I received this book as an ARC in the mail, and I was unsure at first. I liked the concept of the story, and decided to give it a chance, and I am so glad I did. This book is incredible. It is hard to read and even frustrating at times, not because of the story, but because of what Amy is going through. At times I felt as trapped as Amy. This book is the first I have ever read that expresses, I think accurately, what it is like to be disabled. It is sad yet happy, and serious yet funny. In short, it is brilliant.
Amy is a bright young girl who has cerebral palsy. Matthew is a shy young boy who has a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The two make a surprisingly good pair. They are by no means a perfect pair, and that is seen multiple times throughout the story. However, Matthew is the first to ever question Amy’s cheerful facade, and that immediately draws her to him. He is drawn to her out of curiosity, wondering what is actually join ton in her head.
One of the things I loved about this book was the opportunity to see inside the mind of a person with pretty severe cerebral palsy, as well as one with OCD. The author herself is neither of these things, however she clearly has experience with special needs children. Most of these people are portrayed as excessively happy and seemingly unfazed by the deformations they are affected by. Amy shows the reader that this is not necessarily true. While she does not live in a place of unhappiness and anger with how she is, she is not fully satisfied, and longs for normality. This is evidenced through her pushing to talk about typical teen topics like sex, drugs, alcohol, and boyfriends. Despite the fact that she has cerebral palsy, she still has a very functional and intelligent brain, and is just as interested in these things as normal teenagers. I must admit, I had assumed people affected by disorders like cerebral palsy and downs syndrome never thought about these things, but this book opened my eyes.
I had also never really thought about what it is like inside the mind of a person with a severe case of OCD. After seeing inside Matthew’s head, my eyes are opened. It is an incredibly hard life to live. In fact, I would say he was just as disabled as Amy, though his condition is easier to fix. They are both hurting and misunderstood by the world, but they understand each other. That is what makes their relationship important. They don’t see the imperfections in each other, as the world does, instead they see the good, and if that doesn’t sound like love to you then I don’t know what does.
This book gave me an entirely new view on people with disabilities, and I am forever grateful to Cammie McGovern for putting a book like this out there for young adults like myself to read. Among the sea of mindless paranormal romances, and cliche high school popularity stories, this is a story of not only love in its truest form, but also never giving up, and finding the strength to be independent, no matter how your body or your mind may hold you back. Amy is an amazing role model for any young girl, disabled or not. She overcame her situation and looked at the world optimistically. Matthew sought help when he knew he could no longer keep going on his own, which is an important message for any teenager struggling with OCD, depression, anxiety, etc. Seek help, you will only thank yourself.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a life changing read. Yes, it is hard to read at times, but that’s part of what makes this book so special.
Say What You Will was released on June 3, 2014.