If I told you three things about this book, I would say this book is (1) cute, (2) fun, and (3) has a lot of heart.
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum follows Jessie, a high school junior who moves to California when her father remarries after her mother's death. Jessie's new prep school is Los Angeles is drastically different than her school in Chicago and Jessie feels extremely lost. One day, she receives a mysterious message on an anonymous students who promises to help Jessie navigate her new school. Soon, Jessie finds herself falling for the person behind the messages.
One day, I saw Tell Me Three Things as a deal for my Kindle, but I passed it up because the plot sounded like a lot of other books that I've read. I really regret my decision now because I really enjoyed this book after checking it out from my library! Even though Tell Me Three Things does play into some tropes, I thought it was a cute and fun read with a nice writing style.
I think the strongest aspect of this book was how Jessie dealt with her life after her mother's death. From the counting the day since she passed, how she characterized her stepmother, and her relationship with her father were extremely authentic and realistic. In the author's note, Julie Buxbaum noted how, much like Jessie, her mother passed away when she was a teenager and many of Jessie's actions throughout the book reflected her own life. Even though it must have been extremely difficult, as Buxbaum remarked in her author's note, I think drawing on her own experience made this part of the book even more impactful and stand out among other young adult books on the same topic.
Another strong aspect of the book was Jessie's relationship with her friends. All of Jessie's friends were extremely realistic and many of their conversations and jokes reminded me of when I was in high school. I think a lot of readers the same age of Jessie will connect with her voice and her relationships to her friends. *MINOR SPOILER AHEAD.* The only complaint that I would have for this part of the book was Jessie's blow-up with her friend back home from Chicago. Even though her friend is known for being outspoken, it seemed out of character for her to freak out on Jessie without a warning. The drama seemed unnecessary, especially when the girls quickly made up a few pages later.
While I enjoyed many aspects of this book, there were several areas that could be improved. This book takes place in Los Angeles and utilizes many stereotypes for the location and characters. The mean girl is blonde, looks like the super model, and for some reason targets the narrator even though she poses no threat. Jessie's crush completely defies the Los Angeles stereotype but is constantly surrounded by a flock of girls. While Jessie's brother possessed the potential to have a great story line and more complex relationship with Jessie, he became more a caricature than a character who dressed in costume for every occasion. These characters and their involvement in the plot was a little too typical and made the book drag in places.
Another part of the book that frustrated me were the different possibilities of SN. It's pretty obvious who is behind SN, but it's understandable to have multiple characters to increase suspense. However, I never fully believed it was any of the other possibilities and I didn't care for how they were resolved. *WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD* It seemed like Liam only existed to create drama with the blonde mean girl and to emphasize how great Jessie was without really showing it through her actions. His ending is probably the least satisfying out of the two other options. I can't even remember the name of the other options because he was loosely tied to SN that you wondered why he was constantly brought up.
Despite the issues I had with Tell Me Three Things, I enjoyed reading most of the book and I know it is something that would connect with a lot of high school readers. For the author's personal connection and the realistic relationships, I give Tell Me Three Things three stars.