Some of the most important people who become part of our lives we find during our darkest, saddest hour. It could be a sad thought but I kind of find it really beautiful it makes me want to cry. It’s like what David puts it, the butterfly effect. A single ripple or moment brings us to a certain point in our lives, become part of another person’s life. In this case, a single misstep on the brake led to the accident that took away the life of Kit’s dad leaving her grieving and wanting to be alone and eventually bringing her to David’s table at the school’s cafeteria.
Dramatics aside, What to Say Next is an endearing read that tackles grief, loneliness and even mental health both specifically and generally in an adorable, extremely funny and very relatable manner that I honestly enjoyed every single bit of the story. Just a peek at David’s charming mind.
“I realize this is what people call small talk. I also realize that world would be a better place without it.”
“Her elbows are twenty centimeters from mine. Our knees are even closer. Better measured in millimeters. I wish I could take out my tape measure…”
“She motions to the pianist, who is bald and bearded which I’ve always found to be a bizarre combination. You would think you would want cranial and mandibular hair consistency.”
Honestly, all my stars go to David. The portrayal of David’s mental health is positively enlightening while Kit’s coping with grief was depicted very realistically. I was just a bit dismayed at her unfair reaction toward David’s response after he figured out the whole truth of the accident. I’m not Kit’s biggest fan but I couldn’t fully blame her because of what she’s going through.
One of the major points of this story, I believe, is the reality and seriousness of mental illness. Their complex, scientific and specific names and levels are sometimes only labels, some sort of identifiers but however people might want to call it, the truth is I believe everyone has a mental health issue. We just happen to differ in the manner we cope.
Some people attempt to cover it up by hurting themselves, some by hurting others. Others pretend they’re superior while others get extremely insecure. Some find comfort in accuracy and facts while others rely on the unknown. It’s really time people recognize this as part of humanity and be okay with it. There’s no point whispering about a secret everybody knows. It’s high time we talk about it loud and clear and the author did exactly that.
Ms. Julie Buxbaum is one contemporary author to watch out for. I knew I had good reason to trust her after reading her debut novel Tell me Three Things which I thoroughly enjoyed. What to Say Next is even better. I can’t wait for the next book she releases.