I received an ARC of this novel courtesy of NetGalley and Second Story Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Expected Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Over the last few months, I have started reading and buying more books that I wouldn’t normally give a second thought to. I actually have a pretty wide range of genres that I read, from YA (obviously) to and non-fiction. You can find a little bit of everything on my bookshelves and I’m pretty proud that I don’t have a limited selection. But recently, I have started purchasing and requesting books that I don’t really know anything about. You could say I’m just jumping in and hoping for the best. Well, thanks to books like Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell by Liane Shaw, it has been a slam dunk so far.
Sixteen-year-old Frederick has a lot of rules for himself. Like if someone calls him Freddy he doesn’t have to respond; he only wears shirts with buttons and he hates getting dirty. His odd behavior makes him an easy target for the “Despisers” at school, but he’s gotten used to eating lunch alone in the Reject Room.
Angel, in tenth grade but already at her sixth school, has always had a hard time making friends because her family moves around so much. Frederick is different from the other kids she’s met – he’s annoyingly smart, but refreshingly honest – and since he’s never had a real friend before, she decides to teach him all her rules of friendship.
But after Angel makes a rash decision and disappears, Frederick is called in for questioning by the police and is torn between telling the truth and keeping his friend’s secret. Her warning to him – don’t tell, don’t tell, don’t tell – might have done more harm than good.
The first half of the story is told from Frederick’s viewpoint and I found myself enthralled with the way he thinks. Frederick has Asperger’s and so being able to view everything through his eyes is such an interesting experience. Shaw is able to accurately capture how life is viewed by someone on the spectrum. Frederick is the most logical person I have ever gotten to read about. He takes one idea and completely take you on these long streams of thought where you find yourself wondering where his mind is taking you, and then all of a sudden he brings your full circle! I would catch myself getting confused for a bit with what he was talking about but after processing it, I was surprised to see just how much sense it actually made. It was incredible! Where some may not understand, I found myself thinking that Frederick is really just so much more intelligent than normal people. I loved his little thought tangents. Watching him grow from the loner and antisocial to embracing his friendship with Angel was really fun to watch. However, some people may get annoyed with his chapters as they tend to be a bit dense due to the way he processes thoughts and social situations.
The second half of the book is told from Angel’s viewpoint. We finally get find out what has caused her to run away and also see how she views Frederick and his eccentricities. I enjoyed Angel. She’s very direct and instead of allowing Frederick’s disability to hinder any friendship that might arise, she just plows forward and never gives it any thought. She just accepts and appreciates him for who he is. I really respected that about her character. We always think that we will do the right thing but sometimes we don’t rise to that occasion and instead let society dictate our behavior for us, but Angel doesn’t. She attempts to break down Frederick’s wall and get to know all of him. I also valued that her story brings up several issues and doesn’t shy around them, such as peer pressure and body shaming. I appreciate that Shaw spotlights some of these real life problems, rather than your typical YA fluff.
Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell is a pretty typical YA novel, in that it focuses on characterization rather than action and plot. Yes, there is the mystery surrounding Angel’s disappearance, but that’s not what makes this a compelling story. The real brilliance is in the voices of our two MCs. I found them to be so realistic and fleshed out, that they were truly brought to life. Frederick especially was someone that I really found myself connecting with. I was more interested in seeing how this situation changed him than in actually wondering what caused Angel to run away in the first place. The book did seem to drag a bit around the middle but never reached a place where I found myself not caring what was going to happen next.
I didn’t have a whole lot of issues with this story. I did feel that the voices of Frederick and Angel were a little young rather than the 16 years old that they are supposed to be. It wasn’t much of a deal with Frederick because it made sense for him to be that way, however, I was expecting a bit more from Angel. This isn’t really a criticism but this story almost felt as if it was written specifically to be required reading in school. I mean, I can literally picture it being on the 8th grade Pre-AP required summer reading list, right there alongside To Kill A Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It just has that feel to it. Though, I definitely enjoyed reading more about Frederick and Angel than I did the Logans (because that book was just awfully boring).
Go out and read this beautiful book!
Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars