Book Description:

Things I Should Have Known From the author of Epic Fail comes the story of Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy.

Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.


My Thoughts:

Wow, this was SO impressive. I’ve been trying to find a realistic YA contemporary about teens who care for their autistic siblings and this was so perfect. I’d recommend it if you like Sarah Dessen or Kasie West!

Chloe is seventeen, popular, dating the most attractive guy in school, and looks like she has an easy life. Her older sister Ivy is autistic, so Chloe has spent most of her life protecting and caring for her (their mother is a little self-absorbed and easily overwhelmed). Their home life has realistic complications, too, like a challenging stepfather and the pain of their father’s death.

When Chloe sets out on a mission to get Ivy a boyfriend, she happens to pick the younger brother of David, a rude guy in Chloe’s English class. Chloe and David have to accompany their siblings on all of their dates, so they start to bond and see a different side of each other.

David has no social life and has never dated before because he’s his brother’s caretaker. He’s a really refreshing male character because he CRIES, expresses his feelings, and is a feminist. Chloe’s actually an awesome main character, too, with her confidence and sarcasm. Claire LaZebnik does an amazing job writing authentic teens! I totally adored these two and their whole hate-to-love relationship.

But what really made this book so amazing was how realistic the characters were while they dealt with everything. Chloe’s thoughts & responses were honest — she’s a flawed human who will become irritated with her sister at times. I thought the way she interacted with her sister was wonderful, though. She was super inspirational because I’m definitely not always that patient with the people in my life who are on the spectrum.

Chloe’s popular boyfriend makes the typical unaware remarks like calling her sister “messed up” or referring to “people like her.” Her friends don’t really understand and provide the type of comments and situations that so desperately need to be called out… but it’s all done really well. Like everyone honestly means well in this story, but sometimes they act from places of ignorance/fear or don’t understand the whole picture:

An elderly couple is walking by, and the man maneuvers around his wife so he can put himself between her and our group. He’s being gallant.
It hurts, especially because he’s probably just some sweet old guy who loves his wife and wants to protect her from bad things.
But Ivy and Ethan aren’t bad things.

I’m so grateful that the story was still funny, endearing, and hopeful because so many books about realistic challenges become unnecessarily depressing or try to sugarcoat it. These characters seemed like real people and the whole thing just felt honest. Chloe asks David “don’t you feel like we’re living in a different world from everyone else at school?” And that is exactly what I’ve felt like with most of the YA contemporaries where the biggest issues are boys, drama with friends, or getting into college. I feel like I’m living in a different world from those books.

This book is SO relatable, important, heartwarming, and aaaah I don’t want to spoil the main story so I can’t properly gush. But there were seriously so many powerful scenes! You can feel the characters growing as they try to maintain the best possible world for the people they care about, even though they’re not always right about what that might be.

Oh, and I do want to find a way to highlight that one of the main characters is gay without spoiling anything, so… I’ll just leave this here?

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC!

12 comments on “Review: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik”

  1. I hadn’t heard of this book before but I’m definitely adding it to my TBR now! This sounds like a really great departure from a lot of the typical YA contemporaries I read, and I’m sad to say that I’ve yet to read a book with autistic represention. But hopefully that will change soon! Thanks for the great recommendation! ❤

  2. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR, I love when books have realistic portrayals of life beyond high school cliques and romances.

  3. Wow, this sounds so interesting. The author’s other book was already on my TBR for so long. I never got around to picking it up, but I’ll definitely check this one out.

  4. This is another one I’ve seen lots of praise heaped on. Perhaps someday I’ll add it to my TBR, but for now, I think I should read all of the other books I already own by Claire. 😀

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