Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realised.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
I fell in love with this book after reading just the first chapter. It is so rare to find a book with, not one, but two lead characters who are not your typical YA characters. Amy and Matthew both have their own issues that are very real but are not explored much in YA literature. I loved the development of these characters and seeing them overcome their problems. This was such a beautiful book and I finished it in a day.
I do not know what it is like to live with cerebral palsy so I can’t begin to imagine what Amy has to go through on a daily basis. I feel like if I were in her position where I couldn’t speak without the help of a computer or I couldn’t walk without having something there to help me, I would completely give up and not bother with anything. But Amy doesn’t do this. She doesn’t let her disability define her and, to be honest, I forgot about the fact that she had a disability. Amy is just a normal teenage girl who wants to have friends and experience life regardless of her disability. It was refreshing to read her blunt honesty and I loved her relationship with Matthew. She didn’t sugarcoat anything or let him take the easy way out. She pushed him as much as she could because she believed in him and in his ability to overcome his own problems. I felt that the way Amy handed certain situations was great as, although she may not have made the best decisions at times, you could see her reasoning behind it and the logic made sense to her. Amy was a very real character and I loved how she developed as a person throughout this book.
Matthew has a different problem to Amy in that his is a mental illness rather than a physical one. At first Matthew lets his OCD overtake his life and stop him from doing things that everyone else does. It also isolates him from people as he feels that if he doesn’t do certain things, he will end up hurting people and so he finds it easier to separate himself from everyone. I loved how Matthew developed as a character. He didn’t start off as being someone who was completely okay with the idea of being friends with Amy and he had his reservations about it as any teenage boy would. But we can see him change and mature and do little things for Amy that others wouldn’t. The intimacy between them in simple actions such as just touching each other made their relationship so real and wonderful to read about.
The way that Cammie McGovern dealt with real issues such as physical and mental illnesses in a way that didn’t romanticise them but instead showed the harsh realities of them was great to read. She didn’t gloss over things or play down the seriousness of them. I felt like she was showing people who have similar problems that, slowly but surely, they can be overcome as long as you are willing to help yourself.
Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars because I have never read anything like it before and I immediately fell in love with the story and characters.