, the novel deserves 3.5 out of 5 stars.