Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum
Jessie has just started her junior year at an ultra-intimidating LA prep school where she knows no one except her new stepmonster's pretentious teenage son. Just when she's thinking of hightailing it back to Chicago--to her friends who understand she's still grieving the death of her mother--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.
In a leap of faith--or an act of complete desperation, Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline a closest ally. Jessie can't help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
I read this book for the first time over the Summer--almost four months ago--so it's a bit of an understatement to say that my review is looong overdue. (I was planning to review a different middle grade book today, but #lifehappened and I didn't get to finish it in time.)
One of my favorite aspects of Tell Me Three Things was the large cast of side characters. Scarlet, Jessie's home-town best friend is snarky, and supportive and everything I would want in friend. Plus, she uses correct capitalization and punctuation in text messages.
And, there are plenty of new friends at Jessie's new school, too. Ethan, Dri, Liam, Caleb, Theo, and Agnes are all terrific additions to the story. I won't go in too deeply with any of them though, in lieu of giving any spoilers. (Also, I think if I started, gushing about them, I wouldn't be able to stop. :P) So, I'll just say that Julie Buxbaum gave each character his or her own, unique voice in the story.
While I wasn't completely sure I liked the main character, Jessie, at first, she quickly managed to win me over with her love of books and major awkwardness--something I can very much relate to. She also openly talks about why she likes writing so much better than speaking, because with writing, she has time to flesh out a conversation in her head before replying, something I tend to agree with myself.
There was also a lot of character development done on Jessie's part throughout the novel, and I had an awesome time watching her grow. Sort of tying in with the character development, Jessie was such a believable, realistic character. So often in romance book, the main characters are these perfect girls who have, what seems like, an entire fan-club of boys chasing after them. It a welcome change for me to read about a dorky, sarcastic girl who had priorities bigger than finding a boyfriend.
One aspect that many books leave out is food. But one of the things Jessie misses most about her home is the Chicago-style pizza, and the slushy combination she spent an entire summer perfecting. Another little tidbit that isn't super relevant to the plot, but that I adore, is that Jessie's favorite word is waffle, because it's a delicious food, and a synonym for writing.
And while Jessie wasn't an automatic like for me, Somebody/Nobody definitely was. While I am by no means an expert on all things plot-related, I thought that the idea of a stranger emailing her--while albeit a little creepy (which SN admits in the first email)--was something very original.
My only complaint is that it was kind of predictable who SN was. Julie Buxbaum did a good job of including a few different boys and possibilities for SN, but it was pretty clear who it would be in the end--for me, anyhow.
Fair warning--I will say that this book is on the older side of the scale, in terms of reader age. Barnes and Noble gave it an age rating of 12-17, so as long as you're above that age, you should be good. (There are a few mentions of some rather controversial topics.)
This book is perfect for anyone who likes complex character arks, fresh plot ideas, as well as the inclusion of food. (!!!)
You can read an excerpt of Tell Me Three Things HERE and you can find Julie Buxbaum's website HERE