Fun, entertaining, and election-year timely


Meg wouldn’t call her life exciting, but at least it’s predictable. For example, Emily has been her best friend since kindergarten, and they plan to both attend Cornell in the fall. Because of her passion for politics and law, Meg volunteers at WeCount, a voter registration call center near her home in Philadelphia. Her job is to call people in swing states and convince them to vote.

One of those calls is to Ohio, where Colby, a cynical and critical boy about her age, picks up the phone. Working a dead-end job and dealing with family issues, Colby doesn't see a future for himself - and definitely isn't going to listen to a rich white girl telling him why he has to vote. He hangs up, but that call is the start of a series of nightly conversations. With just a few words, Colby dismantles everything Meg believes about her perfectly predictable world. Even though they couldn’t be more different, a friendship begins and a relationship develops.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (13):
My favourite part of this novel is how the different perspectives are portrayed. Meg is strong and opinionated, and Colby’s contrasting view adds a whole other dimension to the plot. In addition, the characters show remarkable development, learning to express and stand for their ideas in a way that is more mature and well-informed. It is extremely interesting to observe this growth, as both Meg and Colby experience many parallels in their journeys.

I also love the slight introduction to activism and politics in ways that don't overload or swam the plot in unnecessary details. You Say It First doesn’t really deal with the concepts of youth voting like it is advertised but it is still a cute and lighthearted read with plenty of interesting content. 

There are times when the writing style is a clunky and hard to follow. The initial short and sweet style is juxtaposed with random instances of long, flowery metaphor. Breaking the reading flow makes the story more complicated and difficult to understand. Additionally, the relationship between Meg and Colby was negative and strained, often ending in screaming matches via telephone. The main selling point of their friendship is the ability to be honest with each other, but it is unrealistic to believe that this one quality would be enough to draw such different characters together. The story does contain some expletives and would be best suited for an audience ages 12+. 

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

While it may seem that this is an "opposites attract" romance, Meg and Colby present as deeper characters, modeling for readers effective communication and persuasian ... in a way that keeps them wanting answers to their questions (NOT a boring textbook romance).

Content Awareness Factors:

Our reviewer notes profanity is part of the story.

Type of Book:
This is a realistic, contemporary fiction story set in in an election year.
Educational Themes:

Honesty, trust, friendship, persuasive discussion, listening, keeping an open mind ... all of these are great themes that can be drawn from this story. Readers interested in activism or political science may also find nuggest about politics or community service that they want to follow up on.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
15 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
15 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 13
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow. The story is refreshing and high school seniors will be able to relate to some of the plot elements.

Title You Say It First
Author Katie Cotugno
Publisher Balzer + Bray, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2020
ISBN 9780062674128
Material Hard Cover
Cost $18.99
Genres Friendship, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
be the star you are
Reminder: Cover images, and links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.

You May Also Like...

Check out these books you may also like


Emma Lord
Wednesday Books © 2020
be the star you are


Casey McQuiston
St. Martins Press, Imprint Macmillan Publishers © 2019
be the star you are


Author Anna Jarzab
Publisher Inkyard Press © 2020
ISBN 9781335050236


Author Alex Light
Publisher HarperTeen, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2020
ISBN 9780062918055


Author Amanda Sellet
Publisher HMH Books for Young Readers © 2020
ISBN 9780358156611


Declare Yourself
Collins, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2008
be the star you are