book review

Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

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Release Date: March 28, 2017

From the author of Epic Fail comes the story of Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy.

Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

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*ARC courtesy of the publisher–HMH Books for Young Readers (thank you!)–via NetGalley

Few minutes after I post my TBR list, I received a copy of Things I Should Have Known. Ignoring my list, I immediately devoured Miss LaZebnik’s new offering. And what can I say? I totally love it! And so is the cover.

Things I Should Have Known is a heartwarming contemporary YA romance with Chloe Mitchell as the main character. A 17-year-old girl who despite the family issues, dead father, needy mother, a sister who struggles to communicate, and probing stepfather, Chloe is doing perfectly well academically. She is pretty, has the most good-looking guy at school as her boyfriend, and even don’t have to fuss about her social standing. In short, she doesn’t have much to worry about. Only, that is not true. There is one thing, or person rather, she constantly worries on. Ivy, her 20-year-old sister who’s diagnosed with autism at an early age. And now, Chloe thinks that her sister could use a boyfriend since she’s giving off the vibe of having romantic urges. It is not going to be easy to find someone on the same spectrum as Ivy, though. But luckily, her sister is in the same special needs class with Ethan Fields, a sweet-natured boy, who has an unhealthy obsession with movies. She then gets her matchmaking skills on the move and set up a date for Ivy and Ethan. Only, since her sister is clueless with dating and everything to do with socializing, Chloe have to be Ivy’s chaperon for the date (and every date that ensue). She then learned that Ethan is David Field’s brother, the one person she can’t stand at school. He’s weird, sarcastic, sometimes bordering on being rude, lack social skills and looks blandly forgettable. They may not like each other but they need to forget that for a while for their siblings sake. What Chloe didn’t expect is that David isn’t so bad. Add to that the fact that he’s the only person she knows who understand her given that they have the same situation. As they are getting closer to each other, will it be the same for Ethan and Ivy, though? Will being in the same spectrum enough for them to feel something more than friends towards each other? That and more are the things that will pique your interest in this novel.

Things I Should Have Known is not the first novel I’ve read from Claire LaZebnik. I totally love Epic Fail. But this one is so much different from that. This new book veers away from your usual YA butterflies-in-the-stomach-love-story as Miss LaZebnik focused on issues that most writers will not normally touch: autism added with homosexuality. It takes a lot of courage for a writer to do that, especially in YA, as most people are uncomfortable with the issue but not only did she step up on this one. She did a great job in showing what it is like living with someone with autism. It is not surprising since she has personal experience with autism which is visible in the book. That being said, it makes the good story realistic.

The characters are engaging and relatable that I feel like they are real life person living somewhere in LA. One thing I really like is the good character development, not only for the main character but also for the supporting characters. It is nice to read something where the author took the time to develop her characters and not just tell a story.

My heart goes out to Chloe and David as they try to control their temper with people’s reaction towards their siblings. I can feel how frustrating it is for them to help their siblings live a normal life yet people around them treat them differently. It is heartbreaking and I know it happens a lot of time. I haven’t experienced it yet and this book surely opened my eyes and helped me be aware of the issue.

What is also nice is that Chloe, and even David, was not ashamed of their siblings. Chloe may get frustrated with Ivy at times but she’s always there to back her older sister. Same goes with David, his devotion to Ethan is quite admirable. Most people doesn’t have that kind of relationship towards their siblings.  

The family conflicts for both Chloe and David can be a bit depressing and somewhat far-fetched. What are the odds of them both having step parent? But aside from that, it is still a good addition to the scenario.

The romance, of course, is very much present. I’m not a fan of Chloe‘s romance. The chemistry is not that visible but the thing is, I believe her choice is more logical. It is pretty much predictable. The Ethan-Ivy tandem though is cute, as Sarah, Chloe’s best friend said. I am cheering for them as much as Chloe. The twist is surprising, though, the ending is anticlimactic. Not that I mind since it all ends on a positive note.

Things I Should Have Known is a unique, fast-paced book about finding one’s love but ended up finding herself, instead. A remarkable book which will give you an inside look into the lives of people who deals with autism on a daily basis. It is a delight to read such book as it makes you aware of the things that are not the norm for most. A solid heartwarming read that will teach readers a thing or two about dealing with people with autism, whether it be someone we know or a stranger. Let us be more open-minded and not be quick to judge.

So, go ahead and check this one out, guys! It’ll be worth your time.    

RATING: 4.5/5

4andhalfhearts

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

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