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Things I Should Have Known

Review

Things I Should Have Known

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Claire LaZebnik centers on Chloe, a high school senior who seems to have an idyllic life at school with good grades and a plethora of friends. At home, however, her life is far from perfect; her father died from cancer several years ago and her mother recently remarried to someone who Chloe finds exceedingly irritating.

"LaZebnik creates an environment that teachers the reader about the human component of autism and melds it together with more traditional YA issues....Highly recommended to YA readers who love contemporary novels."

Since this remarriage, however, Chloe notices that her mother is a little more devoted to her new husband than her two daughters, Chloe and her older sister, Ivy. Ivy is autistic, and Chloe, who is very protective of her, begins to notice that Ivy seems lonely and decides to arrange a date with a boy, Ethan, who is in one of Ivy’s special needs classes. Ethan and Ivy both bring their younger siblings along on this date, and much to Chloe’s surprise Ethan’s younger brother, David, is a boy in her grade who she has always thought of as arrogant and self-centered.

However, as the date continues, Chloe and David form a bond as they both understand the responsibilities of having an autistic siblings. Lazebnik creates a realistic teen environment, as both Chloe and David share their faults but express their passions as well.

This novel touches on many important current topics, including autism, LGBTQ, feminism and mental health. LaZebnik’s words bring these issues to life, and speak the honest truth about all of them. The author notes at the end that she has a child who is on the autism spectrum, and it is apparent with her knowledge on the topic throughout the novel. She never veers from presenting the topic honestly, which is a departure from many novels that tend to sugarcoat ideas and concepts to make it more palatable to the reader.

LaZebnik creates dialogue that highlights this, including Chloe’s words, ”You know, if we were pushing our siblings in wheelchairs, people would be nice to them and to us. They'd be like, Oh, the poor handicapped people and their wonderful siblings! Let's hold doors for them! But Ivy and Ethan...they basically look like everyone else, with just these tiny differences in how they behave and move. And that bugs people.”

Overall, LaZebnik creates an environment that teachers the reader about the human component of autism and melds it together with more traditional YA issues such as friendships, sisterhood, relationships and divorce. Highly recommended to YA readers who love contemporary novels, especially those who are avid readers of authors like Sarah Dessen and Jennifer E. Smith.

Reviewed by Ryan H., Teen Board Member on May 10, 2017

Things I Should Have Known
by Claire LaZebnik