Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.
Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…
This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?
I think this is the first book I’ve read by Brigid Kemmerer and I was surprised by how much I really liked it.
Rob was one of the most popular kids at school along with his best friend, Connor. Both families had a lot of money. But things changed drastically for Rob when his father was busted for stealing money from people. The feds took almost everything they had, but they could keep the house since it was purchased before the crime was committed. Rob’s dad couldn’t take the guilt and tried to kill himself. He was saved, but he really isn’t there anymore. He has a nurse that takes care of him during the day, but Rob and his mom are left taking care of him at night. This takes a lot out of both of them. When everything happened with his dad, Rob called Connor and he never got a call back. Their friendship fell apart. Now Rob is angry and alone.
Maegan is a really smart girl who always felt like she lived in her sister, Sam’s, shadow. Sam got a full scholarship for lacrosse. She is pretty, popular, and never seemed like anything bothered her. Sam’s life seemed easy. Maegan made a huge mistake and tried cheating on the SAT’s. The whole group had to retake their test and Maegan became an outcast with just her bff, Rachel, who still talked to her. Sam comes home from college pregnant. She is struggling to decide what to do and the father blocked her on everything. Maegan is the only one she really confides in, but she’s upset all the time.
Rob and Maegan are paired up for a calculus project. Rob is distant and Maegan feels like he hates her. But he just keeps his guard up after everything happened. He has a hard time dealing with his feelings. They start spending more time together. Maegan sees that he doesn’t even have enough money for a coffee drink. Another boy, Owen, starts sitting with Rob at lunch. Owen is gay and his only friend graduated the year before. Owen also gets the free lunches from school. Owen really opens Rob’s eyes to see that some people have everything while others are struggling to even buy lunch.
Rob makes a big mistake, but believes it was for a good reason. Maegan isn’t sure she can trust him again. Owen supports him. Things get really strange because Maegan and Rob are falling for each other. Maegan’s bff doesn’t trust Rob. And Connor picks on both Rob and Owen. There is a big fallout towards the end of the book and we find out exactly why his dad did what he did.
I gave this book 4 stars. A very strong 4 stars. Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy for review. I’ll definitely be picking up another book from Brigid.
There are a lot of warnings for this book. Some might be a bit spoilery, but I feel they’re needed. Talk of abortion, teen pregnancy, teenage sex, suicide attempt by gun (this one was hard for me), teenage drinking, sex between a student (legal age) and a teacher, cheating, stealing, arrests, a lot of talk of people who are poor, but not quite at poverty level, a car accident, bullying, parental abuse,and possibly more that I’m forgetting.
Have you read any books by Brigid Kemmerer? Is this one on your TBR (June 2019 release date)?