Sep 11, 2015

Review: How To Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo


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Title: How To Say I Love You Out Loud
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Paperback, 240 Pages
Published August 2015
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Summary: When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?
I purchased a copy of How to Say I Love You Out Loud at The Strand in Manhattan a few weeks ago, and I was immediately super excited to read it. (It had been on my TBR for quite some time.) I am a huge fan of Swoon Reads and all of the material they publish, and I also read a chapter sampler of this book in a sampler packet I got from BookCon this past May. Author Karole Cozzo also did a bit of a guest post on our blog a few months back during #LetsTalkTough week, where she talked about breaking down stigmas and stereotypes. (You can read her fantastic and moving guest post by clicking here.)

So, as for the book itself. Jordyn just wants a normal, under-the-radar life at her competitive and vastly important school. As a rising junior, she does a good job of staying out of the way, making a small group of friends, and getting the typical high school experience. But once her autistic brother, Phillip, has to be enrolled in the very same school, Jordyn fears the worst.

This book tackles several tough topics, one of the most important being bravery, and another being stigmas/stereotypes - the same topic that author Karole Cozzo discussed on our blog a few months before I ever even read the book. According to Jordyn, her main fear is that once everyone sees Phillip in one of his tantrums, he'll be branded tons of untrue things: Crazy. Psychotic. A freak. Vicious. Dangerous. It isn't so much Jordyn's fear of Phillip being called these things, but she being called these things by association. After all, according to Jordyn, if your brother is labeled a psychotic freak (which is still totally wrong), you are too.

So, Jordyn spends the entire period of Phillip being at her school doing her best to ignore him. It helps that he doesn't recognize her, but either way, she still does whatever she can to stay out of his way and make sure that nobody knows her seemingly terrible secret. All while facing the wrath of Alex's girlfriend - who suspects there's something going on between the two of them, even though there isn't.

Even though Jordyn kind of wishes there was, no matter how long it takes her to admit it.

I liked reading this book, especially because it teaches the reader that something to an individual may seem like the end of the world, but it really isn't. In this case, Jordyn fears that her entire life will crumble and be reduced to shambles if anybody ever found out that Phillip was her brother. Inevitably, you know it happens, and when it does...the results are not what she seemed to expect.

What frustrated me about this book a little bit was Jordyn's character. I know that Cozzo needed to make Jordyn so weak and indecisive in the beginning to make the character growth obvious, but it got to the point where I was becoming seemingly frustrated. At times she appeared to weak and I was practically screaming at her (in my head of course) to make the right decision and to stop being afraid of everything...and still there were problems. I know that was probably Cozzo's intention, but it still frustrated me a whole lot. It may have been overdone just a smidge. 

Still, this is a good book that I think everyone needs to pick up because it teaches you a lot not only about your own bravery and staying true to yourself, but about other important life lessons that we as teenagers need to learn. One being that stigmas and stereotypes are totally unprecedented and not okay - something we hear a whole lot but somehow still always manage to succumb to. Another important lesson that I definitely will continue to take with me from this book is what I mentioned previously - the motto of This too shall pass. The fact that something may seem huge and detrimental and the end of the world for you (and as a teenager I can confirm that this feeling happens a lot - with failed tests, failed endeavors, road tests, and the like). I've experienced it personally. I've sat on my bed having a meltdown and feeling like the entire world was shattering to pieces around me. No matter how silly I told myself I was being, I still felt it.

But you know what? A day or two would pass. I still felt broken - but time kept moving, which was out of my control. Eventually, things will start to look up.The world would seem like it was being stitched back together a little more. And before I knew it, I looked back on what I felt was earth-shattering and realized that to me, right now, it is just a blip on the radar of my past. Not a big deal at all.

This book definitely covers that philosophy and puts it into light and that's why I think everyone needs to read this book - especially teenagers, because it will resonate with them the most.

All in all, How to Say I Love You Out Loud was a heartwarming tale about bravery, stereotypes, and learning things about yourself that you never would have discovered without a little nudge. I would definitely recommend this book, and it's a nice quick read that could be tackled in a weekend, so everyone should be able to find the time for it. I enjoy Karole Cozzo as an author and also as a person so I will be looking forward to reading her upcoming 2016 release!

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