Diversity, Fiction, Loved-it

Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik A wonderful #diverse book about siblings, trust and friendship

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★★★★✮  4.5 stars

If you read my blog, you probably know that I choose YA books quite rarely. I mean, the premise has to be pretty special for me to do it.

But this one just had it.

And I wasn’t wrong.

How can I sum this book up? It brought me all sorts of emotions from the very first page. Very readable, very relatable – even though you might not have quite the life the main character has.

In short? Chloe is quite a popular teen. You’d easily mix her up with those air-headed dolls who are most commonly popular, she even has the hot jock boyfriend to prove it. But it’s not quite like that. Because although Chloe comes across as such, and maybe tries to pose as one, she has a big soul. It’s mostly because she has a sister she’s quite close to – Ivy. And Ivy is on the autistic spectrum. With a sister that’s quite different from everyone else, Chloe has to be a special human being herself. Because first of all, it’s not easy to be close to someone like that. Second, taking care of Ivy and making her life better is no easy task and demands a lot of care and attention on Chloe’s part.

Noticing that Ivy’s lonely, Chloe sets out on a quite crazy escapade – trying to set her up with one of her (also autistic) classmates. As she has to take and accompany Ivy on her dates, Chloe ends up being put together with Ethan’s (the date’s) brother, who just so happens to be Chloe’s most hated classmate.

All of this really does sound like a simple YA romance, doesn’t it?

Except it’s not.

Let me bring out some of the points I loved best:

  1. Such great representation of autism. I loved getting to know Ivy and Ethan. Having only had limited and quite negative contact in the past, I can’t say I thought of autistic people too well. This book gave me a new perspective. Told me what it’s all about. Showed me that as strangers, we can only ever see the bad sides, because you pretty much have to be a VIP to see the good sides, they’re not for everybody. More than that – it helped me understand that autistic people are not oblivious (we tend to think that a lot, don’t we?) They do know they’re different. It hurts them if we don’t treat them with respect – with respect to who they are – different, but still human, still warm and loving, breathing and understanding.
  2. The book is more diverse than it seems already! If I say anything more, I’ll spoil. But let’s just say you might be surprised. And again, tough situation – great representation. I was impressed.
  3. The main running themes are friendship, sister/brotherhood, tough family situations, understanding different people. Those are all such very good themes.
  4. So it’s in-part about teen romance. But the romance is so totally backseat, it won’t bother you even if you’re like me and tend to avoid reading about it.

If you’re still not convinced, have a quote:

“You know, if we were pushing our siblings in wheelchairs, people would be nice to them and to us. They’d be like, Oh, the poor handicapped people and their wonderful siblings! Let’s hold doors for them! But Ivy and Ethan… they basically look like everyone else, with just these tiny differences in how they behave and move. And that bugs people.”

To sum it up, I’m glad I picked up this YA book. This is the good kind (I have had my experiences with too many bad YA books in the past). Books like this SHOULD be read by teens, the more the better. Books like this educate them in a very accessible way.

I am very thankful to Claire LaZebnik and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for giving me a copy of this book prior to it being published (opinions are not influenced by this and are my own). This was a really great read and I truly recommend it. You can grab it here on Book Depository if you’re interested.

Have you read or heard of Things I Should Have Known? Do you like reading diverse books like that? And have you any similar recs?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

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Nathan (@reviewbarn)
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Great review. I also stay away from most YA but have made exceptions AND had some of my favorites come from the field. I love the Nemesis GIF, where did you find that one?

anna @ herding cats & burning soup
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Interesting on the autism inclusion. You don’t see that often. One of my favorite series starts out with a book where the hero has Aspergers and it was just fascinating seeing things from his perspective.

Brian Joseph
Guest

Great commentary on this book.

I think that there are great books in every genre. That includes YA.

This does sound unique and worthwhile.

Ashley
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I haven’t read this one before but it sounds really interesting! I love the premise behind it! Might just have to check it out.

Danya @ Fine Print
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I don’t often read YA contemporary these days either, but you’ve totally sold me on this one Evelina! Representations of autism can be really hit or miss, so it’s great to hear that it’s done well in this one…and you’ve got me intrigued about the other types of diversity as well!

Cristina from ShoeTease
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I want to check this book out! YA books can often surprise (in a good way). I haven’t read any in a while, but would love to read this one which seems to steer clear of the usual clichés. I love how you review your books and highlight the main points, btw! Perfect for the girl on the go like me. And the Nemesis GIF had me literally LOL’ing!

xo Cristina

Ksenia @ Something Delicate
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Hi, Evelina! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving your lovely comments! I’m so sorry it took me so long to answer and visit your blog. I’m currently taking my PhD program and it takes almost all my spare time. Anyway, I really like your blog. You have a new follower here, though I’m not sure I’ll be a regular visitor. I’ll try, but it looks like my blogging time will be limited until summer. I mostly read contemporary, but this book went under my radar (probably as a result of my current somewhat MIA status). Thanks for… Read more »
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
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Sorry it took me until now to come read your review. I need a way to stay on top of comment son my older posts! I JUST saw your comment on my review and came to check LOL Such Dory blog I have. just like me 🙂 funny I wanted to talk about the other “diverse” part of the book too but I didn’t want to spoil it either 🙂 I agree that this book also challenges the preconception that all popular pretty girls are selfish and shallow. 🙂 Another reason to love this book to pieces 🙂

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
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I used to get notifications but I disable them because I thought They were “not helpful and just cluttered my inbox” [rolling my eyes at myself now:] because when I got the notification I never had the time to go reply to the comments. So, now I go through ALL of them to make sure I replied and of course I miss some LOL

Big sis
Guest

Sounds like an interesting book for my teen to read. I’ll have to recommend it to him based on your review. Thanks!

Fanna
Guest

Gotta read this book asap! I mean, you recommending and me not reading? That’s a shame 😀

While the whole autistic representation is drawing me in, I’m all the more excited for the sibling connection being praised about. It’s always nice to read about a sibling relationship that’s genuine and most YA books (God knows why?!) shows the whole can’t-bear-the-other-one-even-for-a-second aspect between sibling, which is annoying.