Book Reviews

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – Book Review

A Photo of Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum Book Cover On Tablet

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – Book Details

TITLE – Tell Me Three Things

AUTHOR – Julie Buxbaum

GENREyoung adult, romance, contemporary



MY RATING – 4.5 of 5


Initial Thoughts

I love YA contemporary. It is not my favorite genre, but it definitely has its place in my reading life. I especially like mixing it with heavier, more serious stuff. And to use it as a buffer between sequels of long epic fantasies.

Granted, I am not the exact target audience. But to me there is something so very special about the high school age. That magical moment when you feel you could almost reach the meaning of life with the tips of your fingers, yet all your statuses could be described as ‘it’s complicated’. I love getting back to it every chance I get.

Plus, I just love the school setting, whether it’s a romance, literary fiction or dark academia.

The problem is – I often end up wondering if I am not more a fan of the idea of YA. The books themselves often turn out to be quite disappointing.

I’m OK with most infamous tropes, although there are a few that still make me roll my eyes. However, the quality of the narration, dialogs, fleshing out characters and conveying ideas don’t always meet my standards.

I don’t know if it’s the genre in general or I’ve been just picking the wrong books. But lately I’ve grown very tired of seeing all these amazing covers and reading such promising blurbs only to end up frustrated after the very few chapters.

So I went to people that mostly have the same taste and opinions as I do in this particular genre and I asked them for recommendations.

Julie Buxbaum was one of the authors I got recommended most often. Especially her books Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next got a lot of praises from people on my good-book-recommenders list.

Tell Me Three Things – I’ve got to be honest and say that that blurb didn’t seem all that promising to me. But I decided to give it a shot anyway and based on how I like it decide whether I want to continue with this author or not…

What It Is About

A book quote from Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum: “It is just him and me, SN is SN is SN and Jessie is Jessie is Jessie, and his lips touch mine. But sometimes a kiss is not a kiss is not a kiss. Sometimes it’s poetry.”

Jessie Holmes was still counting days since her mother passed away when her father eloped with a woman he met online. Now she needs to move from Chicago to Los Angeles, which means adjusting to the new stepfamily, new house, new school, new lifestyle…

The only thing that makes the transition any easier are emails from Somebody/Nobody. Jessie doesn’t know who this guy is. She only knows that they are going to the same school and that his messages do make things a bit better.

What starts with him helping her to navigate the new environment grows into a real friendship and maybe even something more. But will Jessie’s feelings change when she finds out who Somebody/Nobody really is?

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – My Review

Right from the start it was clear that Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum was going to be one of the better quality YA contemporaries I’ve read. I kind of just clicked with the writing. It was completely non-pretentious and… not lyrical in the usual sense of the word, but still kind of melodic.

This was a fast, sweet and easy read. It was cute and fun and fluffy and kind of adorable – it was everything I hoped it would be. Short chapters. Casual writing. Emotional but not overwhelming. I actually really enjoyed it.

Of course the guy was hot and handsome but with a depth to him. And of course the girl was cool without knowing it. Hey – that’s YA for you. But at least other aspects were solid enough for me to willingly pay the price.

Jessie, for example, was very relatable. I remember feeling the way she was feeling. Having tons of insecurities but not letting them define you. Wanting to be seen. To be understood. Wanting that one person that is making you feel special.

Tell Me Three Things features the good old “they never actually met” trope, but kind of. They communicate via email and she doesn’t know who he is, but he knows who she is.

And I like that trope. The part that I especially like about it is that it pretty much excludes insta love, since they need to get to know each other… you know – without seeing each other.

So yeah, if you are tired of these kind of stories, then maybe skip this one. And if you like them, just go for it and hopefully you’ll like it as much as I did.

I also loved the friendships – mostly just how realistic they were. The struggles felt very real. The fears, and also overcoming the problems and supporting each other. And then the cute, fun part of it all was also on point.

Grief is not something I know much about first hand. So I can’t really judge how well of a job the author did, but I can say it didn’t seem fake to me.

So yeah – lots of things I liked very much, and then just a few I had issues with.

The LA stereotypes, for example. Not that it bothered me a lot, but those parts didn’t feel quite realistic.

And the ending, though very sweet, didn’t feel as climactic as I was hoping for. I kind of missed the drama. Yes, that overreacting/misunderstanding drama I always complain about. Like – when everyone reacts pretty much the best way possible, and you get disappointed because you’ve been hoping for a juicy scandal?

What can I say – I’m a hypocrite.

Plus, the ending felt a bit abrupt. I wanted to see more of Jessie and SN in person together. An epilog would have been nice, thank you very much.

OK, so there were a few minor things I wished has been done a bit better. But the truth of the matter is – I enjoyed this book very much. I never wanted to put it down and was looking forward to every next time I can pick it up again. And what is that if not a 5 star book?

But just to be clear – Tell Me Three Things is not exactly on the same level as some other books I gave 5 stars to. I more compared it with other books of the same genre, and then it absolutely is 5 stars.

Some things I had issues with were the things that make this book an excellent YA, and I didn’t want to lower my rating because the book ended up being exactly what it supposed to be, if that makes any sense.

* * *

And here are the 3 things from me:

  1. This was so much fun, I will try to squeeze What to Say Next into my TBR as soon as possible.
  2. I’m totally having waffles for dinner.
  3. The whole time I was reading this book, Demi Lovato’s Nightingale has been playing in the back of my mind – #appropriate or what?

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