What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum – YA Contemporary about Friendship and How NOT to Be Awkward

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Author: Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Random House
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2017
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Goodreads | Wordpress
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Young Adult/Teen
Rating: 4 out of 5

Dreams haunt Kit Lowell. Dreams triggered by the unexpected death of her father. Despite this, every day, she pretends nothing is wrong. She listens to her friend’s petty complaints, goes to school and follows the same routine. Until today. Today she fits at David Drucker’s table. David is weird (or so he tells us), but as Kit sits at his otherwise empty lunch spot, she discovers he’s a “good” weird.

David is different. And he knows it. Boasting an unusual personality, David doesn’t trust anyone. He’s been on the bad end of school pranks one too many times which is why he relies on his elder sister’s “guide book” on who not to trust. Kit Lowell is on the good list. Kit is the girl David has had a crush on for years, and when she asks him to help to make sense of her father’s accident, David readily agrees.

But the answers their project gives may not be what Kit wanted to hear – nor will it cement the friendship that ties them together.

Though contemporary books don’t seem to get the attention that other genres receive, one can argue the genre has been stretching its imagination. A trend I say should be – and I hope is, commended. Most of the results have been beautifully imagined and concluded. The same can be said for What To Say Next. Unique is in its DNA and (for the most part) it all pays off.

Though she reached success with her YA debut (Tell Me Three Things), I had not read a novel by Julie until the opportunity for her sophomore release cropped up. Though I cannot speak to her debut, I will say, I was impressed with what I found inside these pages. The book isn’t a fast mover (plot wise), which is, sadly, a disadvantage. I felt “stuck” in the first fourth or even half of the story. Nothing moved towards the elements mentioned in the synopsis (or the element suggested to be the “big” conclusion), which left this reader confused.

That said, once I fell into the rhythm of the first-person switch off, I really did become invested. David’s brutal honesty won’t appeal to everyone, but he is actually a wonderful character. I found him refreshing and best of all, I love that Kit responds to this honesty. David comes into her life precisely when she most needs him, and it’s that which makes the story work so neatly. Everything falls apart for Kit, and even though her friends remain, none of them quite know how to handle “Kit 2.0.” How David jumps into their friendship and challenges her makes them all the more perfect and good for each other.

Because of the rocky start, I do feel a slight disconnect in places of the story. Nonetheless, I do want to clearly say, I really (really) like this book. It’s smart, witty and a little bit sassy. The ending is ambiguous depending on how you choose to read it. Some will love this because it allows them to write a kind of ending for these characters. Others will find disappointment at conclusion’s end. I’m in the former camp. Though I’ll confess, I was leaning towards the latter, but then a final chapter came up, and a smile again found its way to my face.

Short in its page count, the chapters fly by, but the characters work their way into a reader’s heart. Kit and David are darling, fun and definitely more multifaceted (as individuals and as a twosome) than many of their fictional peers. ♥

SynopsisSometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth? - Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), RissiWrites.com 


  1. Sometimes it does feel like contemporary books fall under the radar of all the awesome fantasy and sci-fi books out there. It can be hard to create something NEW, and FRESH in the contemporary world -- but I've had this one added since I came across it on Goodreads! I haven't read her debut either, although it is on my TBR, I think, but it sounds like this is a book I shall like!

    1. Ditto, Rosie. I so agree. I do hope if you have the chance to read this one, that you enjoy! And if you do, let me know what you think. Her YA debut (Tell Me Three Things) is something I added to my shelf after reading this one because, aww, it's so cute! :)

      Happy reading - and thanks so much for visiting.

  2. Oh this sounds so refreshing! I'll have to check it out! Wonderful review.

    1. It sure is, Erica. Such a unique read, and one that I really enjoyed. :)

  3. Love your review! I definitely want to read this now. I just bought Tell Me Three Things because of the unbelievable price on Amazon, maybe I'll snag a copy of this next. :)

    1. I saw that price too, Bekah - one of those things you tease about and say, "Well, that's so low I can't afford not to snag a copy." ;) My copy was higher than that (DARN!), but still a really good deal, so I'm happy. :)


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