Call It What You Want By Brigid Kemmerer
Format: Paperback, 384 pages.
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: 25th June 2019
When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.
Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…
How did I not know that this book was even coming out! It wasn’t until I wandered into my local last week that I saw it on the table and instantly made a grab for it. It was quite a pleasant surprise, I have to say! What I love about Brigid Kemmerer’s novel is the fact that despite them being romance novels, they do not solely focus on the romance but look at the bigger pictures of each person’s life. She writes about their lives and doesn’t centre the relationship as the end all and all ends. Instead, she gives us a layered narrative about two individuals, their lives, their individual problems as well as the relationship which is probably why I find myself flying through them.
In this novel, we meet Rob and Meagen, both teenagers at high school who are considered social outcasts for different reasons before they are thrown together for a school project. Rob, once at the top of the social ladder is soon toppled to the bottom but not by his own doing, it comes about after the revelation that his father has caused most of the town to lose their hard earned cash. Maegen, cheated on last years SAT test and caused a hundred other people to lose out and have to retake the test themselves and as a result, has become a social pariah. The whole novel how our own mistakes and others have an effect on not only ourselves but for others and whether people deserve a second chance.
Written in a dual narrative, which I enjoy, we see through Rob and Meagen’s interactions in their eyes. We see each of their perspectives on their interactions together but also separately as they live their lives. As a result of falling down the social ladder, Rob is left alone by his once friends which means he has plenty of time to read and goes through books by the stacks. But also means he is thrown further into the career position for his father, who after a failed suicide attempt has been left severely disabled. My heart really went out for Rob here because despite his father’s doing and despite whether or not he was aware of what his father was doing he shouldn’t be getting treated this way. But also, having to become a career without any support is bound to get on top of him, especially since when it gets hard his Mum seems to just walk out.
Meagen considers herself to be a black sheep of her family, that is until her sister comes home from college and it is revealed that she is pregnant. Sworn to secrecy, Meagen knows that most at school wants nothing to do with her so it’s unlikely that the secret will get out. Meagen was a character that I really liked, because despite what others thought she still gave Rob a chance and stood by her sister fiercely. When paired with Rob, their interactions appear unlikely and futile until they seem to connect and able to provide some form of friendship to the other.
What I loved was the growth that these characters go through from the beginning to end but also how their friends and family also begin to grow. I particularly liked the characters of Owen and Mr London, the school librarian, who apart from Meagen actually seem to give Rob a chance. Mr London continues to reach out to Rob through books and attempts to engage him. Despite the fact that Rob’s father has lost all his and his husband’s savings, he doesn’t quite hold it against Rob, who continues to deny his knowledge or involvement in his father’s crimes.
Brigid Kemmerer’s novels never cease to amaze me, how she writes real life and tackles situations. With character-driven plots, I honestly doubt that I will never not love a Brigid Kemmerer book.
Have you read ‘Call it What You Want’ or any of Brigid’s other books? What did you think?