Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

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Title: Things I Should Have Known
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Source: ARC provided by Raincoast Books
Add to Goodreads | | Indigo

Overall: 5 STARS

An unforgettable story about autism, sisterhood, and first love that’s perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Sophie Kinsella, and Sarah Dessen. New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things Julie Buxbaum raved: “I couldn’t put it down.”

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

Claire LaZebnik's Things I Should Have Known is a refreshingly candid and heartwarming story about love, family, friendship, and autism. And I'm saying it right now: if you're a fan of YA contemporary novels, this is an absolute must-read for you. Everything about Things I Should Have Known felt so realistic and utterly relatable. It's an honest perspective of what it's like to live with someone who has autism without relying on stereotypes or tropes. 

When Chloe's sister, Ivy, who is on the autism spectrum, makes a passing remark that she'll probably never have a boyfriend, Chloe has the bright idea to play matchmaker. Ever since becoming a senior, Chloe has been worried what graduating and going to college would mean when it comes to Ivy. She knows her older sister must feel lonely since Ivy only really travels between home and her special needs class, but maybe a boyfriend could keep her company and give her new experiences. 

Ethan, the sweet movie-obsessed boy from Ivy's class appears to be the perfect candidate. However, there's a catch—his brother, David, unexpectedly happens to be in Chloe's English class and he always seems to know exactly what buttons to push to get on her nerves. Ivy and Ethan aren't too comfortable being on their own together for the dates, so Chloe and David find themselves tagging along each time and unwittingly becoming closer. Chloe might've set out to find love for Ivy, but her plans just might be going astray...

Chloe and David are definitely unlikely love interests at first. Whereas Chloe is popular and loves socializing, David is cynical and standoffish. But what they truly bond over is their love and devotion to Ivy and Ethan, and it's a shared understanding that allows them to both drop their guards. At school, Chloe tries to be carefree and happy around her friends, and doesn't speak too much about her sister. It's mostly because she doesn't want to come across as too sensitive, even though it does bother her when her friends or people say unintentionally hurtful or ignorant comments about Ivy. When Chloe is with David, she doesn't have to worry about that.

I absolutely enjoyed Things I Should Have Known! It's definitely Claire LaZebnik's best book yet. It was cute and romantic. Funny and endearing. But also filled with moments of heartbreak, frustration, and worry. It was an addictive and compelling read, a book I couldn't set down until I was finished. I loved Chloe and Ivy's tight relationship. Ethan and Ivy's quirks made me laugh a few times. I admired how Chloe and David would do anything to protect their siblings from any outside scrutiny, and just wanted them to be safe and happy. There is just so much to love about Things I Should Have Known and its open acceptance that being normal comes in all kinds of different forms.

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  1. Seems interesting! Thanks for bringing this book to my attention :)