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Tell Me Three Things Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—A contemporary YA novel about grieving, growing up, and learning how to have confidence in yourself. Saying Jessie's new life is weird would be an understatement—after she loses her mother to cancer, her dad sells their house, moves them across the country to live with the woman he eloped with during a business trip, and enrolls her in an elite private school where everyone makes her feel even more like an outsider. Back home Jessie was comfortable: she had both her parents, a house she loved, and friends. Here she feels lost in a sea of designer clothing, expensive cars, and people who spend their summer vacations in faraway countries. When the teen gets an anonymous email from Somebody/Nobody offering to teach her to navigate this new school's territory, she registers how strange the situation may be but replies anyway. Who is this mysterious Somebody/Nobody (SN for short)? Will trusting SN lead to success—or make her even more of a target for bullies? Readers will find themselves growing with Jessie as she tries to deal with the passing of her mother and become comfortable in her own skin miles away from everything she thought of as home. Buxbaum's debut is hard to put down because of its smooth and captivating text. The addition of virtual conversations through email and chatting adds an exciting plot twist. Casual talk of drinking, drugs, and sex makes this novel more appealing to mature teens. VERDICT A definite purchase for collections where readers enjoy character-driven fiction.—DeHanza Kwong, Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC
"Three Things about this novel: 1. I loved it. 2. No, really, I LOVED it. 3. I wish I could tell every teen to read it. Buxbaum's book sounds, reads, breathes, worries, and soars like real adolescents do." - Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of LEAVING TIME and OFF THE PAGE.
"Here are three things about this book: (1) It's sweet and funny and romantic; (2) the mystery at the heart of the story will keep you turning the pages; (3) I have a feeling you'll be very happy you read it."—Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
"The desire to find out whether Jessie's real-life and virtual crushes are one and the same will keep [readers] turning the pages as quickly as possible."--Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss when life itself means inevitable change."—Kirkus Reviews
"Buxbaum's debut is hard to put down because of its smooth and captivating text. The addition of virtual conversations through email and chatting adds to the exciting plot twist."--SLJ
"Buxbaum adds layered plotlines about grief, family, and the confusion and hardships of growing up, all with a touch of humor and romance. A solid YA debut."--Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
What called me to Tell Me Three Things was the fact that, yes, it's sure to be a cute and fluffy contemporary that's sure to hit the spot. But it also just happens to have a premise with major You've Got Mail elements, and if that's not compelling then I don't know what is. So when the eBook was on super sale I snatched it up, and not too much time later I picked the book (well, my Kindle) up and decided to see if it was as sweet and delicious as three heart-shaped waffles. And it kinda was.
Tell Me Three Things immediately pulled me in--and I mean pulled me in--from page one, which starts right off with Jessie's emails and introduction to Somebody/Nobody, aka SN. SN knows who Jessie is--he or she did, in fact, email her--but Jessie hasn't the faintest clue who SN is, except that he or she goes to her school and can tell that she's lost--and wants to help her find her way. What ensues is a series of correspondences between Jessie and SN that are sweet and funny and honest and utter perfection, and if I'm being completely honest? I would and could read an entire book that's composed entirely of their messages.
But somewhere along the way that great beginning started to wane off. The messages were still present, but the rest of the story wasn't quite as interesting and didn't do as well with piquing my interest. Jessie (unwillingly) moves to California after her widowed father marries another widow, and Jessie gains a rather unexpected new stepmother, stepbrother, and finds herself living in a whole new world. With the exception of SN--whose identity we are kept guessing at (and I was right, thank gosh)--the majority of the secondary characters felt a little flat. They needed just a bit more dimension to really be there and have presence and feel real. (For example, there's a potential love interest and a best friend who just didn't do much for me and they probably should have. There was one particular character who floated my boat, aside from SN. But I won't tell you who, except that he wears like the same thing every day.) I wouldn't say it's a bad thing that the messages were my favorite part, but it's not necessarily a good thing that few things were as interesting.
The real and actual best part of Tell Me Three Things was the ending, which was one of the cutest and most adorable endings ever. I loved and adored it. I just wish everything in this book was on the same cute and fun and sweet level, because instead I'm left with like one really good homemade waffle and a couple frozen waffles that are just okay. I needed parts of the story and the characters to be less like outlines and to be filled in and given dimension so that they'd actually feel like bigger parts of the book. But those messages and that ending and that ship. Ah. So waffle-ful.
I really got a kick out of ‘Tell Me Three Things,’ it weaves poetry, pop culture, and social media neatly into the narrative. Though I did feel like the pacing was somewhat slow. The truth is not a lot happens in this book, however I wasn’t bored by any means. It has that type of quirkiness that I’ve come to like from titles by David Levithan. Imperfect characters, big city sarcasm, and witty dialogue.
The whole SN (Somebody Nobody) thing was a little trite. I liked it having an anonymous person to chat to as a story telling device – a Cinderella story in reverse of sorts, but in a world of social media awareness and predators, something was screaming in the back of my head that our protagonist Jessie was being gullible.
I related to Jessie and got all the feels. I’ve lost a large number of family members in the last three years, and the grief is still raw, so there were times I had to put this book down because I couldn’t breathe. Many of her words rang so true. It’s not something anyone can understand unless it’s happened to them. I related to her quiet bookishness, her nerdiness, but I felt like she should’ve had more of a backbone. Especially when dealing with her Father. I know I would have totally lost it much earlier, and had a major meltdown at his feet and blame him for everything. That’s what grief can do to you. It also makes you numb. Maybe it’s my own experience colouring my views on Jessie and how she handled everything. I wanted her to be a little more prickly, fragile, volatile… maybe to validate how I handled my own grief and loss.
I felt the ‘all the boys fall for the new girl’ thing was a little over done. Whether intended or not. Whether stated or not. It just felt that way; and it annoyed me to no end. But the relationships, be they potential romances or not, were all very cute and adorable. I actually had a lot of fun reading ‘Tell Me Three Things.’
Caleb, Ethan, and Liam felt interchangeable. Like there wasn’t a lot of difference between them. SN had more depth than any of these men. And Jessie objectified them most of the time. Their floppy hair, their piercing eyes… I was waiting for her to discover more.
I also liked how I was kept guessing about the identity of SN. I kept trying to sleuth it out myself – like who would have access to her private contact details (this fact alone which threw me in the wrong direction – and to which I’m still wondering about how SN got them in the first place). Buxbaum does a very good job at swaying opinion from one person to another through Jessie’s narrative. I finished the whole book in a day, even with many rests to pull my emotions back together, it’s a touching contemporary about finding yourself through the loss of a loved one and re-defining what it is when you are You, who is You, who is You.
And I totally mis-guessed who SN was.
The ending was cute.
I guess this book on a whole, although adorkable, had a tone of the uncomfortable. The grief and loss thing, the internet predator issue that was ignored, the feeling lost and out of place… it was hard for me to get engrossed in the romance when these issues were like the elephant in the room. It could have been so much more intense and angsty, but I appreciated the light nature of the narrative - it let me live in the fantasy.
Like I mentioned earlier, I found the pacing a little slow, but the writing style is easy to read and littered with pop culture acronyms (some of which I had to look up) and random references (which I Googled too): all of which I love. It sounds lame, but I always get a kick about learning something new from a book, no matter how obscure the reference. A big two thumbs up from me.
I loved Jessie's relationship and non-relationship with her step family. She is so wonderfully teen-ager-y. I love that she is bullied and we get to watch her deal with it. She gets mad at her dad and acts exactly like a teenager would. She just has so much going for her as a character.
SN is just the cutest. The helpful hints provided at the beginning of their relationship becomes compliments and emotional support. I loved how the author kept us guessing SN's identity until the end. Even though the reader has favorites and so does Jessie, SN could reasonably be one of three people and still make a great story.
Again, this story was just so fantastic.