When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.
Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…
This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?
Here’s a little annectode for y’all: out of all the books I had on my TBR, Call It What You Want was the one I was the least excited to pick up. It’s not that I had anything against it, but there were other books by Brigid Kemmerer I wanted to get to before this one. But I was at the bookstore once, and my mom was feeling generous, and offered to buy any book I picked up. Since this was one was the cheapest, we went to check out.
Immediately after I paid for the book, I felt a big regretful. I didn’t even know that much about it and the premise didn’t even sound *that* interesting. I thought about returning it, but didn’t want to sound ungrateful, since my mom had literally just bought it. So I went home and read it.
And, oof, I am so, so, so glad I did.
“Other people don’t have the challenges we have… but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own.”
- Everyone kinda sucks. I know it sounds a bit contradictory, that my favorite thing about this book was how I couldn’t truly like any of the characters. But that’s the thing. I really enjoy myself some morally grey characters, but I feel like they’re always written the same way: a badboy with daddy issues. But Call It What You Want offered so much more than that. These characters were doing a lot of questionable things, but I still felt sympathy and compassion for all they were going through. It was very conflicting, but amazing at the same time.
- The side characters. I love whenever a book can develop its side characters as much as the main ones. It’s so hard to achieve, but Bridgid Kemmerer did it almost effortlessly. I loved Owen – a friend that Rob makes throughout the book – for his hilarious honesty; I loved Connor – Rob’s former best friend – even if he was a total jerk; I loved Samantha – Meagan’s sister -, for being a badass with too many feelings; I loved Rachel and Drew – for being honest about how race privilege allowed Rob and Meagan to get away with the stuff they’d done. They were just as interesting as our protagonists and had just as much to offer.
- Family means a lot. I am always happy to see family being a big role on characters’ lives, as I feel like it is in mine and it’s relatable for a lot of other people out there as well. Don’t be fooled – these characters families are just as bad as they are sometimes, but I still loved their role throughout the story and how they offered both comfort and stress, as I feel like all families do.
- The writing style. I didn’t feel like one of the perspectives was stronger than the other, though I did like Rob better, but that’s because I am a male character hoe. They were both very well written and distinct. I feel like Rob sounded so much like a seventeen year old boy and I don’t know how to explain it, because he exuded both the asshole energy that I find any straight teenage boy has as default, but also a lot of feelings that added to his complexity.
“When you’ve lost everything,’ he says, ‘sometimes you don’t see anything wrong with taking a little back.”
The only thing I can name that made me a bit frustrated was the ending. As much as I appreciate how the author concluded it, considering everything the characters had been through, it happened way too quickly in my opinion. I would’ve really liked to have just a couple more pages, so we could tie some loose ends and give better closure to the characters and their relationships.
Overall, this is a book I’d recommend for people who enjoy reading about morally grey characters. You have to be open to disagree with these characters and roll your eyes at some of their actions, because that’s sort of the point. Call It What You Want does not claim to be a perfect story, following perfect characters. They’re not supposed to be role models – they’re supposed to be real.
I loved the book for exact those reasons, but I understand that it can not work for everyone. Nonetheless, I am really happy I decided to pick this book up out of all the options I had at the bookstore that day. I could’ve missed out on the chance to read an amazing story.
“One choice doesn’t determine your whole future.”
Have you read Call It What You Want? Or any other book by Brigid Kemmerer? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments! And if you have any recommendations for books with morally grey characters, please share them in the comments too!