Title: YOU SAY IT FIRST
Author: KATIE COTUGNO
Publication Date: JUNE 16, 2020
One conversation can change everything.
Meg has her entire life set up perfectly: she and her best friend, Emily, plan to head to Cornell together in the fall, and she works at a voter registration call center in her Philadelphia suburb. But everything changes when one of those calls connects her to a stranger from small-town Ohio.
Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.
But things don’t end there…
That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?
This is my 2nd Katie Cotugno’s book, and her other book I’ve read before was 99 Days. I have to admit that this book is an improvement and her writing has become a lot more better. I really enjoyed this one better except for the friendship and relationship drama—I’ve had enough of the drama, to be honest.
This is a story about a girl named Meg who’ve been very vocal about politics while also had to deal with the struggles in her daily life. Later on, came a guy named Colby who sort of challenged her in a way no one had done before. The more time they spend calling and texting each other on the phone, the more their feelings grow but there are problems that tried to tear them apart. Will they be able to mend their relationship or are they just going to pretend like it was nothing and move forward with their own lives?
The theme of this story is basically about politics, and the topic about it was too heavy in this book. Honestly, I don’t usually read anything that has to do with politics—especially real life politics—because I’m not a political person, so I tend to avoid it plus my knowledge when it comes to politics aren’t strong since I only care about the politics in the country where I live (I know this make me sound so ignorant, but I’m trying to educate myself more). Despite this book is heavily political, I still like how the author made the heroine of this book talks about politics more and about the US government.
This book helps me a lot in learning and understanding about the US government and how the politics are working in the US. I’m not American, I’m a Bruneian. I was born and grew up in one of the smallest country in Southeast Asia called Brunei with a population of 400K+, so I don’t know how politics in other countries are like and how the governments in other countries works. It was nice to learn something new from this book.
I can spot the huge differences in how the political system works in the US and how it works in my country. Most countries have presidential elections, while in my country we don’t have any kind of elections at all. The one who rule the country I live in is the Sultan also known as the King. There is no president, only the royal family. By reading this book, it does help me see the differences in a lot of ways.
From what I realized the most from this book, the younger generations are far more woke when it comes to politics and trying to change the world into a better place. Same goes to what happens in the real world right now. What I mean is lots of younger people are the ones who stood up the most, trying to make a change so that the world can be in peace, fighting for what’s right, trying to bring justice, and fighting for their voice to be heard. There are just a lot of things in this book that are similar to what happens in reality. This book is really acknowledging everything that is happening in the world. I really liked how it was done excellently as a story. Katie really did a phenomenal job in bringing this story to life.
Aside from the politics, this book also explored more about Meg and Colby’s personal lives such as: their everyday struggles, their respective jobs, their friendship with their own friends, their dynamic with their own family, and their respective dating lives. It really makes me understand them much better. Seeing their struggles and how they are trying to cope with their own lives and how they are trying to improve themselves makes me see things very clearly about them. I have much respect to both of them considering they are still a bit too young to be dealing with the obstacles life had thrown at them, and yet they have managed to handle it even though sometimes it can be hard for them to do so.
Life was hard for Meg. Not only she had to live with the fact that her father is going to get married to a new woman who has been making his life so much better, but she also had to be the adult and taking care of her mother while also trying to focus on her final year of high school and working at this one company as the person who helps others on how to vote for the presidential election. She is very aware of the situation in her country, and has been very vocal about politics since the very beginning.
Some readers might find her annoying or is a perfectionist since she loved correcting other people’s mistakes when it comes to politics. From my point of view, she did the right thing. I admit that she was often correcting others but she was educating them when it comes to politics, and she was telling them what they did wrong and how they should do better instead of letting those people stay ignorant. I can’t blame her for doing what’s right, it’s not like she was attacking them or being mean and rude in the first place.
I liked her character the most. She had a lot of courage for doing that. One of my favorite moment from the book was when she first met Colby’s friends, and they were being rude to her and made fun of politics. They are also the most ignorant people she ever met. I was nervous to see how she will handle his friends, but she really surprised me by putting his friends in their own place. She did that singlehandedly on her own without any help or anyone to back her up. She was really brave and tough, and she definitely knew how to stood up for herself. At that moment, I wish I can be like her. I admired how much strength she had in her.
The only thing I disliked about her is her dishonesty. Keeping secrets from her best friend, and telling small lies to her best friend are bad because the outcome won’t always be good. Everyone can easily predicted that it would be bad once her secrets are out. I just don’t get the purpose of characters keeping secrets—be it big or small. I know being honest can be hard but try to at least practice on how to tell the truth no matter how hard it is. Secrets like the one she kept and the one like her best friend kept are the kind of secrets that can break a friendship. It was’t just Meg who was at fault, her best friend, Emily, was too.
I get how Meg was conflicted about the whole college thing but I was really glad she followed what she already known by heart instead of following what Emily told her to. Truthfully, Emily was kind of controlling, like whatever she did Meg should followed too. It was like Meg only did half of the things she did just to please Emily or else her best friend would be disappointed and being a typical judgmental person. I never really like their friendship or Emily to begin with, because there are many errors in their friendship and Emily wasn’t really a positive person either.
I think Meg deserve a much better friend than Emily. Her own best friend literally betrayed her behind her back and that was unforgivable to me. The betrayal Emily did was bigger than anyone can expect but my suspicion about her was correct. I was glad that Meg stood up for herself a lot and then calling out Emily for being too controlling and too judgmental. Meg really did the right thing, she was better off without her so-called best friend.
Colby on the other hand is the total opposite. I can see why the author specifically chose him to be the one who can take on Meg. He challenged her in a way nobody else can, he infuriates her like she did him, and he was the only one who can see the error in Meg’s life and confronted her about it and helped her improve herself. He was a bit ignorant and doesn’t care about politics at all which I truly get, and I can’t blame him for not wanting to have anything to do with it because politics can be too complicated to understand and it can also be a lot messy.
Colby’s life was very rough and he was also struggling with his job. What he lost in his life and his ‘not quite good’ living situation, I understand why he’d been acting so cold, quiet, nervous, and seemed angry most of the time. He might not have the best life but he does put a lot of effort in his works and trying his best to get a new job that can help him thrive and help his family. I admired his determination to do more so that he can gain more even when he was in the middle of giving up.
What hurt the most was seeing how he reacted to the painful memory of losing the one person who means a lot to him, the way he just sat quietly and trying so hard not to cry made my heart sad. He does deserve a better life and perhaps a better group of friends too. I loved the ending so much, it really showed he grew a lot as a person and he also started to pay more attention to politics. He was really trying to educate himself on his own but also with the help of Meg too. Lastly, his character development was solid, and it really made him become a lot wiser and a much better person.
His character showed the reality of what life was like for the people who aren’t rich or doesn’t have enough money to support their daily life, while Meg’s character showed how rich people live their lives. I can definitely see that these two are extremely the total opposites of each other and yet they sort of balanced one another which is why I really loved them together.
Meg and Colby’s relationship had its up and down moments. They’ve spent the majority of their time arguing with one another, offending and provoking each other, and getting mad at each other over big and small things. It was so exhausting to see the two of them like that even though I understand why. I wished the author doesn’t make these two characters arguing for the majority of the time.
At first, it was started from a phone call and then they started to call each other on the phone too often to share the updates of their day-to-day lives, and then discussing things with each other but most of those discussions led to them arguing instead. I really liked seeing Meg and Colby talking on the phone and shared how their day was like and then asking what the other was up to. I wondered at one point if they were ever going to plan a meet up because it would be frustrating if the whole book just spend on these two talking on the phone to communicate with each other without physically meet each other, but thankfully there was a meet up and it was kind of a disaster, like I’m net even surprised. I knew things wouldn’t go so well once Meg decided to meet Colby’s friends.
I loved the fact that Colby still stayed with Meg and gave her advice despite how much he was annoyed with her for talking about politics most of the time. He was also there for Meg when things with her family got so tough, and so was she when Colby needed her the most because of what happened in his life.
The only thing I wasn’t convinced about is Colby’s feelings for Joanna. He definitely had a crush on her and yet I feel like he still likes her since he couldn’t stop comparing what it was like to be in her presence and what it was like to be in Meg’s presence. At the end of the story, he still feel guilty for stringing her along and for not being honest about how he felt for her. He said he loved Meg and not Joanna but his action sometimes says otherwise, so it was hard for me to believe him.
I’m just glad he picked Meg because they have something in common and they just clicked. They are better suited with each other than someone else. Meg and Mason was sweet too but their relationship felt so bland to me, and I don’t feel any romantic connection between them. As for Colby and Joanna, it felt really weird if they were to date each other since they are friends at best and there wasn’t any romantic chemistry between the two, so if they were to be paired up as a couple then they would be just as bland as Meg and Mason.
Colby and Meg is a much better pairing. They bring enough balance into their relationship, and their differences are what makes them better as a couple and just look pretty convincing. There wasn’t much development being made to their relationship, but I loved seeing how they grew from ‘two strangers who talked on the phone’ to ‘two people who have so many differences and yet can still be friends’ to ‘two people who fell in love with each other despite all the flaws and the differences in their social status and yet still managed to support each other and always be there for one another when life gets hard and tried so hard to make an effort in improving themselves and their relationship.’ They have an undeniably a very strong chemistry, and they are just perfect for each other. Their romance as an overall was beautiful and it was so delightful to see these two together. I was so happy they found each other.
The book is overall very enjoyable. There’s a lot of improvement I can see from the author’s writing which makes reading this book more easy. It was a really good and nice story that focusing on politics, family, friendship, romantic relationship, and daily struggles. This book sends a lot of positive messages to its readers. I hope a lot of people would read this book and I also hope they do enjoy Meg and Colby’s story just as much as I did.