Things I Should Have Knownby Claire LaZebnik
Published on March 28, 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Things Chloe knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan’s brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.
Things Chloe should have known: Setups are complicated. Ivy can make her own decisions. David may be the only person who really gets Chloe.
Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.
Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own, so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen-yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.
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I was expecting more of a romance. Simply based on the synopsis, I thought it would take center stage for this story in terms of the main plot but I found that wasn’t the case and I can’t say the story was necessarily lacking because of it but I couldn’t get into it.
Contemporaries are always hit or miss for me. Usually, I don’t mind contemporary romances as much since I read romances pretty often and it’s a theme that I can connect to while reading. Which is why I thought I’d like Things I Should Have Known more than I actually did.
This just wasn’t the right book for me.
Briefly touching on that romance bit, I felt it was kind of forced at times but at others just… not really there. It takes a while to really get into it and by that point I kind of lost interest.
But I definitely think it’s the right book for other readers and though the romance and my connection to the story wasn’t really present, there were a lot of amazing relationships between siblings and friends. I don’t have personal experience and can’t attest to the authenticity of this story and the experiences the characters go through as being siblings of characters with autism, it felt authentic. Real. Grounded. Obviously I wouldn’t say this is a good representation of autism for everyone on the spectrum because a) I don’t have the experience to warrant a statement like that, and b) as far as I’ve heard it’s different for everyone, much like most things are. But I think it represents these characters and their experiences well.
Now while the characters were beautiful in their connections to each other, I can’t say I was a huge fan of Chloe. She just kind of annoyed me? And with her perspective dominating it meant slogging through the slower sections of the book a bit harder. But I think that comes down to the writing too, which I wasn’t a big fan of. It’s a personal preference, just not a style that clicked with me. Might be because of the genre and I’m just not well-read enough to appreciate it but I couldn’t bring myself to really get into it.
I think this book is wonderfully diverse and addresses topics that I haven’t read about before, which was a really cool experience for me as a reader. Unfortunately, as a reader I’m also reading for entertainment/enjoyment and while certain elements of this book were great, it wasn’t the book for me. But I would definitely recommend anyone who’s added it to their TBRs to still check it out!