In her first YA book, McGovern succeeds in creating memorably quirky characters and charting the agonizing fits and starts of first love in a romance of “oddballs finding each other”, that will appeal to fans of Eleanor and Park (Rowell, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013) and graduates of Out of My Mind (Draper, Atheneum, 2010).
Amy has Cerebral Palsy and Matthew has been suffering from OCD since his parents’ divorce. For her senior year, Amy has decided she wants peer helpers instead of adult assistants, so that she can learn what being a friend means, and she prompts Matthew to be one of the volunteers after he challenges her self-professed luckiness. They become important friends to each other, and though both would like something more, they don’t know how to say it: Amy is smart and her attempts to tell Matthew how she feels are too veiled, Matthew is just scared of what expressing his feelings will mean.
As they help each other with their different fights for independence – Amy from her fiercely protective mother and also from her body, Matthew from the voice inside his head that controls his actions – the novel charts their maturing, as they discover their voices, as well as realizing and, finally, using the words that matter.
Though the other students are little more than sketches, and the plot takes a dip in the melodrama pool, readers will warm to the central two characters as they take control of their lives.