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Say You'll Remember Me


Say You'll Remember Me

I am a Katie McGarry addict. I will read absolutely anything she writes, because I know she won’t disappoint. I have read just about all of her books (I only haven’t read a few digital only ones), and I’ve enjoyed every one. Katie has a trademark mix of romance, humor and real life that she brings to everything she writes. She has previously written the Pushing the Limits series, which has five books, and the Thunder Road series, which has three books. SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME is a standalone novel.

We start off the novel knowing a couple things: The main character, Elle, is daughter of the governor and she feels pressured to be someone she’s not. The second main character, Drix, was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, but believes someone he cares about did. They first meet by chance, but soon realize they will be in each other’s lives more than they initially realized. Because Drix is part of Elle’s father’s project to combat the school-to-prison pipeline. Not only that, but he’s the poster child for it.

"I think SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME will be a great conversation starter, and I hope others will be inspired by how Elle and Drix react to the situation."

I really liked Elle, though I had trouble relating to her at times. For most of her life, Elle has accepted what her parents told her. She’s let them run her life, to the point that she doesn’t have one at all. All her friends and activities are through them. It’s only by meeting Drix, that she starts to gain some perspective, as well as find something, or someone, to fight for. Elle has never had a reason to stand up to her parents, but as she makes new friends, she begins to realize that her life isn’t as picturesque as it seems. The points in the book where Elle finally started to stand up for herself made me want to pump my fist in the air and yell “Yes!” It was amazing to see her bloom over the course of the book.

Drix is a complicated guy. He pled guilty to a crime he didn’t commit to protect who he believed committed the crime. But he soon realizes that might not have been the case. But even though he knows he’s not a criminal, he also acknowledges that he learned something from Second Chance program set up by Elle’s father. He has returned to everyday living with a new lease on life, but he doesn’t really know who he is anymore. I really liked being in Drix’s head. I loved seeing him come back to life, and discover who he is.

I notice a lot of people complain about the lack of parents in YA books. Or if there are parents, they are “bad.” Elle’s parents are there all the time, but they’re not bad, per se. One thing I think this book shows really well is how it is hard to get in to politics and keep your soul intact. The easy way to get the money and support one needs to run for Congress --- which is what Elle’s father is doing --- is to sell your soul in the process. This comes up in a few ways in the books. One instance is at a fundraiser when Elle is forced to dance with a slime ball who donates to her father’s campaign. She hates him, and claims her father does too, but he is still invited to events, and she is still forced to dance with him. Another example comes in the character known as Andrew. He is first introduced at the beginning of the book, and keeps coming up in the background. He is also a ball of slime, but a charismatic one, at least when it comes to adults. Elle’s parents force her to spend time with him as he acts as a babysitter/bodyguard of sorts during the campaign. The intuitive reader can see where this is going before it plays out on the page. Because of how invested they are in the campaign, Elle’s parents tend to go too far in the name of victory. Other instances come up later, but they happen to be spoilers and so I will let you figure those out for yourself.

With so many issues in our current climate, both political and otherwise, SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME is especially timely. The main way is in the featuring of the school-to-prison pipeline. For those who haven’t heard that phrase before, it is the systemic problem of charging youth, specifically poor and/or black youth, with petty crimes and sending them to juvenile detention. Even if they receive an education while there, students usually return to school behind their peers, and simply can’t catch up. Once this process starts, students will often fall farther behind, not graduate, or go back to juvie. Eventually, these same students become adults, and move from juvie to prison. For a more in-depth look, here is a link to the ACLU’s page on the school-to-prison pipeline. Drix is white, but he comes from a poor family in a poor neighborhood and lacks parental support. When he is charged with robbing a convenience store, he is railroaded into accepting a plea deal. Basically, the prosecutor threatens to send him to prison instead of juvie if he is found guilty in an actual trial. Since he’s assigned an overworked public defendant, and knows he can’t afford a good lawyer, he takes the plea instead of risking serving time in prison. This is something that occurs all too frequently in our own world. This is not a topic I see frequently discussed in YA fiction, despite the fact that this happens to young adults. I think SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME will be a great conversation starter, and I hope others will be inspired by how Elle and Drix react to the situation.

This review is getting pretty long, so I’m just going to finish with this. While SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME tackles some tough subjects, it is also a romance. It’s about two teens finding each other despite their circumstances. Elle and Drix can serve as an inspiration, both in what they face and how they face it. They transform the hate they receive into love for each other. In the end, SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME is a story about love. Romantic love. Love for a friend. But most importantly, love for family. I’ve only talked about Drix and Elle, but there are so many more characters in this book that really make it what it is.

If you’ve read one of Katie McGarry’s books previously, I definitely recommend this one as well. If there’s a budding activist in your life, or you are one yourself, this is definitely the book to read. It will make you mad at times, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Reviewed by Isabel C., Teen Board Member on February 14, 2018

Say You'll Remember Me
by Katie McGarry