Title: Call It What You Want
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Pub. Date: June 25, 2019
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.5
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?
This will be a SPOILER FREE REVIEW.
At the launch for A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Brigid was so nice and handed me a copy of her upcoming Contemporary Call It What You Want – a very loose Robin Hood inspired story that she has worked her magic on, and you will feel for these characters.
It’s taken me awhile to sit down and figure out my thoughts on this book, because for the longest time I was just a bunch of squealing noises and grins. I know you know what I’m talking about, but that doesn’t make for a very good written review. I didn’t have words, but now I do.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to squeal about this book, and I will, but now I can formulate complete phrases and sentences to talk about just how much I loved this book.
Brigid has done it again with Call It What You Want, I have fallen in love with her characters, the world and the story, so much so that I would totally be happy with a prequel novel and a sequel.
Let’s start with the characters –
Rob – he needs all the hugs. All the time. He’s a social pariah due to his father’s bad business choices and everyone hates him. His classmates blame him for his father’s actions. It weighs heavily on him and he does everything he can to stay under the radar. No friends, no social life, he’s drowning. His situation broke my heart. I really liked that he was emotional – in the sense that we actually saw what he was feeling, that he wasn’t afraid to hide it.
Maegan – she’s a perfectionist who made a mistake, and now it’s haunting her. I felt like her social pariah status was a little extreme, but it is high school and teenagers can really freaking suck.
Samantha – I loved Samantha. She was funny and her personality was great, even with everything she was going through. She didn’t have it easy, but I really enjoyed that she didn’t act like a victim and realized that she was old enough to make the mistake, therefore she was old enough to take partial responsibility.
Owen – he was a nice little surprise and I would love to see more of him. I really enjoyed his and Rob’s friendship and how it grew.
The relationships between these characters was fantastic. Rob and Maegan are two outsiders who are forced to work together, and it’s only after some time, do they realize that they aren’t who everyone paints them out to be. That they are both lonely and misunderstood. Maegan’s relationship with her sister is strained due to the pressure Maegan feels trying to live up to her sister, and the pressure she feels from her parents to be the “good girl” which holds a whole new meaning now that her sister is pregnant. But that feeling of having to be good, to be perfect makes Maegan feel like she’s drowning and that she has to do anything and everything to stay that way in her parent’s eyes. As for Owen and Rob, they start off as tentative friends, unsure and unprepared for how well they get along. Rob feels awkward because of who his father is, and Owen, an outsider himself, decides to figure out who Rob is. Together they hatch a scheme that not everyone would agree with.
The pacing was good, though it did kind of feel like we were dropping into the middle of the story – hence why I said I’d like a prequel and a sequel! And the little twist at the end I didn’t see coming, which is something Brigid excels at and gets me every time I read her new books.
I wouldn’t say that this my favorite Contemporary Brigid has ever written – that belongs to More Than We Can Tell, but just like with everything she writes, I fall for the characters, the writing, and even more importantly I feel for them. I feel their pain, their excitement, their sadness and longing. Her characters are some of the most real feeling, and I absolutely enjoy reading anything and everything she writes, and I highly doubt that will ever change. I will say that I have a few qualms about the book, but I won’t post them because this is a spoiler free review, and they definitely don’t impact how good this book is, and how touching these characters are. But this definitely felt more like Rob’s story than Rob and Maegan’s story. As much as I loved the two of them together, her storyline felt a little less impactful, less important than Rob’s. I just loved Rob so much. I just wanted to sit there and hold him and tell him that the everything would be okay. My heart ached for him through much of the novel.
Call It What You Want is Brigid’s next book, and like always, you will be feeling every up and every down that these characters go through. You will fall in love with Rob and Maegan and go with them on their journeys to figure out that they are more than a single action, that if they don’t let it, it doesn’t have to define who they are. They can make their own choices and live their own lives, and sometimes finding someone is feeling as lost and alone as you are, can help.