REVIEW: ‘Tell Me Three Things’ provides an engaging plot with mystery, teenage drama


Graphic Tisya Singh

Staff Writer Leona Sungkharom writes that “Tell Me Three Things” provides relatable characters, making the novel appealing throughout.

Leona Sungkharom, Staff Writer

After her life is thrown out of order, a teenage girl finds herself scrambling to put it back together while away from her childhood home and friends. Julie Buxbaum gives an engaging and heartfelt plot as readers follow the main character, Jessie, through the ups and downs of a new life.

The book starts with Jessie moving from Chicago to Los Angeles after her father abruptly marries Rachel, a wealthy widow he met online. While Jessie is skeptical and feels betrayed by her father’s new marriage, she has much greater problems as she tries to find her place in a new school. 

That is, until she receives an anonymous email from “SN,” short for “Somebody/Nobody.” SN helps guide Jessie through her new life at school and gives her advice on how to navigate around the world of Los Angeles. As time goes on, Jessie begins to grow curious about who SN really is and how they know her so well.

Though suspicious, Jessie accepts the help of SN and comes to learn that SN is a smart and supportive guide, advising on not only who to befriend but also who to avoid and how to understand the teachers at the school. Jessie is able to slowly adapt to her new life in LA, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. She’s targeted by the girls at her school and struggles with the absence of her best friend from Chicago.

From the very start, Buxbaum’s book is engaging and pulls the reader in immediately by presenting a conflict and throwing Jessie into a new environment. While the true mystery of SN isn’t presented until later in the book, Buxbaum makes the book captivating even from the very beginning.

Buxbaum created very relatable characters that make it easy to connect with their storylines—specifically, with Jessie’s emotions. This book gives a unique perspective on a normal girl’s life that readers may not think too much about. While Buxbaum’s book has a fun and mysterious romance, she also weaves in realistic struggles between family and friends. 

Although the novel is very compelling, it was somewhat predictable. As Jessie continues to unravel the mystery of SN, the readers might piece together the answer before she does, which can lead the reveal at the end to be somewhat expected and flat.

However, despite the overall familiar territory of an oblivious protagonist, a mean-girl antagonist and a secret admirer, Buxbaum captures the reader in an authentically written novel. It’s a realistic depiction of grief, expressing how Jessie and other characters respond to loss and changes while keeping the plot devoid of cliches.

If you love a book with a compelling plot and mysterious romance, “Tell Me Three Things” is just the book for you!