First Lines: Amy’s emails started in late July and kept coming all summer. Each one made Matthew a little more nervous.
Ever have those books where you’re like, “I really don’t know what to expect from this book or what I’ll end up thinking of it, but I have just got to try it?” That was this book. It was so different that it caught my attention, but it was also so different that I was worried about what would happen.
For years, Matthew has noticed Amy. Frankly, it’s hard not to. Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, can’t talk without a voice box, and can’t make normal facial expressions like everyone else. After a chance encounter leads to a job opportunity for Matthew to help Amy, Amy is suddenly aware of Matthew in more ways that she should be. And Amy begins to realize that some people are disabled in ways that aren’t as visible as hers. They need each other, and they’re more alike than they realized. As they begin to spend more time together, their friendship starts to turn into something they never expected.
First of all, what I love is the way this fits into the recent push for diverse books. More and more, I notice books with characters who are disabled, suffering from mental illnesses, dealing with racial issues, etc. And it’s so cool that Amy’s perspective gets told. Because of her inability to talk, many people around her think she’s dumb. But she’s actually smarter than they are. I think that’s an assumption a lot of us make: if someone doesn’t/can’t talk, then they must not have much going on upstairs. (Usually, the opposite is true, in my experience.)
Anyway, there was a nice connection between Amy and Matthew. They played to each others strengths and weaknesses. Amy’s weaknesses are somewhat more obvious, but Matthew definitely needs Amy’s help as well. And I thought that was a great balance to their characters. Amy, the perpetually helpless one, finally has someone that she can help.
Speaking of characters, I thought Matthew was really the heart of the story. True, he is the narrator. But even though most of this story is about Amy in one way or another, it’s Matthew who shines. His actions speak so much louder than any words could. It was kind of beautiful.
But…I had some issues with the plot. The first half was fine, great even. I loved watching Matthew and Amy work through their awkwardness to find their very real friendship. That was good. But the second half became frustrating. It was a culmination of many things. Some of it had to do with my expectations of where the book should go. I thought one thing would/should happen, but it didn’t. Or I kept waiting for a thing that would never be. And part of it was because the book drifted into The Land of the Cliche for the last quarter or so. Sigh. I was hoping that an original story like this would be more…original. It got to be a bit of a slog near the end.
Overall, I think it’s at least worth checking out for Amy’s story. (And Matthew’s.) But the plot just wasn’t all that I was hoping it would be.