Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Things I Should Have Known - Claire LaZebnik

Things I Should Have Known
Claire LaZebnik
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017

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. Ethan could be a perfect boyfriend...but probably not for Ivy. David might be the one person who really gets Chloe.  
I went into this book thinking that it was a romance, but it was so, so much more. This story is told from Chloe's point of view, and she is an attractive, smart, popular girl dating one of the most popular and attractive boys at school. From the outside, you would think Chloe has it all, but her home life is far from perfect. Her stepfather is overbearing, her mother is needy, and her sister autistic. Chloe puts on a good front, but her home life leaves her feeling isolated, as her friends just cannot relate or understand.
"You have a great boyfriend and you do well at school and everyone likes you," she said to me when she was explaining her theory. "You're even blond. So of course your family situation is a little, you know...challenging. That's life keeping things in balance."
Chloe feels obligated to be there for her sister, but yearns to live her own life. From there, an idea is born to find a friend for Ivy. The idea of putting Ivy and Ethan together seems perfect, until Chloe finds out that Ethan's brother is her nemesis, David.
"I don't mind coming along."
"Even if you have to hang out with the most hated member of your class?"
"Don't flatter yourself," I say. "No one cares enough about you to hate you."
I don't know where to start, so I will start with David and Chloe. I loved these two. I found the verbal sparring from the early chapters delicious, and the honest, deep discussion in the later chapters quite touching. These two carried a lot on their shoulders. They both had siblings with autism, who they felt they needed to care for and protect, because their parents were not quite up to the challenge. They found comfort in each other, and gave each other the type of support only those in the same situation could. They both struggled with their own wants and needs, and the needs of their siblings. Finding that balance was difficult, and came at a cost.
"You're a good brother," I say.
"I make up for that by being a horrible human being in every other way."
I absolutely adored LaZenik's writing. It was full of wit, humor, affection, and honesty. There was such an ease to it, and the story just flowed naturally. When reading the afterword, I was not surprised to find out that this book was written by a person who loves someone with autism, as Ivy and Ethan were portrayed honestly and respected in the story. LaZenik show the good, the bad, and the ugly that is out there. How the world can seem to those with autism, how poorly some people react to those with autism, and how wonderful someone on the spectrum can be. I appreciated how she brought me in their world, and thank her for her candor and honesty.
It's like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can't deal with something a little bit different. 
There is quite a bit of lovely romance going on in this book. I found it all quite adorable, and loved every minute of it. I have feels over and over again. It was fantastic.

 This book sort of had everything I look for in a great YA contemporary: well thought out characters, great dialogue, honest portrayals, and growth. Growth is really important to me, as I always want my characters to have changed for the better, and LaZebnik gave me that.

Overall: A wonderful story of love, compassion, understanding, and acceptance filled with things that put a smile on my face and a pitter-patter in my heart.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for the advanced copy of this book

Ethan loved movie! 
Do you like movies? What are some of your favorites?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I adore movies so much! I am a big movie nerd and watch everything from superhero movies to rom coms! The only thing I don't watch is horror!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. Funny. When I was younger (in the 80s!), horror was huge - Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween - we watched them all, but I don't really watch horror any longer.

  2. This one quote really got me because it's so true: "It's like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can't deal with something a little bit different."

    Thanks for introducing me to this book!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. One of my favorite quotes. It just hits home on so many levels.

  3. This book sounds so so SO fantastic, I can't wait to get my hands on it. Autistic characters are so rarely portrayed in books, and they're represented well even less times, so this makes me incredibly happy.

    As for my favorite movies - The Breakfast Club, The Conjuring and Heathers are surely at the top. What are yours? :)

    Wonderful review!
    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. I am seeing more and more books with people on the spectrum. I really loved this one, because the author is very well informed about autism, and it shows.

      You have my heart with all those 80s movies. My all time favorite movie is from that decade - Pretty in Pink. The soundtrack, the clothes, the HEA romance. Love it!