A YA romantic contemporary that starts with voter registration calls? Sure, why not! I’d never read anything by Katie Cotugno, but I’d seen her name floating around in YA circles, and ultimately, her book You Say It First was a solid 4-star read for me. Not perfect, but enjoyable, and I like that it pushed the YA boundaries when it came to the cursing, the heavy topics, sex, etc. It was kind of like if John Green met Sarah Dessen with a dash of Ellen Hopkins. A meet-cute, family troubles, high school hijinks, etc.
Meg is…relatable, for me, haha. She’s a high-achieving high school senior trying to hold everything together. Her parents are recently divorced, her mom is drinking a lot, but Meg knows her future: her work at WeCount, a voter registration organization, and then off to Cornell. but what if…something else. One day, at WeCount, she ends up calling Ohio and asking for Colby’s father, who is recently deceased (TW: suicide). This phone call goes, shall I say, badly, but it kickstarts a conversation between the two that will leave to late nights, trying new things, driving 8 hours one way, and ultimately, changing their lives in ways they may have never had the courage to do otherwise.
I was initially drawn to this book because of the premise of meeting via a voter registration call, but that slips away pretty quickly, and the relationship definitely takes the front seat, though Meg does stay mildly politically involved a the end, though it’s still not a big plot point on the page. But I didn’t expect this book to deal with weighty issues like suicide, alcoholism, teenagers afraid to fail, learning to speak up for yourself, etc. I really appreciated it, and thought they were handled pretty well. The romance was cute, right? Well…it gave me anxiety at times, because they were so different, but isn’t that what we’re all told dreams are made of? I like that the book ended with a HEA that wasn’t like “marriage and sunshine and babies” but felt…real?
Overall, this book was pretty good. A little more “substance” than a lot of YA romantic contemporary, but you’ve still got that teen angst and emotion to get you through. 4 Stars From Me.