BOOK REVIEW: You Say It First by Katie Cotugno

He makes me think about stuff differently. When I’m talking to him, it feels like I can kind of imagine the future, you know? And not even a future with him, necessarily – but, like, a future for myself.

My synopsis: Meg from Philadelphia and Colby from Ohio – two young people on two very different paths. When one phone call leads to another then another, the two realizes their connection may be worth beyond just a series of phone calls.

Published June 16, 2020 by HarperCollins [Balzer + Bray]

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Themes: politics, activism, feminism, human connection, friendship, long-distance friendship, social status, suicide, grief, divorce, apathy, family, expectations, hope, plans, future

Amazon* | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*As an Amazon Associate, I get a mini % of sales price every time you use my link to make a purchase. Thank you! ^_^

To be honest, the pastel tones making up the color palette of the cover is what first attracted me to You Say It First, but much like its characters, the book is certainly more than just a pretty face.

Surprisingly political and intellectual, and fraught with heavy themes, You Say It First is not the lighthearted read I expected to find. The often heated discussions between Meg and Colby felt natural and unrestrained – a definite plus on the dynamics between the two. To each other, they voiced out opinions, thoughts, and feelings that weren’t necessarily hashed out even inside their own heads and thus left unsaid to everyone else.

Colby: I know you had a sucky night; I’m not trying to fight with you. I’m just playing devil’s advocate; you know that.

Meg: Oh, come on. The devil can advocate for himself, don’t you think?

Meg and Colby formed an unlikely bond, considering their differing backgrounds. I enjoyed how they challenged each other, one often playing the devil’s advocate to the other. Although their outlook differ greatly on the surface, they found in each other what both ultimately craved: attention.

Everyone wants attention.

I found myself completely taken in while reading the conversations between Meg and Colby. Their discussions are thought-provoking without being contrived.

What makes up the outstanding rapport between these two characters is that the author took the time to develop a believable background for both that provides a sort of lens for the readers to understand where Meg and Colby are coming from – their motivations, so to say. Meg’s seeming indecision, her avoidance of conflict. Colby’s apathy and cynicism.

She didn’t like this version of herself, the one who was too afraid to tell her friends when they were being sort of dickish for fear of starting an argument. The one who held a little bit of herself back all the time.

Nobody’s calling you a moron. Least of all me. I just…think the prescription on your rose-colored glasses is very strong to think that’s an effective use of your time.

There are so many things I can talk about, but I think these two characters can speak for themselves – whether you want to know more about them or not is something only you will be able to determine, with this type of read.

Overall, although generally more serious in tone, You Say It First is not at all lacking in endearing moments or charming characters. More than it is about a long-distance romance, it is about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, reaching out to that last hope you’ve given up on finding, and discovering that when you least expect it, there comes “that stupid headlamp glowing like a beacon calling you home.”

Thank you HarperCollins for my review copy!

And thank YOU for reading!

Have you read You Say It First? What did you think?

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