My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: Really liked it
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (Spoiler-free):
“In the Venn diagram of my life, my imagined personality and my real personality have never converged. Over email and text, though, I am given those few additional beats I need to be the better, edited version of myself.”
Three things about Tell Me Three Things:
(1) It is cute and fluffy and adorable and I am quite possibly in love with it and its’ characters.
(2) It has a penpal romance and penpal romances are what I now crave most. Like chocolate.
(3) It has made me want to use the verb ‘waffle’ in daily conversation from now on.
Ok, I did actually really, enormously enjoyed this book, so I definitely need more than just three quick points to express my love. But hey, at least you already have an idea, right?
First of all, as I said, Tell Me Three Things is super cute and adorable and will make you laugh and swoon quite regularly. BUT. That’s not all. It actually deals with quite a few harder topics, such as grief, change, addiction and peer pressure. And I loved the way all of these things were balanced so nicely and how in the end, it was still so easy to read.
The characters in this are actually all well-developed and multidimensional characters (other than a few exceptions). I loved following Jessie because she felt so real, relatable and just like an actual 16-year old girl. She was fun and brave and self-confident in her own way. Not to mention, she’s an actual bookworm, so hey, kudos for that! I also loved getting to know all the secondary characters like SN, Scarlet, Dri, Agnes, Theo, Ethan, Liam and even Caleb. Though they may have all started off as feeling a bit stereotypical, they all quickly broke their molds and became their own characters. Other than the typical mean-girl stereotype, most characters were multidimensional and real.
What I must gush about the most though, is the penpal romance trope. Tell Me Three Things is now the third penpal romance book I read in a year and it has proven to me that I am a complete sucker for this trope. Maybe because I completely relate to being able to better express thoughts and feeling in written form. Maybe because when I was a young adult, I had a pen pal myself (Though I was a chicken and never met mine irl. But I digress…) Anyhow, I just adore penpal romances. Seeing two people spill their secrets, thoughts and feelings to eachother and slowly get to know eachother from the inside out… yep, it gets me every time. And it did again in Tell Me Three Things. The conversations between Jessie and SN were what I looked forward to most of all. They were so cute and funny and smart. I swooned together with Jessie and I speculated about SN’s identity with her (Though I kind of figured it out waay before her. But that didn’t take away from the magic one bit.)
Other things I loved about this:
– Friendships! There’s a lot of focus on friendships and it didn’t shy away from the good and the bad and I loved how realistic it all felt.
– Bookworms! There are lots of bookish references and a cool bookstore where I wouldn’t mind working myself.
– Word nerds! (I actually learned quite a few new words myself. Such as ‘to waffle’, which means to talk or write a lot without giving any clear answers. Which I am great at, if I do say so myself…)
– Music love! I wish Oville was real band because I want to hear their songs myself.
– Theo! Jessie’s stepbrother went from being a jerk to one of my favorite characters.
Things I love just a little less:
– It felt too short. I could have used more. A little epilogue wouldn’t have hurt for example. Also, just needed more Jessie/SN conversations.
– Could have used just a little more parents. Jessie’s dad had a few big scenes, but the stepmother felt sorely underused.
– The depiction of LA/California felt really stereotypical. I don’t live there myself, but really? Is it that shallow?
Overall, I highly enjoyed this and would recommend to anyone looking to read an adorable and fun YA contemporary. If you’re like me and have any love for penpal romance tropes, then I think this will definitely satisfy your craving.
“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”
“He’s more like me, I think: burdened with the realization that what goes on his mind is somehow different from what goes on everyone else’s. Even those close to us. And how you can’t think about that for too long, because that thought- the truth of your own isolation- is too much to bear.”
“There’s nothing lonelier than a hand on glass. Maybe because it’s so rarely reciprocated.”
“Not knowing the right thing to do is not an excuse for not doing anything.”