Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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Title: Tell Me Three Things
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: April 5th 2016 

      “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 hightailing it 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 since 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 her 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 lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

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“I never asked her. Why didn’t I ask her? One of the worst parts about someone dying is thinking back to all those times you didn’t ask the right questions, all those times you stupidly assumed you’d have all the time in the world. And this too: how all the time feels like not much time at all. What’s left feels like something manufactured. The overexposed ghosts of memories.

Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things is a contemporary novel that begs to be read, with a mystery at its center and a girl still trying to recover from her mother’s passing. Moving across the county to L.A. from Chicago is quite the culture shock for Jessie Holmes. She already feels out of place in her new house with her father’s new wife and her son, but at her new school, where friendly faces are almost nonexistent, Jessie begins to feel very much alone. When a mysterious email arrives in her inbox from someone calling themselves Somebody Nobody, she’d like to dismiss the whole thing as some kind of prank, but life isn’t getting an easier and talking to someone like SN, who gets how hard it’s been for her to adjust, feels promising in a year full of disappointments.

A lot of the story focuses on Jessie’s home life. Though it’s been two years since her mother died, Jessie still feels the loss every day. It’s difficult for her to understand her father’s choice in a new wife, one wholly unlike her father and more especially, unlike her mother. There is a lot of tension between Jessie and her father, their relationship strains with this new move and neither realizes the full impact the change has had on the other. Jessie’s new stepmother Rachel and stepbrother Theo are also trying to figure out how all the pieces of this new family fit together. Not all the issues between these four characters are resolved by the end of the novel, but they do take those necessary steps needed on their way to figuring out how to blend two different families together.

There are many characters that Jessie grows close to over the course of the novel. I don’t want to give too much away, as a lot of the fun from reading this novel comes from trying to figure out, along with Jessie, who her mysterious penpal is. I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of this online relationship as well as the friendships she builds with her peers. Aside from a couple of characters, Buxbaum really takes the time to show readers that many of the people Jessie meets are more than her first impression of them. Even her best friend Scarlett has a chance to be more than the cliché best friend who only makes an appearance when the protagonist is in need of a word of advice.

With a number of laugh-out-loud moments, awkward scenes that will have you cringing from secondhand embarrassment, and an ending that feels truly satisfying, Tell Me Three Things is a book you don’t want to miss.

Rating: 4/5



27 thoughts on “Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

  1. Huh, so I’ve seen this book around instagram often and at first thought it was non-fic. I have no idea why. XD But for some reason that’s what I thought when I saw the cover. I’m not very good with contemporary books; I usually end up DNFing them. But you’ve made me curious about this one. It sounds like it takes a realistic approach to life and family relationships. It sounds interesting. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t been big on contemporary books for years, but I was in this weird mood in May and just started devouring them. Now I can’t stop! This was one of my favorites of the contemporary reads I picked up this summer, so I hope you get a chance to read it. Thank you!


  2. This reminded me of that very sad part in The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants during which the Hispanic daughter watched as her white dad take on a white wife with beautiful white children. I’m not sure if it’s the same in the book, but the movie made me sad, like the girl some love child when her dad dared to date a POC.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What do you think the cover means with the heart-shaped waffles. I would never have made the connection from cover to synopsis to your review. I really liked how you’ve discussed the importance of family dynamics in this novel. And this S/N penpal is soooo intriguing! And, who’s dying (quote)?! Great review, Alicia.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Friday 56: Tell Me Three Things | A Kernel of Nonsense

  5. Pingback: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | A Kernel of Nonsense

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