Say What You Will is a quick read with a pair of different, interesting, and lovable characters. For the first half of the book I was enchanted by Amy and Matthew's budding friendship and their slow realization that maybe they could have something more regardless of their respective disabilities. Each challenges and helps the other to step outside of a life defined by disability, and it was touching to see them discover that when you love somebody, they become beautiful to you despite and sometimes even because of the failings of their bodies.
After that, a strange thing happened: Amy couldn't stop her expectations from rising. She imagined herself transformed and beautiful, like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, with her homemade dress and mysterious lace boots. She pictured her hair in an upsweep of loose curls. In the fantasy, her prom face looked like the one she only wore asleep, loose and relaxed. She imagined a photographer asking her to smile and, for the first time in her life, being able to do it.
I felt like I saw where McGovern was headed with her story and liked it, but then came the prom and the whole thing just started coming off the rails for me. What started out as a pleasing slow steady climb of a story quickly took a sudden turn down a roller coaster hill. After a build-up, prom is come and gone within only a chapter bringing with it all kinds of plot points that could have been dug into, but were instead quickly glossed over. Characters started acting, well, out of a character, and what should have been a major plot event zipped by quickly, without the attention it seemed the warrant.
And then, wow. Then there's a plot twist that really came out of left field, and left me feeling pretty disappointed. It's as if, instead of letting the book follow the good and natural progression that she'd started, the author decided that something major had to happen to keep readers turning pages, and that something turned a sweet romance on its head and sent it tumbling into after-school special territory. I wanted to love this book, and the beginning showed all the potential I'd hoped for, but the unnecessary theatrics caused me to disengage from the characters just enough that by the time the payoff came that I'd been waiting for through the whole book, there was no way it could deliver.
(Thanks to HarperTeen for sending me a copy for review.)