Tell Me Three Things

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Tell Me Three Things

By: Julie Buxbaum

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication: April 5, 2016

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb


Jessie’s mother died two years ago and her father has remarried but this is the only the start of her troubles.  She’s moved to a LA to a posh new school, she doesn’t get along with her new family, and she has no friends. Her only saving grace is her anonymous friend, Somebody Nobody.

The Good

  • Nothing

The Bad

  • Jessie. Jessie is the protagonist and she was likable but she was also a snoozefest.
    • Her Head.  This is written in first person and for the first 25% of the book, she doesn’t know or really talk to anyone so we are stuck in her head and she’s not particularly interesting or witty or insightful.
      • We all know a Jessie and some of us might be her.  I explained her problems in the overview and although they are relatable, they are not new so the only way to make Jessie and her story interesting is to make her interesting.  Simon, from Simon vs. Homo Sapiens Agenda, had relatable issues but Simon was witty and charismatic.  Pudge, from Looking for Alaska, was just a skinny kid going to a new school but he was quirky and insightful.
    • Not Much Growth.  Jessie does grow but she did have far to go.  She’s got some issues with her dad but they talk twice in this entire novel-there’s one fight and one make up.  She constantly complains that she flirts better on text than in person. I guess by the end she’s able to flirt in person?  I don’t know if this earth shattering problem was resolved.
  • Basic Writing.  Buxbaum is an adult fiction author and this is her first YA novel and it shows.  Her writing had bones and the story as a whole had potential but it was missing depth.
    • Jessie would have these run-of-the-mill experiences with boys and then we had to suffer through them again when she texted her friends.  The dialog was stilted and juvenile.  Jessie is a reader. She was reading T.S. Elliot as a freshman and you would think her inner monologues and her exchanges with Ethan who is also incredibly smart would be profound but you’d be wrong.
    • The writing seemed forced.  Jessie had a run in with the mean girl and she had an unlikely rescuer but his explanation after the fact was formulaic. She also had a conversation with her reacher after an incident with the mean girl and once again-formulaic and lacking depth. I even felt the title and it’s part in the book was straight out of a bad rom com.
    • Theo and Ethan were very interesting characters that had potential to be great but they weren’t developed.  I won’t say too much about Theo because I don’t want to spoil it but I’ve never read a character like him and I wanted more.  Ethan was mysterious which added to his character and once again I wanted more of him.  I’d actually rather read a story about Theo or Ethan than Jessie.
    • There was a dropped storyline with Agnes, Jessie’s new friend.  I felt like there was something going on but it wasn’t resolved.
    • Predictable. I knew what was going to happen throughout most of the novel. I guessed the identity of Somebody Nobody mid way through. Buxbaum tried to deflect but it wasn’t fooling me.  SPOILERISH-One of the potential suspects recently broke up with his girlfriend but Jessie’s friend, Dri, has had a kiddie crush on him since kindergarten so he’s off limits. BTW, he doesn’t even know Dri exists.  This was the biggest conflict in this book.
  • The Romance.  There’s a rom com that reminded me of this book so this was why I was able to guess who the mystery boy was.  I won’t say the movie because I don’t want to spoil it.  I kind of skipped through the end pages because I just wanted to know who SN was and I didn’t care about the other parts.  This is not a good thing; I should care about the other storylines.
    • Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is very similar to this book but it’s far better and this is why.  In Simon, there were other characters and stories happening simultaneously that were interesting.  There was the issue with his emo friend and then there was the blackmail situation and his parents.  In Tell Me Three Things, the other storyline, the relationship with her father, was not developed and thus I didn’t care about anything else but the reveal.


I feel like this book was a turkey sandwich on marble rye.  The bread’s okay and the meat is kind of tasty but there’s no creamy gouda no romaine lettuce no sun dried tomatoes and no fancy mayo.  It’s a turkey sandwich we’ve all made at home and not the artisanal sandwich we can get at a nice restaurant.

Tell Me Three Things is a good book for a teen who’s outgrown Sarah Dessen but isn’t quite ready for John Green. It lacked depth and interesting characters.


2 thoughts on “Tell Me Three Things

  1. Waaahhh, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this book! I thought it was a sweet novel! I was so worried about what I would think of the romance, but it ended up being fine (even with my picky preferences making me paranoid). I don’t read too many YA contemporary novels so I was quite pleased when I enjoyed this one. 😀 But I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it more! Hopefully your next read is excellent, Dawn. 🙂

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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