Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (ARC review)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 336
Song I Played While Reading: Misery by Gwen Stefani
Rating: 5 beautiful and heartbreaking stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that's what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she's thinking about heading back to Chicago, 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. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
It's been barely two years sine her mother's death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and pretentious teenage son.
In a leap of faith- or an act of complete desperation- Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her inline and closest ally. Jessie can't help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved? 

My heart is absolutely bursting with joy right now. Tell Me Three Things is an astonishing novel about love, loss, and navigating your way through high school. But it's not your typical contemporary. At least it wasn't for me, because I swear Jessie is me in a parallel universe. Not telling you three things we share would be just ridiculous, right? So let's do this.

1. We both moved from Chicago to California because of a life-changing incident.
2. She had a close relationship with her mom, as do I.
3. We both love to read.

If she was short and blonde, I would seriously be freaked out that someone was snooping into my life. I completely understood her. Everything she thought and said resembled something that I've thought or said before. She was an old soul; she's seen the darker side of life and knows. I wish I could elaborate on that one word, but that's really all I can say. I think you'll understand if you've gone through something, or even just know that life isn't all fun and games. It can be an awful place. So when you read about someone who is like that, you know they see life the way you do. Jessie was like that for me. She wasn't superficial like some of her horrific classmates (I'll definitely get on that topic later), and watched people. That's something I do a lot, and it really gives you a sense of awareness. It pulls you out of your head, out of whatever conversation you're having with your friends or family, and depending on the topic, it can make you realize how pointless it is. I've always been able to step back and really see things, and think to myself "Why am I wasting my breath on this topic?" or "Why are we even talking about this person? It's... childish." It's often isolating, but I would much rather have this burden on my shoulders, of being older than I appear, than of not having it.
This leads to my next subject, which is of where Jessie moved too: the Valley. Now, I've never lived in the Valley, so maybe I'm judging the people there a little too harshly, or feeling this certain judgement because of what I've seen of LA people, and one person that actually lives in the Valley. My friend, who goes to UCLA (if you ever read this, Natalie, just know that half the book community knows about you because I bring you and yourLA life up way too often and I'm sorry about that) is in a sorority, and as I've mentioned before, it's not my thing. I've always inherently judged it. It's literally second nature for me to back away from anything involving a sorority, or to even scoff at it, which is horrible and so not what I'm like, but SORORITIES GET TO ME. I think it reminds me vaguely of a cult, with the whole greek name and the hand signs everyone does in pictures and the overall vibe I get from it. I'm going to stop myself from typing any more, because I could spew pages and pages of stuff about it and I'm getting way off topic here.
SO. Jessie. The Valley. The people there. Ah! Wait, it just hit me why I was talking about sororities, hello ADD, how ya doin. I associate sororities with girls like Gem (the evil bully in this story), a.k.a. blonde, tan, ridiculously skinny, rich, superficial, bitchy, and materialistic. I also associate LA woman with girls like Gem, which is ridiculous and critical of me, but dammit if I can't help but think that way. So, as you can imagine, going to a school in the Valley would be terrifying for me, and I give major props to Jessie. Everyone is so caught up on the latest fashion trends and who's hooking up with who and how they look that it makes me sad. Why does that stuff matter as much as it does? It shouldn't! It was interesting to see the Valley from someone else's POV, no matter how similar it was to mine.
God, that life lesson always slips in there whenever I talk about LA people and ends up taking way too much space. But I can't bare to delete it.
Now let's talk about my second favorite character: SN. WHY DO I NOT HAVE MY OWN SOMEBODY/NOBODY?? WHY IS LIFE SO CRUEL?? SN was a beautiful character and I knew the whole time who he was, but it took absolutely nothing away from the big reveal. In fact, the big reveal was even more amazing and swoon-worthy than I could have imagined. I got so overwhelmed with love that I burst into tears and ugly cried for a good minute because life, I repeat, is unfair. I always chide myself on not giving a guy a chance just because the texting is awkward, but then I read a conversation like Jessie and SN's and realize that I was right to dump the idiot. With that kind of chemistry and flow, I won't even have to double think talking to the guy. I should write that down to tell my mom the next time she hounds me on not giving the guy "a chance to really know him." Sorry mom, but if we can't have witty/ heartfelt conversations through cellular devices, than I sure as hell can't do it to his face.
I loved the supporting characters, like Theo, Scarlet, Ethan, Jessie's Dad, Rachel, and Di. They were all so adorable and vital to the story. The writing dug deep into my heart and made me cry so many times that I actually said, out loud, "Okay, tHIS IS RIDICULOUS!" while hysterically laughing because I was both in pain but glad for it. The death of Jessie's mother hit hard, not because of any personal experience (*runs around the house aggressively smacking anything that's made of wood*) but because that's one of my biggest fears. I can't, and don't, want to ever imagine my mom dying, yet it happened so may times that, naturally, I cried. A LOT. And now I want to go hug my mom.
This was the easiest 5 stars I've given to a book in 2016, and it's also quite possibly my favorite contemporary ever. Sorry Jandy Nelson, but have you read this book? Joe batting and grinning at me like a total hooplehead can't compare to SN/ my hunch. I CANT BELIEVE I JUST SAID THAT.

"I am as lost and confused and alone as I have ever been. No, high school will never be a time I look back fondly on. My mom once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: the ones who love their high school years and the ones who spend the next decade recovering from them. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, she said.
But something did kill her, and I'm not stronger. So go figure; maybe there's a third kind of person: the one's who never recover from high school at all."

"Thanks," I say. "Sorry about your dad."
"Thanks, I guess. By the way, can you please start eating the food in the kitchen? Gloria keeps bugging me about you. She said all that the ramen is going to make you guapo."
"The ramen is going to make me handsome?"
"Gordo. Gorda. Whatever. It's going to turn you into a big fat fatty fat fatty. All right, my community service is done for the day."
"Wow, still an asshole." I say, but this time I let my smile seep into my voice.

"SN: yeah, fine, I guess. not having the best year.

Me: Know how that goes.

SN: do you? hope you really don't, but suspect you do. you have sad eyes.

Me: I do? And when have you seen my eyes?

SN: I havent. not really. and I mean more your brow. you have a sad brow.

Me: I have no idea what to do with that information. Botox?

SN: and the Chicago girl goes LA. but nope."

"So listen. Sorry about yesterday," Ethan says.
"Why? You didn't do anything," I say, and follow his lead and start eating. He's right: the food is delicious. Cheeseburgers, though the cheese is neither yellow nor processed and probably has a French name I can't pronounce and the burger resembles a burger only in form. Kobe beef, according to the tiny flag stuck in it's center, as if this designation is one small step for man, one giant leap forward for mankind."

"God, I want to touch him, but I wouldn't even know where to begin. What if he doesn't want me to? What if he just needs to occasionally have coffee with a person who didn't know him before? Maybe that's all I am.
I can understand that. The idea of leaving Chicago- of not being surrounded every day by the people who had always known me, who expected me to keep on being the same Jessie they had always known- once seemed like the answer, until it turned out it wasn't."


  1. kjsfhdifuhkjlas i've heard so so so many fantastic things about this book and now I REALLY WANT TO READ IT. and for you to say you enjoyed it better than jandy nelson's book (which is my top contemporary read of the year so far)? yeah, REALLY WANT TO READ THIS. loved reading your review!! xxx alexandra @ twirling pages

    1. YAY! I hope it lives up to the hype for you!!<3

  2. This is such a beautiful review! I love it when you relate to a character so much it feels they are actually you.

  3. I SO want to read this book-- glad you loved it and related to it so hard!! That's always so fun when you find a book that FEELS like you, isn't it? I love that first quote you included-- I can definitely attest that I've spent my fair share of time "Recovering" from my HS years!!

  4. Ahh Tell Me Three Things sounds so cool! And it's awesome that you saw a bit of yourself in the MC - that's just weird but amazing at the same time! :D Thanks...for adding another book to my never ending TBR! xD