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Review: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How to Say I Love You Out Loud
Karole Cozzo

Genre: YA Contemporary
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: August 4, 2015
by Swoon Reads

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?


How to Say I Love You Out Loud is a powerful coming-of-age story about a teen girl trying to make a place for herself in the world.

I normally don't read novels about teenage girls trying to fit into school and who are a little boy crazy. I'm that girl whose first bike was Power Rangers themed and, given a choice, would rather watch Antman than Inside Out. What drew me to this novel was the family element—because I firmly believe that there are not enough novels out there containing strong family relations, and I'm always on the lookout for more.

Frankly, How to Say I Love You Out Loud is, at its heart, the story about a teenage girl trying to fit in. She knows that she's a terrible person for not wanting to be associated with her brother and for wanting to keep him hidden. That's what costs her a real, open relationship with the boy she likes and with the girl who's kind of a best friend to her. While Jordyn's cowardice made me cringe, I can relate to her feelings of wanting to hide the parts of her with which she is ashamed. We all have things that we don't want to share with the people we treasure because we know that it will make them see us in a less perfect light, and it takes getting used to—not being perfect.

While Jordyn matures over the course of the novel, there is not much character development in the supporting cast. Alex sounds like a great guy, but he goes out with Leighton, your stereotypical queen bee. It's not until later that he explains Leighton's good traits. I wish we'd gotten to see more of her good traits because she was a downright b****. (Pardon the language. I couldn't think of a better term.) As for Jordyn's two girl friends, we only see a little of Erin, and I honestly can't remember who Tanu is. I wouldn't have remembered she existed had Jordyn not invited her dress shopping towards the end of the novel. She doesn't get enough character development to play much of a role as far as I can remember.

Given all the issues that Jordyn faces, I am disappointed with the ending scene of the novel. While it shows that one part of her life gets fulfilled, I was really hoping to see her character growth topped off with something about family or her embracing her newfound identity. Instead, we get a makeout scene, which honestly seems to suggest that getting the guy is what matters most to her. I do understand that falling in love can cause a girl to prioritize her romantic life (been there, done that), but I believe it's important to assert that love isn't all a girl has to live for. Boyfriends can come and go, but our (true) friends, our family, and the lessons that we learn growing up will stay with us. That said, I was moved by Jordyn's speech about her brother and the meaning behind the title of the novel.

On a last note: the writing and organization was a little over the place. Events didn't quite flow into one another, and some areas were less developed than others. Some characters fell by the wayside; others weren't quite rounded out and fell flat and stereotypical. Overall, How to Say I Love You Out Loud is a solid debut novel. I'd be willing to give another Karole Cozzo novel a shot.

A copy was provided by Macmillan for review

Rating: 4 stars

  • N/A
  • Some Language (cussing)
  • Making out / kissing

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