Saturday, August 20, 2016

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern


Rating: WARTY!

If I'd paid attention to the blurb, I would never have read (or more accurately, listened to) this novel. The blurb on Goodreads begins, "John Green's The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park." They quite evidently have no idea whatsoever how that prospect would turn my stomach. I detest John Green's novels, and thought that Rowell's Fangirl was a truly sad disaster.

This novel, OTOH, has no relationship whatsoever to any of those pretentious and flatulent piles of drivel. I don't get why Big Publishing™ is so intent upon demeaning their authors by rendering them into clones of other authors. How insulting can you get? This is why I self-publish, and that may rob me of a few advantages, but anything is better than putting up with that crap - with having insulting and misleading blurbs that treat readers like morons, and having someone else effectively own your property at least in terms of how it's presented to the public. Screw that for a game of tin soldiers!

This novel stands apart from those others in many ways, and I did like Rebecca Lowman's narration (refreshingly this was not a first person PoV disaster) but in the end, it proved to be no better that he volumes to which it's been compared. I think the author's problem was that she could not make up her mind what the hell kind of a story to write, and tried to make it all things to all people. As such it was a serious fail and ended-up ill-serving her original purpose, which evidently was to show that people with disabilities are really just like the rest of us. Well duhh! The problem with her approach was that instead of showing us two challenged people who were otherwise just like the rest of us, she chose to show us two people who were really, in the final analysis, jerks. They were unlikable, irresponsible, clueless and ill-fitted to decent sociable society. Ironically, it frequently seemed like they were made for each other

Matthew is in many ways worse off than Amy. He has a richness to his OCD that's worthy of Howard Hughes, intent upon a disturbing level of personal hygiene and an inexplicably paradoxical compulsion to touch and count things he passes. The saddest thing about his condition isn't that he has it, it's that he's had it in this school system for years and no one has offered him a lick of help for it. The teachers in the school are quite obviously morons who ought to be fired. Matthew's mother is hardly better. That was one of the problems - the novel takes place in a bubble formed by Matthew and Amy, like the rest of the world doesn't exist. Absurd!

Matthew finally does get a species of help in the form of Amy, who has the questionable idea of hiring fellow students to be her companions at school in place of her regular adult companion/facilitator. This leads to her opening up and living a life quite unlike she has before, and it also brings herself and Matthew into regimented proximity. That's not to say it's all plain sailing, though; much of it is painful and ailing.

This idea of using fellow students gets her what she wants in terms of making 'friends' although the value of the friendship is highly dubious, but as other reviewers have pointed out, the author fails to explain how these people substitute for her adult aides who did a heck of a lot more for her in terms of caring and personal hygiene than ever the students do. It's like the messy little bits are swept under the carpet, but it really wasn't that which bothered me. It was that the real dysfunction of these two characters wasn't OCD or cerebral palsy (what an awfully antiquated name that is! Can medical science not do better than that to describe this condition?). The real dysfunction here was that both Matthew and Amy were unlikable jerks who treated each other shabbily on Matthew's part and appallingly on Amy's. And this is a romance? No!

The latter honestly did not deserve anyone like Matthew who, as mis-focused as he was at times, at least wanted to help her. She just used him, and despite the author telling us repeatedly how smart Amy was, what she showed us all-too-often was what a complete dumbass Amy was. I didn't like either of these characters and gave up on a novel that had started out so well and then fell apart. I cannot recommend this.


2 comments:

Please keep comments respectful and polite; trolling, abusive, and hateful comments will be deleted summarily. Constructive criticism, insightful contributions, and humorous observations are always welcome!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.