Skip to main content

Tell Me Three Things

Review

Tell Me Three Things

Sixteen-year-old Jessie Holmes relocates to Los Angeles from Chicago with her dad less than two years after her mom’s death. Her new life includes a wealthy step-mother, a spoiled step-brother and privileged classmates. As Jessie begins her junior year at an elite private school, she finds herself homesick and lonely --- until she receives an anonymous email from an admirer. The trials and tears of losing a loved one and starting over unfold thoughtfully in the new young adult novel, TELL ME THREE THINGS.

"The trials and tears of losing a loved one and starting over unfold thoughtfully in the new young adult novel, TELL ME THREE THINGS."

Changing schools in the eleventh grade means fitting into a new “high school hierarchy,” and the midwest brunette bookworm doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere at Wood Valley High. In fact, Jessie thinks she has entered a “jungle” where girls travel “like lionesses” in groups and where blond highlights and porcelain veneers are ubiquitous. Author Julie Buxbaum’s vivid description of a private school in Southern California “where everything is all shiny and expensive,” brings to mind the television show “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Wood Valley would make a glamorous setting for TV or film.

Of course, Jessie’s glamorous new home, her step-mother’s mansion, looks like it belongs in Architectural Digest, yet it lacks warmth and comfort. Jessie says she feels like she “[has] moved into a museum filled with strangers.” Without her mom, nothing seems normal. She calls her new living situation “a new, unidentifiable formation. A cockeyed parallelogram.” Eventually, the teen straightens out her relationships with her step-mom, Rachel, her step-brother, Theo and her father. The novel sensitively explores living in a “blended-family,” a common topic for many young readers.

And young readers will enjoy the teen romance, which develops throughout the novel. At the beginning of the school year, Jessie receives a mysterious email from someone calling himself Somebody Nobody (SN), who offers to act as her “virtual spirit guide” to Wood Valley High School. This online connection becomes a personal connection as the junior and her anonymous friend discover “three things” about each other each time they communicate. But is SN a secret soul mate or just some prank? Guessing the identity of SN kept me continuously reading TELL ME THREE THINGS.

Reviewed by Juliette G., Teen Board Member on April 11, 2016

Tell Me Three Things
by Julie Buxbaum