So I have to say that I at first was pretty delighted with this book. I loved the two leads, we have David and Kit and the circumstances surrounding them that have them developing a friendship and something more. Then, we start to have some problematic things happening such as David's sister telling him to make sure that Kit doesn't put him in the friend zone. At this point we readers know that David doesn't even have any friends at school, so his sister should just be happy that he has made a new friend. We also get comments made about his clothes and hair and then his sister does a Pretty Woman style make-over and everyone thinks he is hot. There are some problematic adults in this one too (David's parents, his guitar teacher, the school principal, and Kit's mom and her "Uncle Jack."). Buxbaum also left some loose threads dangling in the end which I don't know if she thought things had been resolved sufficiently or what.
"What to Say Next" is about David and Kit. Both are teens going to Mapleview High who don't feel a part of things for different reasons.
Kit is a biracial teen (her mother is Indian and her father is white) who is dealing with losing her father in a car accident. She doesn't feel as if she fits with her two best friends anymore and resents that everyone just seems to want her to return to who she was before her father died. She sits with David at lunch one day since she figured that he would be quiet and not talk to her. Instead, an unlikely friendship blooms between these two.
David is a high functioning autistic teenage boy who has no friends if you don't count his sister Miney and his parents. He likes Kit for a lot of reasons and his notebook that he uses to remind him of things has a lot about Kit in there. When Kit and he start to talk to each other more and more, he starts to hope that they are friends. When things turn out to possibly be more romantic, a few things pop up to get in the way.
I really did enjoy Kit and David. Buxbaum did a good job of showing both of their POVs in their chapters. She kept both voices authentic. I have a few relatives who are autistic and I think she did a good job with some of the comments that David makes. However, there were a few things that stuck out to me that sounded weird such as him saying that he can make eye contact which I went huh about. Both of my relatives make eye contact and like hugs and even like to sit near me on the couch while we discuss things. I think a few reviewers mention where Buxbaum got things wrong with regards to autism so I would read those reviews.
The secondary characters were a bit problematic for me. First off, when you hear David describe his relationship with his sister Miney it sounded fantastic. You had someone that is in his corner and you find out later on why she wrote out a list of people never to be trusted (that whole story when revealed was heartbreaking) but she definitely needed to be brought into 2017 with understanding male/female friendships and how the friend zone is not a thing. I also hated her forcing David to have a makeover. I don't even get why David agreed to it since he says repeatedly he likes his clothes because they feel good against his skin. The stuff she bought (except for the cashmere) sounded like it was harsh. And when you have Kit's POV mentioning she know gets why David used to dress the way he did prior to his makeover (he wore similar clothes to his dad) I wish that David or his sister had made a comment about that. It just felt weird how we were getting reveals about the other person in the other person's POV chapter.
David's parents sounded interesting, but they did something sneaky that I didn't approve of (no spoilers) which sounded like they didn't even have to discuss later with David which is a bit outrageous to me. I also question whether David's father is autistic, it sounded like he may be based on descriptions, but Buxbaum doesn't come right out and say it and it's just left hanging there.
Kit's mother and her father seemed sketched out and not fully developed. Same with her "Uncle Jack." We get some reveals happening, I just wish that Buxbaum had set it up differently.
The bullies in this school sounded sadly familiar. I was pretty disgusted though with the school principal in this one. I don't know if the dialogue and mindset is realistic or not. I hope not, cause if someone acted and said this crap to me I would be suing and also possibly lifting up a desk to put it on top of the person.
The writing was good and I thought the flow worked too. I wasn't bored while reading.
The setting takes place mostly at the high school with Kit and David's home/rooms featuring pretty heavily too.
I thought the ending was good, but once again I don't know if it was realistic or not. I don't want to spoil, but there is pretty big bump that I don't know if it would have been possibly to get over in real life. And I think that not all of the threads were wrapped up.