Book Review: How To Say I Love You Out Loud
ashley | Is it finally time for me to give up reading YA books? The first character description in Karole Cozzo’s How To Say I Love You Out Loud compared someone to actress Bella Thorne, who I had to Google. She has quite the resume, but she is not a household name for my 30+ self and the physical comparison was lost on me. Daunting as that was, I had read a few great reviews of this book and pressed on, my pride tucked sheepishly between my legs.
Jordyn’s elite new private school, Valley Forge, sounds like every stereotypical rich kid Gossip-Girl high school you can picture, full of ambitious, driven, popular, snobby students with designer shoes. Sorry, designer flip flops. I would not fit in at this school. But neither does Jordyn. Not really. She tries to camouflage herself among the hordes of students, but it’s clear from the start that she has a bit of a different mindset and frankly, she’s the only reason I was able to keep reading. I liked her. I liked her cautious stance in her superficial world. I wanted to see her break free of that and embrace who she really was.
That’s where the high school fluff of this novel ends and the reality of Jordyn’s home life comes into frame. Her brother, Phillip, is autistic and the relationship between the two is heartbreaking. Obviously there’s a deep love there between siblings, but dealing with an autistic brother is a lot of stress and how Cozzo brings this to life is very moving. It would be too easy to hold Jordyn’s anger and frustration against her, it’s all so realistic and cuts very deep, you don’t really need to imagine what it must be like, her feelings stretch right off the page. This book quickly becomes very emotive and powerful, not what you would expect after the opening few chapters.
It made me so sad that Jordyn felt she had to hide her brother from her friends, that she had to keep her home life so very separate from who she was at school. I understand how cruel kids can be, how opening herself up like that opens herself up to judgements and ridicule, but man, what kind of world are we living in when things completely out of control are held against us? Reading her inner struggles, her anxiety, her fears, I just wanted to hug this poor, poor girl and tell her that everything was going to be okay.
Of course, there’s a romance aspect to this novel that occupies Jordyn’s personal life and adds some drama at school. But this aspect isn’t overwhelming and is actually a really great addition. Instead of trying to overcome certain issues to be what she wants for this guy, Jordyn steps back from everything and focuses on what she needs for HERSELF to feel good, before she can ever think of opening herself up to someone else. I loved this.
All I wanted through this whole book was for Jordyn to finally see that not everyone around her would be out to get her, not everyone would hold her brother against her. And when she finally realizes this and finally admits to loving him out loud, it’s a very emotional and moving scene. It plays out kind of like those epic turning points in feel good movies, Jordyn throwing down all her guards and finally being proud of who she is and who her family is. Makes you want to cheer!
August 4, 2015