Published by Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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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 a contemporary novel with not only an adorable romance, but some great family elements too. The story begins when our main character, Jessie, receives an email from a mystery person called Somebody/Nobody (or SN for short). Jessie has just moved from Chicago to California, where she feels completely out of her element because of the lavish lifestyle that all of her classmates and her new stepfamily indulge in. When SN, a mystery student from her new high school, offers to be her anonymous guide to her school, Jessie accepts and the story goes from there. Now, let me tell you three things about the book.
Tell Me Three Things has a mystery aspect to it. The identity of Jessie’s anonymous emailer is a mystery from the beginning of the book until the very end. The reader, along with Jessie, spends the entire book trying to guess who this secret emailer is and trying to match them up with a number of different boys that are featured in the story. While it wasn’t super predictable (it was only kind of predictable), I managed to guess who SN was quite early in the book. However, knowing who SN is early on in the book doesn’t detract from the story at all and I really enjoyed the entire plot and how Jessie went about trying to find out who SN was. I liked the ‘tell me three things’ aspect of the book where Jessie and SN constantly share facts about themselves with each other. It was a really fast-paced book and the mystery aspect of it kept me in the story and made it a fun reading experience.
I was a big fan of the romance in the book. There was a very slight aspect of insta-love (or at least insta-attraction) but I thought it ended up developing at a nice pace. There are a few different guys in the story who all feature at some point as ‘love interests’, which I’m not usually a fan of but I thought it really worked considering the mystery of SN that was at the centre of the story. The romance was extremely adorable and if you’re looking for a feel-good contemporary read, this one is perfect because it is not only super cute but also really fast-paced.
3. Family and friendship elements
I really liked the balance between romantic elements and family/friendship elements. I thought the side characters were really great and they made me want to know their story. In the background of everything that is happening with Jessie at her new school is a story of grief. Jessie lost her mother to cancer 2 years ago and is still struggling to come to terms with the fact that not only is her mother not coming back, but also that her father has eloped with someone he met on the internet and moved them across the country. I really enjoyed watching Jessie learn to get along with her flamboyant and pretentious stepbrother, and slowly accept her stepmother. But I particularly appreciated Jessie’s fractured relationship with her father and her feelings of displacement and abandonment. I also really liked seeing Jessie’s friendship with her best friend back in Chicago, and watching her develop new friendships with students at her new high school.
Overall, I felt that Tell Me Three Things was a really great story about family, friendship, grief and romance. There were some coming of age elements that I really enjoyed and I thought the romance was super sweet and made the story very captivating to read.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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