Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Thank you, Bloomsbury, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
We were from two different worlds once: popular boy and nerdy girl. We’re still from two different worlds: cop’s daughter and criminal’s son.
Brigid Kemmerer has officially become one of my beloved authors. I’ve read three of her books (A Curse So Dark and Lonely is my favorite so far), and none of them received less than four stars. Strangely, even though her contemporary novels have serious or melancholic themes, I find them easy to read. I didn’t expect that I would be a fan of sad love stories with very flawed characters.
Call It What You Want follows the same formula, but the plot also goes in unpredictable directions. The protagonists, Rob and Maegan, are infamous in school. The former’s father attempted to commit suicide after being involved in a phishing scheme, while the latter was caught cheating during the SAT. Both characters are at the bottom of the social ladder, but they still belong to different circles. Worlds collide when Rob and Meagan are forced to complete a math project together. A hesitant friendship ensues, and the possibility of Something More becomes hard to disregard.
Since their scandalous backstories were given from the very beginning, I was immediately invested in Rob and Maegan. I didn’t necessarily like them, but I looked forward to seeing them grow as characters. Between the two, Rob was more “innocent.” After all, he had nothing to do with his dad’s crime. On the other hand, Maegan had no one to blame but herself for her bad reputation. She confessed that she cheated in hopes of outshining Samantha, her lacrosse scholar of a sister. Little did Maegan know that her sister also had a scandal to deal with. This one-sided sibling rivalry really wasn’t my cup of tea.
Halfway through the book, Rob began to live up to his peers’ negative expectations, making it hard for Meagan to be with him. The plot became philosophical in that it evoked questions such as “Is it bad to steal things from corrupt people who don’t really need them?” and “Should you tell the truth if it means hurting or breaking your family?” I already knew the answers to these ethical queries because of my Christian upbringing. Still, it was nice to take comfort in my beliefs and witness the characters’ journey to enlightenment. I heartily agree with their realization that one mistake doesn’t define you. Also, our shortcomings are there for a reason: to encourage us to become better people.
Ultimately, Call It What You Want is a profound commentary on morality. Rest assured, it’s anything but boring. Rob and Meagan might be unlikable at first, but their humility and perseverance will grow on you. If you’re looking for something that will warm your heart and stimulate your mind, I encourage you to check out this book and Brigid’s other works.