You say it First by Katie Cotungo, #117 review

Publication date: 16 June 2020

Meg has her entire life set up perfectly: her boyfriend Mason is sweet and supportive, she and her best friend Emily plan to head to Cornell together in the fall, and she even finds time to clock shifts phonebanking at a voter registration call center in her Philadelphia suburb. But everything changes when one of those calls connects her to a stranger from small-town Ohio, who gets under her skin from the moment he picks up the phone.

Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job—unsure what his future holds, or if he even cares. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.

But things don’t end there.…

That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?

You Say It First is a propulsive, layered novel about how sometimes the person who has the least in common with us can be the one who changes us most.

When I saw “You say it First” on Netgalley, I knew I have to get my hands on this book! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, it screams classic YA contemporary romance. As the saying goes, do not judge a book by its cover. Alas, that’s what I did.

Meg is a political activist living in the suburbs of Philly. She is fierce about her opinion and at times it makes her snobby and self-righteous. She works part-time as a phone banker, calling people to encourage them to vote and guide them to register to vote.

Colby is stuck. After graduating High School in his small old-timey town without a plan or idea for his future, he has hit a wall. Since his father’s suicide, he is spiralling like a dog chasing his own tail. He is getting nowhere, working a dead-end job he is not passionate about, arguing with his brother and simply not caring.

When Meg calls Colby to ask him if he registered to vote in the upcoming election, they got into a fight. And it is with that firecracker, their story begins. I’ll be honest, I don’t like their relationship at all. I didn’t like how it started and how it went. It felt as though they had no chemistry and there was pure friendship only. It felt more like a platonic best buds kinda thing to me. Through their endless phone calls and texts, they suddenly fell for each other without actually meet before. Not even on a video call. It was all too sudden for me.

I did like that the author took the bold road with Meg and Colby. Putting two polar opposites together and shoving attraction away from the falling-in-love equation. Since attraction plays a huge influence in meet-cute, love at first sight, first date, a glance at a stranger, basically almost all troupes. I really appreciate that for Meg and Colby, the author wrote their attraction to be each other’s personalities instead of their looks.

They argue a lot, banter, joke and argue more. Colby with a totally different background and life experience was challenging Meg’s bubble of unchecked privilege without being disrespectful. He just calls it as it is. Meg is clever, she is well-read and she is an informative citizen, BUT she is also ignorant when it comes to the lives of others outside her small middle/upper-class bubble. That makes her overly judgemental and annoying to me. I didn’t really care for her ignorance. I do like that she is unafraid to express her views and her challenges to society about feminism. To quote Meg:

“Casual sexism denotes a lack of creativity.”

“Jokes about women are backwards and unfunny”

Those were real girl boss moments for her.

As for Colby, I think if he gets unlost, he would have potential. There is so much angst in him and much of his mental health wasn’t unpacked since his family tragedy. He is holding in a massive amount of emotions that are left to simmer and marinate in his heart. It made him careless with his words with the I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude. Or to put it in his words:

“Nobody can pull the rug out from under you if you decide there isn’t a rug to begin with.”

I didn’t care for him. I did love it when it called out Meg’s bullshit.

To me, this book is not really memorable other than that these two kids are polar opposites that attract or meet in the middle with that small gap between them. It’s like the song “The Middle” was written for Meg and Colby:

Ps, they literally meet in the middle of their long-distance relationship.

Thank you to Times Reads for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This book does spark some interesting topics and controversy with the reviews online. It was fun reading the different perspectives of this book. From what I garner, it is a hit or miss.

Themes: long distance, angst, coming of age, political interest, feminism, rude awakening, online relationship, hit or miss.

Thank you to Times Reads for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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