Call It What You Want
By Brigid Kemmerer
Published June 25, 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
After reading A Curse So Dark and Lonely earlier this year, I wanted to try out other books by Brigid Kemmerer. Her newest release, Call It What You Want, is a contemporary, so it’s quite different from A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which was a fantasy-based retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I really enjoyed it. It falls into my favorite contemporary subgenre, messy misfits making out.
Rob used to be the king of the school. Then his financial advisor father embezzled money from half of the town, and Rob became persona non grata because everyone assumes that he was in on the embezzlement scheme because he interned at his dad’s office (I understand people’s ability to assume the worst, but does anyone really think a 17-year-old would be a good partner-in-crime for an elaborate financial scheme?). Maegan is also an outcast because she cheated on her SATs, which meant that everyone who took them with her had their scores invalidated. The two are brought together when they have to pair up on a calculus assignment because no one else wants to work with them.
Rob and Maegan both have a lot of stress in their lives. Rob’s father tried to kill himself, but he survived the attempt and now requires round-the-clock care, which Rob and his mother have to handle. Maegan’s parents don’t trust her anymore, and her sister has just arrived home from college, pregnant and in danger of losing her athletic scholarship.
I really liked both Rob and Maegan. Rob is in a terrible position through no fault of his own. He’s just trying to keep his head down and get through senior year, even though everyone is really awful to him. He makes some not so great choices, but they make sense, given everything he’s going through. Maegan made a mistake, and now she wonders if she can ever live it down. They both have walls up, and initially, having to work on the project together doesn’t go well. But as they let their guard down and get to know each, a bond grows.
I found this book really engrossing, I loved the growing closeness between the two main characters, and I was dying to know how it would all work out. My only complaint (and it’s a minor one) is that everything wrapped up a bit too quickly. There was a lot of buildup to the climax, and then it was over and there was just a short epilogue. I would have liked a little more.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.