Sunday, January 3, 2016

ARC Review: How To Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publishing Date: August 4th, 2015
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 240 pgs
ISBN: 9781250063595
Source: received at blogger meetup in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

My Review:

I had not heard much about this book before receiving it in a goody bag at the Ottawa blogger meet up last year. Swoon Reads is an imprint of MacMillan which takes submissions from people and then the general public can read these novels and pick which ones get published. It is an interactive way to get books into the hands of readers and into bookstores. When I read the premise of this book I knew I had to read it. The book is about Jordyn who is your typical teenage girl trying to muddle her way through high school. What no one really knows though is that she has a brother who is on the autism spectrum. Her brother goes to a special needs school and when his school is closed he must attend the same school as his sister for a short period of time. This is terrifying for Jordyn because she worries about what this means for her and the way people perceive her. 

Any book that has any character with a disability is a book that I will likely read. I spent many years working with children and adults with a variety of different disabilities. I have worked with people who exclusively have a physical disability and I have worked with people who have cognitive disabilities as well. I have spent countless hours working with children and teens who are on the autism spectrum as well. That being said, I was curious to see how they would portray this in this novel. It's not often that disability is portrayed in stories and when it is I often find myself shaking my head and thinking that this is not the reality of those living with disability. I think Cozzo does an amazing job of realistically writing about disability.  Cozzo doesn't try to sugarcoat things and she writes in such a raw and real way. 

Some people had a hard time understanding Jordyn's motives behind ignoring her brother at school and pretending like she didn't know him. She also doesn't allow any of her friends at her house and doesn't tell them that she has a brother. I have seen first hand what it's like for siblings in families where there is a child with special needs. Oftentimes depending on the severity of the disability, the child with a disability takes up so much of the family's energy that siblings can get lost in the shuffle. It seems to me like Jordyn wanted something for herself and didn't want her brother to overshadow her. While I can understand this it doesn't mean that I didn't find myself yelling at her. I wanted her to just tell the truth so that she didn't lose everything. 

This book is so heartwarming. The journey that Jordyn has to take to get to a point where she is comfortable with the idea of love and expressing that love. The love she has for her brother may not ever be the same as other people experience but at the same time it has taught her so much more about love. At the end of the book, I found myself bawling. My husband had to come in and ask me what was wrong with me. I just  kept uttering "That was so beautiful". Non-bookish people just don't get it. :) Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes YA and books about family dynamics. 

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