My hEART belongs to Brigid Kemmerer contemporaries.
I will full on softly cry on your arm right now, because I really loved this book. Plus it stressed me wholly out — clearly the sign of an excellent story. Then the ending was the perfect mix of heartbreak and satisfying roundedness that I just closed it with this deeply good ache and want to thank the world that it exists.
I’ve read a lot of Kemmerer books and recommend them ALL. I also thought this was part of the Letters to the Lost series, but it actually isn’t. Call It What You Want is a thorough standalone!
Also Letters To The Lost is definitely in my top list of favourite ever contemporaries 😭💛 pls read it immediately so your life will be fulfilled.
OTHER Kemmerer books I love! (click to read reviews)
*:·ﾟ✧ THE STORY IT TOLD *:·ﾟ✧
We have two story lines entwined here: Rob and Meagan, two teens whose families were “perfect” until they weren’t.
And look you HAVE me at that storyline; I really love the “things aren’t what they seem” and watching dynamics crumble into vulnerable destruction. (Shh I’m a NICE person.) There’s just so much heartache to explore, so many themes to unpack. And this book does it excellently.
Rob’s treated like a criminal after his dad was caught for embezzling millions of dollars…then his dad tried to commit suicide, failed, and has very little cognitive function now. And Rob FOUND his dad after the suicide attempt. So he’s super messed up. Plus everyone thinks he knew about the crimes — he didn’t. He’s friendless, shunned, barely has enough money to exist because their family’s funds are all frozen. He’s gone from Prince of the World to, literally, worth nothing.
Then we have Meagan: she’s a perfect student, her dad’s a perfect cop, and her sister is a perfect lacrosse champion in college. Then Meagan cheats on her SAT test and is caught. And her sister (Sam) comes home from college pregnant at 18. So LOOK at this pile of tension.
I have to admit, I fell harder for caring about Rob’s storyline. The stakes felt more intense, his agony deeper, but I still loved Meagan a lot!
*:·ﾟ✧ LET ME GUSH ABOUT CHARACTERS *:·ﾟ✧
can we frikkin take a moment for how much I love the way Brigid Kemmerer writes characters. They’re always such soft spiralling disasters and GAH I love them. I always always fall for one of the secondary characters too so like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ngl I want an Owen spin-off.
// ROB // Look he is an utter disaster and watching him make bad decisions STRESSED ME OUT. Everyone hates him and thinks he’s a criminal because of his dad…so he starts starts stealing.😫 Also he was chivalrous and soft and very reserved (fave type of character) and we stan boys who cry and authors who DRIVE them to that point omgggg the kid needs a break. Also: Rob reads, he reads so much. He was into An Ember in the Ashes in this one and reminds me I need to read those.
// Meagan // Nerdy! Relatable! Slightly walked over until she starts to glare at people and not be pushed around.🤗 She’s the type of girl you could so easily be friends with — wHY WASN’T ANYONE FRIENDS WITH HER. Argh and I got so furious at all the snipes she had to endure, even from her FRIENDS, for cheating. Like she made a terrible mistake. But you can see what drove her to it. (Also her dad = argh toxic pile of masculinity.) Also a huge part of her arc is her relationship with her snipey sister. Like they fought so hard…but they’d die for each other, if asked. 100000% accuracy.
// OWEN // he ends up becoming Rob’s friend and these twoooo. He’s such a little gentle snark and I ached for him. Like he literally can’t afford lunch most of the time, yet he offers friendship to Rob…whose father ruined Owen’s family. Also bless these two, I mean they were messes. Basically this:
Rob: why are you trying to be friends with me???
Owen: because you look small and sad and pathetic
Own: now scootch over, buddy bud, we’re friends now
*:·ﾟ✧ THEMES IT TALKS ABOUT *:·ﾟ✧
So this is also a bit of a modernised Robin Hood retelling 👀 so it talks a lot, and very deeply, about money — and attitudes towards money. It unpacks a LOT of thoughts about money privilege and I think it covered it well. Also about suffering? How suffering doesn’t have to be visible to be valid and you can’t judge someone’s level of suffering. You. cannot. know.
I ached for the characters, what they went through, how much they had to hurt because people who should have protected them let them down. There’s a LOT of interesting reactions/psychology too. It makes the characters so much more real and complex when you see them making disaster decisions but you get why.
*:·ﾟ✧ THE ENDINGGGGG *:·ﾟ✧
HA! I won’t be spoiling it. But I just *clenches fist* really frikkin loved everything about it. Also #LibrarianAppreciation. That’s all I shall say. 😌
*:·ﾟ✧ OVERALL *:·ﾟ✧
tbh I assume you are no longer reading this review but have dashed off to read the actual book itself. Because that is my G O A L here. It’s just so so good. It has characters you can’t help but ache for, it tackles complex topics with such nuance, and it’s just such a powerful story. It’s about hating and loving your family, fighting against wrong expectations, and sharing sandwiches can get you FRIENDS.
[crying] do u want some of my sandwich
Rob and Meagan found each other to hold onto. They are perfectly imperfect and I just am here, holding tightly to this book.
thank you to Bloomsbury for the review copy. Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer is out now!
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…
This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?
| WHAT DO YOU THINK |
right! tell me if you’ve read/loved any Kemmerer books? tell me other contemporary retellings that you love? 🤗 and is this on your tbr?