Simply Nicollette reviews - books, movies, television shows, etc. with slight spoilers. I try my best to review without giving away too much of the story.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Things I Should Have Known took me by surprise, and completely swept me off my feet through its lovable characters and thoughtful, heartwarming story.
"It's like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can't deal with something just a little bit different."
At first, I thought I was reading about our usual pretty, popular girl with the perfect boyfriend when we first meet Chloe.. But she felt unique as her layers were pulled away and we truly got to know her. Here's the thing, Chloe doesn't necessarily care too much about being popular (more like her need for everyone to find her nice) or having the perfect boyfriend, it's more like that's the cards she's been dealt with thanks to her confidence/personality.
Her inner struggles are what really set her apart from other protagonists in YA contemporaries. Chloe's thoughts are constantly being drawn back to her home life, where life becomes complicated and stressful for her. The heart of this story is family, and I appreciated this so much. Chloe's relationship with her older sister, Ivy, who is autistic is something truly special.
Ivy has such a huge heart and is a big sweetheart. Chloe and Ivy spend a lot of time together and it's great because you can tell how much alike they are because of it, but they are also so different. Chloe can be a bit sarcastic at times and there were moments when Ivy would mimic things she's heard through Chloe's mannerism. I just really loved these sisters.
As the story progresses, Chloe is determined to help Ivy with her dating life because she's worried about her sister becoming too lonely, and maybe she wants a little bit of freedom also. Enter our other main characters, Ethan and his brother David. Ethan's Ivy's classmate and once Chloe sees him she constantly tries to bring them together to forge a friendship. As for David, well Chloe and he happen to go to school together also.. And hate each other. EVERYONE knows how much I LOVE hate-love romances and theirs was super cute! They balanced each other out well because Chloe is sweet and David comes off as a jerk most of the time. . . But deep down they are both kind and caring and they form a bond over their siblings.
Their relationships with their siblings were everything in this book and I was all for it. I don't have anyone in my personal life that is autistic so I can't say how well that aspect of this story was portrayed.. But I can say that it was explained well and didn't give us a one-sided view of autism. We see both Ivy/Ethan's frustrations and Chloe/David's own struggles with it. I appreciated how we saw the good and the bad, the patience and frustrations that came along, and everything in between.
It all wraps up nicely. I think this is Claire LaZebnik's best work! I really loved this story because it not only tackled autism but it found a great way to bring up LGBTQ issues as well. It's a fantastic read with a strong story and great characters, even the unlikable ones (cough Chloe's boyfriend cough) play a role in the overall theme of this book. Highly recommend to everyone, especially those who enjoy contemporaries!
* Quotes listed above are subject to change.