On My Bookshelf: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

November 04, 2019

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum is just as much about coming of age and figuring out who you are as it is about love. As if it isn’t enough that Jessie is grieving the loss of her mother, her father fairly quickly remarries and moves Jessie across the country from Chicago to California during her junior year of high school. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.

Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum is just as much about coming of age and figuring out who you are as it is about love. As if it isn’t enough that Jessie is grieving the loss of her mother, her father fairly quickly remarries and moves Jessie across the country from Chicago to California during her junior year of high school. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: I'm not usually a big fan of young adult romance, but I loved Tell Me Three Things , which was just as much about coming of age and figuring out who you are as it was about love. As if it isn’t enough that Jessie is grieving the loss of her mother, her father fairly quickly remarries (a woman he met through a grief group: her husband has also recently passed away) and moves Jessie across the country from Chicago to California during her junior year of high school.

Jessie at first struggles to fit in with her wealthier peers, some of whom seems like they stepped right off the set of Mean Girls. But when an anonymous classmate calling themselves Somebody/Nobody reaches out to her online and offers to help her navigate her new school, Jessie finds herself making new friends, hoping to meet Somebody/Nobody, and eventually falling for someone.

While struggling to find herself in a new place, Jessie also struggles to find balance in her relationship with her dad, her new stepmother and stepbrother, and her best friend back in Chicago. I enjoyed these minor characters just as much as I liked the protagonist. Rachel, her new stepmother wasn’t the stereotypical evil, controlling witch, but also didn’t try to force a relationship with Jessie. Theo, her new stepbrother, tries to ignore Jessie, but eventually becomes a fierce ally. Scarlet, Jessie’s best friend back in Chicago, struggled with fitting in after Jessie left because the two had such an exclusive friendship.

Classroom application: I would recommend this for high school and up, mostly because the book is set in high school. There's some references to sex and drug use, but nothing is actually depicted.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Tell Me Three Things for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum is just as much about coming of age and figuring out who you are as it is about love. As if it isn’t enough that Jessie is grieving the loss of her mother, her father fairly quickly remarries and moves Jessie across the country from Chicago to California during her junior year of high school. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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