Say What You Will

Say What You Will

Say What You Will

by Cammie McGovern

Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: June 3rd, 2014
by HarperTeen




Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully 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 ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.


Cammie McGovern’s YA debut Say What You Will is a wonderful novel about first love, friendships, and being who you truly are. While, I admit, I wasn’t fully able to engross myself into Amy and Matthew’s story as I would have liked (probably due to the third person narration), I still found it to be a fabulous and intriguing glimpse into what life would be like with cerebral palsy and OCD.

16-year-old Amy was born with cerebral palsy and can’t walk without a walker or talk without a voicebox. When she starts school for the first time, she puts up an advertisement for a student helper.

When Matthew, plagued by OCD, sees this advertisement, he decides to volunteer. Little does he know that he and Amy are more alike then they realized.

I think one of the minor problems I had with Say What You Will was the writing. I feel it would have been more effective if the story was written in the duel perspective of Amy and Matthew in first person. The third person narration it was written in simply made me feel a bit distant from Amy and Matthew because we were never really able to get “inside their heads.”

Speaking of which, I feel virtually all the characters could have been a bit more developed. I enjoyed them, but they never really stood out to me. It would have been helpful if they were given a little more backstory and their personalities were more defined.

All in all, despite the minor flaws it had, Say What You Will is definitely worth the read. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful, and I have no doubt that it will be widely accepted and read by teens. Matthew and Amy’s story is one that will ultimitely stick out and grab your heart, and you’ll be thrown in to their wonderful romance, and the many ups and downs it has along the way.


56 thoughts on “Say What You Will

  1. BEAUTIFUL review Zoe, accompanying what I already find to be a beautiful story. It’s so good to see authors branching out and writing about topics that do not often get touched upon. Sorry that the characterisation and narrative didn’t work for you, but at least you enjoyed the romance overall. πŸ˜€

    I would love to read this book and broaden my own mind on people with cerebral palsy as well as OCD. I’ve never formally met anything with either of those conditions, so I guess reading about it will be beneficial for now. Thank you for this wonderful review Zoe, and for putting this on my radar. <3

    1. Aww…thank you Joy! *blushes* It’s awesome, right? Not the norm, but it’s definitely something that should be touched upon, and I’m so glad Cammie McGovern did. No problem! <3 Thank you for always leaving the sweetest comments Joy! <3

  2. Lovely review – this is the first one i’ve seen for this. I do really want to read this one, but it’s good to go in knowing it will be third person. It does seem like a book that would have been better suited for first-person.

    1. Thank you Lauren! It definitely was suited better for first person, but it was a decent read nonetheless. πŸ™‚

  3. Awww that’s nice to hear that there’s a lesson to all this. I have the ARC for say what you will, but I’m still trying to get into the contemporary element since I might end up hating it. We don’t want that to happen. Still, I’m glad you enjoyed. I’ve never supported third person even if it is omniscient. I like to see it through the character’s eyes more since the connection is easier to attain. Lovely review!

    1. I know! It’s awesome! πŸ˜€

      Aww…sorry you’re not into the contemporary element quite yet Chyna! Hopefully it gets to you soon! xD

      I’m fine with an occasional 3rd person in sci-fi or fantasies, but in contemporaries they don’t usually seem…right most of the time. I think it has to do with what you said – contemporaries are usually more character-based than other genres, so it only makes sense we want to see from their POV. πŸ™‚

      Thank you!

  4. This is a brilliant example of diversity in books that we so desperately need. Incredible review Zoe, I thought it sounded familiar, but realised I read the synopsis for the UK release. Wonder why they changed the name.

    1. YES! Woo-hoo for diversity! πŸ˜‰
      Thank you Kelly! (And, to answer your question, I think it’s because the UK is focusing more on the romance aspect, and the US is focusing more on the “people with disabilities coming together” aspect).

  5. Wonderful review, I’m really glad that romance sounds honest and not all things are peachy all the time! This novel sounds quite emotional with the cerebral palsy and finding oneself. I gotta say, I don’t really mind third person though as long as it’s written well and you can connect with the characters. I really love the cover to this book too! Lovely review Zoe <3

    1. Thank you Jeann! πŸ˜€ It is definitely an emotional read! If you don’t mind third person narratives, this is definitely something you should try! πŸ˜€

  6. Very interesting concept. I’m sorry that the third person narration made you feel distanced from the characters, b/c that’s ultimately what makes or breaks a book for me . . . it doesn’t matter how original or significant the topic a writer chooses for her story, if I don’t connect to the characters, who cares? But I’m glad you were able to enjoy and appreciate the book despite that. Lovely review, Zoe.

    1. It’s definitely an original concept! I agree. Characters are everything for me, and I didn’t feel for them quite as much as I wanted to in this one, which was a shame. Nonetheless, it was still an entertaining read. πŸ™‚ Thank you Jessica! <3

  7. I really love the cover for this book! I’ve been curious about it, but at the same time, I’m not entirely sure if it’s my sort of story. I know what you mean about third person. I only really enjoy a third person narrative in fantasy or science fiction, and tend to prefer first person most of the time. The romance here sounds very well-written though, and I’m glad that you enjoyed that aspect of it. Great review, Zoe!

    1. It’s gorgeous, right? <3

      Yes, I completely agree! 3rd person in sci-fi or fantasies is fine for me, but in contemporaries they don’t usually seem…right most of the time. I think it has to do with contemporaries being more character-based than other genres, so it only makes sense we want to see from their POV.

      The romance was definitely wonderful!

      Thank you Sam! <3

  8. Ah yes it’s difficult when the writing isn’t that good but it seems like you actually had a good time with this one. I didn’t know it but the cover is sooooo cute! thanks for the review.

    1. I definitely had a good time with this one! πŸ˜€ I agree…such a great cover! <3
      No problem! Thank you for always leaving such lovely comments!

  9. This reminds me of “Wonder” by RJ Palacio, where it spoke about being ‘kinder’, not just to those who are different, but to everyone. I’m guessing this story will touch my heart. Wonderful review, Zoe!

  10. Awwww, this sounds really sweet, adorable, and endearing. I’m happy to see that this one features a character that has cerebral palsy. Does it talk about the illness in an accurate way, with regards to symptoms and causes (from what you know)? In any case, I’m definitely checking this out. It sounds really beautiful. I’d love to be with them as they go through this journey of self discovery πŸ™‚

    1. It is! But it’s actually kind of sad in some ways too!

      From what I know, yes, it was actually surprisingly accurate. Maybe a minor nitpick here or there, but overall I was really impressed. It’s obvious McGovern has done an extensive amount of research on the topic, and it shows! πŸ˜€

      Yeah! Glad you’re going to give this a try Faye! <3

  11. URGH I JUST NEEED THIS ONE! I keep hearing really good things about it and i love the synopsis and the cover so i just need it *makes grabby hands*
    i’m glad you all around enjoyed it and that this read just worked for you!
    Great review!

  12. Before anything else, I absolutely love the cover! It’s simple yet it really catches my attention. The premise of the romance is definitely interesting and I’m really glad that the romance and relationship between these two complex characters worked out for you because I think this is the book’s main draw.

    I can definitely understand why the third person narrative can be a hindrance though, sometimes the book just works a lot more if it’s in first person because as you said, it gives readers to get in the characters heads more. Lovely review Zoe! <3

    1. Yes! Such a great cover, right? <3 I'm not typically a huge romance person, so I was absolutely thrilled that it worked for me as well as it did! πŸ˜€

      Thank you! So glad you agree! <3 Thank you!

  13. This sounds adorable. So sad you couldn’t connect more to the story! Sometimes third person narrative can make or break a book, and I guess that’s what happened here. I still want to read it, and I kinda wish it had the same name as in the UK. For some reason, Matthew & Amy captures my attention much more (I’m weird like that!). Beautiful review.

    1. It’s definitely adorable, but at the same time it has a mature and sad feel to it.
      Yes, absolutely. I think that’s exactly what happened.
      I’m glad you’re intrigued!
      Thank you!

  14. Lovely review, Zoe. I agree though a book just seems so much better in first person narration. I haven’t read much on cerebral palsy so I would like it for that aspect, and how can you go wrong with a beautiful romance?

    1. Thank you Heidi! <3 Some books I enjoy in 3rd person, but this just wasn't one. And yes! Beautiful romances make everything better! πŸ˜‰

  15. I absolutely LOVE stories about first love and friendships<3 I'm so glad that Amy and Matthew's romance was a hit for you…I think simply based on that, I'll give this book a try πŸ™‚ (Hahaa, yes, I do love romance…a bit too much in fact!)

    Fab review lovely!

    1. Me too! They’re always so fun to read! πŸ˜€ Yeah! Glad you’re going to give it a try! πŸ˜‰
      Thank you!

  16. This is one of my most anticipated books of the Summer!! I’m disappointed to hear about the third person narration. I almost always prefer first person and think romances especially benefit from dual perspective. I’m happy to hear that even though you didn’t connect with either character very deeply you still enjoyed the story overall. Excellent review =D

    1. It was one of mine too! πŸ˜€ I hope you end up enjoying it!
      Yes, I absolutely agree. For this type of story especially, it would have been better suited for 1st person, maybe in dual POVs, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. πŸ™ It was still an enjoyable read though! πŸ˜€
      Thank you!

  17. I definitely know how narration can make or break a book. I really like when you can relate to a character and feel his/her emotions better so I’m not sure this one would be for me. Plus I prefer character driven books and if the characters aren’t too developed then I don’t see myself enjoying it too much. Although it does sound like it has some great elements… I’m torn πŸ™‚ Great review, Zoe!

    1. Yes, it definitely can – especially in contemporaries! I’d say give it a try and see what you think! If you don’t click with it, you can always DNF it. πŸ™‚ Thank you Alise!

  18. Ohhh, no. I have this to read (I won an ARC), buuuut now I’m worried. I was already worried because it’s being compared to John Green (like…what?!! why DO that to a book?!) and yeah, I know where my loyalties lie. πŸ˜‰ SO. Awkward. I don’t like feeling distanced from the characters. But I have a feeling I’ll probably feel similiar to you on this. ;))

    1. I feel comparing books in general is just so… UGH. I want books to speak for themselves. I don’t need comparisons to interest me in reading something, you know? Haha…knowing you, yes, you probably will. 😐

  19. Its too bad that you couldn’t connect with the characters a lot. I agree that when written in third person, it feels a bit distant to the characters. But I’ll still check this out. Reading the blurb, I feel like this would a be a book that would make me cry at night hahaha.

    1. Thank you Jules! So glad to find someone who agrees. πŸ™‚
      It’s definitely a sad one! Let me know if you decide to give it a try, okay? πŸ™‚

  20. The third person POV is kind of a turn-off, especially for this type of read. Hmm… I wonder why the author chose to go that route? Anyway, I’m glad to hear that the story had some redeeming elements. Great review!

    1. It’s definitely a solid novel otherwise, so don’t let that turn you away. It is kind of surprising that the author chose to go that route. Not exactly sure why. Thank you!

  21. I always find it a little disheartening when I read a book and feel like it was written in the wrong ‘person’. Some stories are just better in the first person, and sometimes the third person can’t capture things the way the first can. Especially, like you said, in a story like this. We need those characters’ perspectives and to know their feelings first-hand.

    I’m so happy the romance was dealt with so fantastically though! That’s something I was worried about with this one as, all things considered, it seemed like it would be a really hard love story to get right? I’m glad the author didn’t over-sell the corniness or try to make it into something it wasn’t. It sounds authentic and real and oh-so-swoony πŸ™‚

    1. “Some stories are just better in the first person, and sometimes the third person can’t capture things the way the first can.

      Yes! You’re absolutely spot-on Allie!

      The romance was definitely solid, so no complaints there. It’s definitely authentic and swoony, and even a bit sad at times.

  22. I’d only just heard about this from someone’s massive HarperTeen book haul yesterday and I instantly wanted to know more about it because the cover is beautiful! I’m so glad you posted a review on it.
    I would have expected a story like this to be in dual perspective like you said so I think the 3rd person narration may get to me.
    This does sound really beautiful and I’m a sucker for romances, based on what you said, the love story sounds so sweet and realistic.
    I must get my hands on this, thanks for the honest review!

    1. The cover’s gorgeous, right? πŸ˜€
      Yep, I expected this to be dual narrated as well, but I wasn’t expecting it to be in 3rd person! But, nonetheless, a beautiful story. πŸ˜€ Thank you for the lovely comment! <3

  23. I thought I hadn’t heard of this before but once I saw the Amy & Matthew I realised that I had. I am planning to read this soon so I am glad I read your review first. You have prepared me a little better for it and I won’t be going in with ridiculously high expectations now. I think the third person narrative will get to me a little too, I am not always the biggest fan of those in books. I am looking forward to the romantic aspect as I have heard lots of great things about Amy & Matthew’s romance in this book. Hopefully I will end up really enjoying this. Thanks for the great review πŸ™‚

    1. It’s a wonderful story, just the little hiccup in the writing kept it from being a mind-boggling read, you know? Looking forward to seeing what you think! πŸ˜€

  24. I have so much love for this book, so I’m glad to hear you liked it even if you had a few problems with it. I didn’t mind the third person narration – first vs. third person usually doesn’t have a huge impact on my ability to connect to the characters – but I understand why you would have preferred a dual POV. And I agree about the romance – I adore how slowly it builds, making me cheer for the characters wholeheartedly. That cheesy saying – “they complete each other” – almost applies here because their strengths and weaknesses align so perfectly. <3

    1. Hmm…I can definitely see where you’re coming from! πŸ˜€ The romance was wonderful, right? πŸ™‚ I agree…such a beautiful story! So glad you enjoyed it as well Emily! <3

  25. I was actually happy with this POV. For some reason, it made it easy for me to connect with the characters. I also adored the romance and how real it felt. How Matthew first admits that he finds it scary to touch her, but how he slowly let go of that feeling and sees her for who she is. Such a beautiful story πŸ™‚

    1. Hmm…I can definitely see where you’re coming from! πŸ˜€ The romance was wonderful, right? πŸ™‚ I agree…such a beautiful story! So glad you enjoyed it as well Mel! <3

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