TELL ME THREE THINGS
By Julie Buxbaum
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Delcorte Press (April 5, 2016)
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
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.
Tell Me Three Things is the story of Jessie, a girl who lost her mother and is dealing with not only the aftermath of that but also the fact that her dad just up and married another woman out of the blue and is moving them out to L.A. immediately to start this new life of theirs. Although Jessie isn't dealing with it too well. Her new step-mother is strange, her step-bro is a total butt, and then her super rich private school classmates could be a little more friendly. Until someone named Somebody Nobody (a.k.a. SN) emails Jessie and offers to show her the ropes at her new school. The only catch? He is completely anonymous, and doesn't want Jessie to know who he is. Despite thinking this could possibly be a joke catfish-type thing by one of the mean girls at school, she decides to start talking to SN and ends up not only really attached to whoever they are, but also starts figuring out her new life with their help. But when Jessie tries to find out who SN is, will she end up truly guessing the right person or just making a fool out of herself in the process?
1. Honestly, Tell Me Three Things is now one of my top 5 favorite contemporary novels of all time.
2. Julie Buxbaum kept me guessing at who exactly SN was until the last 5 pages. I kept hoping it was a certain guy, but then I would be completely thrown off my game and start thinking it was someone else. The fact that she kept switching it up and I couldn't pinpoint exactly who it was (not who I wanted it to be) was phenomenal.
3. The writing. A lot of the books that I ultimately end up really enjoying is because of the writing. Despite being filled with realistic problems that people face every single day (i.e. terrible anxiety, depression, loss, etc.), I felt like Julie really nailed it on the head. I felt like someone finally understood how I feel each and every time I panic over something I know is ridiculous but can't stop panicking over regardless, and that made me love it all the more. The reason I read is to know that I'm not the only one who feels the way I do, and when I find a book that completely gets me, I want to fangirl about it all over the place.
*insert crazy fangirl-ing here*
Gosh, I just can't get over how much LOVE I have for this book. I recently became obsessed with Catfish, (yes, the bad reality tv show) and the whole time I was so scared that this was going to turn into something like that, but it totally didn't. It kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing at SN's identity. It made me love Jessie's new friendships and also understand that maybe our feelings aren't the only ones that matter out there, even if it seems like our lives are the worst ones ever. Someone out there always has something worse going on in their life, and it's not so bad to kind of take a step back and realize that.
On top of being completely quotable writing, total swoonage over SN occurs. How can you not fall head over heels for a guy who just seems to get you? Even if you've never met in real life (or so you think) or you don't know their real identity. I might understand this a bit more than some people, because of the many bloggers I've met through online things and then actually met in real life. They are some of my closest, best friends just because I went out on a limb and trusted them, and it has 150% turned my life around. I was never this happy until after I met them. (shout out to my BEA SQUAD)
One other thing to note: this is a pretty clean read. I don't specifically remember any cussing. There are references to sex, but I felt like they were in a classy way. Both sides of having sex vs. not having it for the first time were presented in a way that I know a lot of teens don't see in school these days. It was really refreshing to see an author address these matters in the way that Julie Buxbaum did. I truly feel like it's something each person has to decide themselves after they've researched the facts and listened to how they truly feel about a person/themselves. It's not a decision to be made lightly, and it was addressed in the way every decision should be. You do you and make sure you've truly thought about it before you rush into something you might end up regretting. Everyone is different, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Seriously, I know I say this a lot, but if you desperate for a new voice in contemporary YA with a solid, unique plot line, pick up Tell Me Three Things, read it immediately, and then tweet me so we can swoon over SN together. (I'm serious. I NEED TO FANGIRL OVER SN WITH SOMEONE.) I give Tell Me Three Things SIX pieces, something I rarely do, but it's wholeheartedly deserved in this case.