Also by this author: More Than We Can Tell
Published by Bloomsbury YA on June 25, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT Review
Call It What You Want is officially my new favorite novel from Brigid Kemmerer. Kemmerer is a master of creating engaging stories filled with wonderful characters that will tug at your heartstrings, and she really captured my heart with this one.
Call It What You Want follows Rob and Maegan, two teens who have been ostracized by their classmates. Rob’s father got caught embezzling funds from half the town, including the parents of many of his classmates. Many people have wrongly assumed Rob knew exactly what his father was up to and so he has gone from being a popular star athlete at the top of the social food chain down to the bottom rung. Maegan is an academic overachiever but we learn in the opening pages that she has cracked under the pressure of trying to be the best and cheated on her SATs. Not only has Maegan potentially tanked her own chances at college, but she also caused the scores for dozens of her classmates to be invalidated as well. Maegan is no one’s favorite person right now.
When the story opens, Rob and Maegan are both just in survival mode, each trying to lay low and get through the school year drawing as little attention to themselves as possible. When Rob and Maegan get paired up on a project in Calculus class, however, everything changes.
The friendship that blossoms between Rob and Maegan is one of my favorite things about Call It What You Want. I love the way Kemmerer writes unlikely friendships like theirs. She portrays that initial awkwardness of the relationship and then the slow opening up to one another so authentically and so beautifully. I could read books like this from Kemmerer all day every day and never get tired of them.
Another gem of a friendship that appears in the book is between Rob and Owen. Owen is a loner and he’s also poor, so poor that he can’t even afford to buy lunch at school. Owen’s struggles are, in part, due to what Rob’s father did, so a friendship between Owen and Rob seems nearly impossible and yet Kemmerer works her magic and creates yet another amazing friendship for me to smile about. I actually adored Owen’s character so much that I’d love to see him with a book of his own at some point.
Aside from making me smile at the wonderful relationships being forged throughout the story, Kemmerer also puts them into situations that tugged at my heartstrings so hard. I felt tremendous sympathy for Maegan and the mess she has gotten herself into. It felt like one of those situations that any one of us could have found ourselves in back in school. Even more heart-wrenching than Maegan’s situation though is Rob’s. Not only did he not have any idea what his father was up to, but Rob and his mother are stuck dealing with all of the fallout, including taking care of his father, who botched a suicide attempt and is now brain damaged and mostly paralyzed. Rob is also being bullied by his former best friend, so every day is pretty much a living hell for him.
Finally, what makes Call It What You Want my new favorite book from Kemmerer is the fact that she really had me thinking about some tough topics, especially as they pertain to Rob. Rob is desperate to try to fix what his father did and contemplates crossing into morally gray territory to make it happen. It really got me thinking about right and wrong. Can you ever really make something right by committing a wrong? I love a book that can engage me with such important and thought-provoking topics.
Wow, I actually had no intention of writing so much, but the book is just that good! Call It What You Want is a heartfelt and beautifully written story about friendship, overcoming adversity, and making amends. I know Kemmerer’s fans are going to love it, but I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a moving read.
When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.
Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…
This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?