Title: You Say It First
Author: Katie Cotugno
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Published: June 16th, 2020 (Balzer + Bray)
Synopsis: Meg has her entire life set up perfectly: her boyfriend Mason is sweet and supportive, she and her best friend Emily plan to head to Cornell together in the fall, and she even finds time to clock shifts phonebanking at a voter registration call center in her Philadelphia suburb. But everything changes when one of those calls connects her to a stranger from small-town Ohio, who gets under her skin from the moment he picks up the phone.
Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job—unsure what his future holds, or if he even cares. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.
But things don’t end there.…
That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?
Thank you to the publisher, Balzer + Bray, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Meg is a high school senior who has always been interested in politics and truly believes in the system, volunteering at various events and working part-time at a voter registration call centre, encouraging people to sign up and vote on election day. One such call connects her to a boy in Ohio who instantly gets under her skin. Colby, who has problems of his own and has been going through a difficult time lately, is not interested in being preached to and ends the conversation rather bluntly. Rather than ending matters there however, Meg, against the rules, reaches out again with an apology and one phone call turns into many more, resulting in a long-distance friendship between two people who couldn’t be more different if they tried.
As I have shared many, many times, contemporary novels rarely make my TBR, and believe me, I’m still surprised I’m reading this book at all. I don’t know what it was about this book though, that I saw it on Edelweiss and just requested it on impulse. Turned out, it was a pretty good decision! This was my first time reading a novel by this author and it has definitely made me curious about her other works. Contemporary has always been a largely frustrating genre for me for two major reasons: books set in present world, in present day just don’t work for me as well as fantasy with all its excitement of discovering something entirely new does. Second, I’m beginning to find younger protagonists to be more annoying in contemporary than in other genres and I get bored with them easily.
But Meg and Colby were such intriguing characters and their world views were so different which allowed for some rather interesting debates between them, even if they did end up arguing over it more often than not. That this was narrated from both their perspectives was a very good choice as it allows us to understand their lives, situations and thoughts on a much better level at a time when they are both going through some difficult times. I was able to relate to Meg quite a bit, as I am also the type to hesitate a lot to voice my opinions in public. I loved how the two of them initially meet and start talking, coming to see each other as someone they can turn to outside their everyday lives to share things they can’t with even their closest friends.
The only thing I found a little odd was the scene where Meg meets Colby’s friends. For someone who actively avoids conflict, going so far as to pretend to be okay about her mom’s alcohol problem and her dad’s moving on after the divorce, her reaction seemed out of character for what we had seen of her at that point, regardless of how she feels about such issues. That and of course, how it just seemed to keep going back and forth between Meg and Colby, arguing, and making up over and over, along with Colby being prejudiced towards her from the beginning, assuming she has a perfect life and grew up lacking nothing. It started to get repetitive after a while and I will admit I started skim reading a little.
I initially thought this would be a fun, light-hearted read, maybe something cute, and while it was definitely enjoyable, I did not expect it to touch as many heavy and serious topics as it did – and handle them so well at that! You Say It First turned out to be an unexpected, but lovely addition to my 2020 shelf. It was a fast paced and engaging read and though the ending is left somewhat open ended, I think there are a lot of young adult readers out there who can appreciate how relatable this book can be.
You Say It First releases on June 16th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!