About the Book

Title: Tell Me Three Things
Published: 2016
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Leslie Knope Was Here
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Talky Talk: Anticipation
Bonus Factors: Secret Admirer, Mysterious Loner Dude, Outcasts
Anti-Bonus Factors: Obliviousness, The Plastics
Relationship Status: Time for Girl Talk?

Cover Story: Leslie Knope Was Here

Since starting to watch Parks and Recreation last October (for the first time … I know), I can’t see waffles without thinking of Leslie Knope. Although, if these were really hers, they’d be nearly completely covered in whipped cream.

The Deal:

Until two years ago, Jessie knew what to expect from life. But then her mother died, her father eloped with a complete stranger, and she was forced to pack up and move from Chicago to Los Angeles.

There, Jessie finds herself starting her junior year of high school at a wealthy prep school full of students who’ve all known each other for most of their lives, and who are all members of the beautiful and elite. Jessie flounders, and considers returning home, but then she receives an email from a mysterious stranger who calls themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN). SN promises to help her get through it all, as long as she’s cool with never knowing who he or she really is.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Jessie is definitely someone I would have hung out with in high school—a bit quirky, studious, and full of sass—but the point in which she’s at in life in Tell Me Three Things totally brought out the Big Sister feelings in me. I want to give her a big hug, a shoulder to cry on, and a more objective, somewhat more experienced viewpoint on the whole SN issue.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Regardless of the fact that Jessie doesn’t know who SN is, she can’t help but have feelings for them, particularly when they quickly become her confidant and closest friend. The sweet things they say to each other are adorable, and get progressively more swoony as the story progresses.

Talky Talk: Anticipation

Tell Me Three Things is Julie Buxbaum’s first YA novel, but she’s written other novels for adults. This experience shows in the book’s pacing and characters, both of which are excellent. From the moment Jessie receives the first email from SN, the tension of the plot begins building. It’s a slow burn at first, as Jessie tries to figure out what to do with the situation. But as she gives in to the relationship with SN, the tension increased to a crescendo, and totally swept me along with it.

As for Buxbaum’s characters, all of the people in Tell Me Three Things are fleshed out characters who feel like real people; they’re not perfect, and they make mistakes, but they actually learn (or at least try to learn) from those mistakes. They grow, and they change, in believable ways. Even the smallest or most stereotypical of characters have nuances.

Bonus Factor: Secret Admirer

A handwritten note from Stephanie, who is mad at Kyle for not answering her calls

Some people might consider the idea of an anonymous admirer more creepy than appealing—and, when you watch enough crime procedural TV shows, you know how it can sometimes turn out really, really badly—but when said anonymous admirer is as sweet and attentive as SN, it’s easy to see how Jessie is so quickly and easily sucked into a relationship. I once had a secret admirer in college (for all of a few hours), and the suspense and fun in figuring who it was absolutely delightful.

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

Jordan Catalano, a hot brooding stoner, in My So-Called Life

In addition to dealing with SN, Jessie finds herself partnered on a semester-long English project with the mysterious—and oh-so-appealing—Ethan. Jessie can’t help but be intrigued by his personality and story, even while she can’t stand how aloof and pretentious he is on the surface.

Bonus Factor: Outcasts

The cast of Mystery Men all dressed in different quirky outfits in the subway

Jessie and her (eventual) friends don’t fit in with the rest of the popular clique at Wood Valley High School, but that makes them all the more awesome, at least in this nerdy, bookish, “weird” girl’s eyes.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Obliviousness

Although Buxbaum could have pulled a massive switcheroo when it came to revealing SN’s true identity, I had a pretty good idea of who they’d turn out to be pretty much from the beginning of the novel. And I got a little annoyed at Jessie at times for being so obtuse. However, I might have been similarly obtuse had I actually been in her shoes, rather than just reading about the situation.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Plastics

Karen and Gretchen, part of the Plastics in Mean Girls, wearing pink and freaking out at the mall

Wood Valley High School is filled with characters straight out of Mean Girls. And they are mean.

Relationship Status: Time for Girl Talk?

Your story kept me reading way past my bedtime, Book, and I’m not even mad. I wanted—nay, needed—to know all the juicy details of your situation with SN, and could feel the hearts in my eyes grow as our time together neared an end. Are you free next weekend? We could get together to watch cheesy rom-coms and paint our nails and talk more about what happened after your story ended.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Delacorte Press, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Tell Me Three Things is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.