Things I Should Have Known

by Claire LaZebnik

I think this book caught me just in the PERFECT frame of mind: wanting a sweet, romantic opposites-attract kind of high school romance (a la 10 things I hate about you) coupled with recent watching of “Love on the Spectrum” from Netflix.

The story of Chloe, setting up her autistic older sister, Ivy with a boy in the same special needs class and growing out of her social butterfly/perfect boyfriend self into a more authentic person hit the sweet spot.

Chloe has the perfect high school life, but a more complicated home. She’s unapologetically breezy, superficial, fun-loving, and physically intimate with her perfect boyfriend– but once she comes home she’s either irritated and defensive against her step-father for his constant criticism of her older sister Ivy, or protectively trying to run Ivy’s life herself, or feeling anger at her mom for not stepping up to be protective in the first place.

Then she gets the idea to find Ivy a boyfriend. The ways Chloe interacts with Ivy, watching her for body cues for when she’s upset, recognizing when Ivy is parroting back phrases that Chloe herself taught her, paying attention to what Ivy pays attention to…these were sweet, interesting portrayals of neuro-typical and a-typical interactions (I’m not an expert nor am I experienced) that rang authentic to me.

While some of the high school life stuff where we watch Chloe lose touch with her breezy self and slowly begin to recognize deeper layers of her own life’s priorities by being forced to spend time with a school rival and his brother (as Ivy’s intended) sometimes didn’t ring as authentic, but for someone in the “high school romance” mood like I was when reading this it was fine.

I loved the decision the author made in not tying up everything with a happily-ever-after bow for Ivy and her intended, instead making it complicated and forcing the brother to make realizations about himself as a caregiver that are difficult for adults, let alone adolescents.

Very cute, not anything too terribly risque in terms of high school behavior, great depiction of a range of autistic behavior, sweet romance. Lovely, easy read with a touch of “being educated” especially when Chloe has conversations about how she wishes folks would treat Ivy in public.