Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.
Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.
|Sold by:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|File size:||4 MB|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Claire LaZebnik has written five novels for adults including Same As It Never Was (which was made into the ABC Family movie, Hello Sister, Goodbye Life), Knitting Under the Influence, and Families and Other Non-Returnable Gifts. Her young adult novels include Epic Fail, The Trouble with Flirting, The Last Best Kiss, and Wrong About the Guy (Harper Teen). She has also co-authored two books on autism; Overcoming Autism and Growing Up on the Spectrum. She has contributed to GQ, Self Magazine, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications, and to the anthology play Motherhood Out Loud. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives with her TV writer husband and four children, one of whom has autism. Visit her at clairelazebnik.com and on Twitter at @clairelazebnik.
Read an Excerpt
There’s a sweet burnt-jelly smell in the air. When I enter the kitchen, Ivy’s standing by the toaster.
“Hey, Ives. Making a snack?” I stick a mug of water in the microwave and get a tea bag out of the cabinet.
“Yeah.” In her pajamas, with her round face, big eyes, and blondish ponytail, she looks like an oversize five-year-old. She doesn’t say anything else. Ivy’s not a big conversationalist.
The toaster clicks, and by the time my tea is ready, Ivy is installed at the table, a Pop-Tart on a plate, a glass of cold milk at its side. She’s got her iPad in front of her, and she’s doing something on it—probably playing a game. I open my laptop to work on an English paper, and the two of us fall into companionable silence.
There are footsteps in the hallway and then Ron’s in the doorway, filling it up with his broad shoulders. He’s wearing his after-work uniform: sweatpants and a T-shirt with sleeves short enough to show his bulging biceps.
Ron’s beefy without being cut. His face is heavy, especially down at the jaw and chin, but he wears his light brown hair on the longer side in front, so he can thrust the mass of it back with his fingers—it’s a ridiculously youthful gesture for someone edging toward sixty, and I’m convinced he practices it in front of the mirror.
My mother married him over a year ago. He still feels like an intruder in our house. I don’t think he’ll ever not feel like one.
“Hey, there!” he says with unconvincing geniality. “Look at you two girls, working away! I’m going to assume you’re doing homework and not messaging boys.” He crosses to the refrigerator. “Your mom’s thirsty, and as usual, I’m waiting on her hand and foot.” He snaps his enormous hand like he’s got a whip in it. “Coosh-oo! She orders, and I obey.”
Neither of us responds. He grabs a half-empty bottle of wine from the fridge and two glasses from the cabinet. He’s heading back out when he notices the plate in front of Ivy.
“What’s that you’ve got there?”
He sighs. “Oh, Ivy,” he says in the overly gentle tone he always uses with her. “We’ve talked about this, haven’t we? About making better choices? About eating to fuel our bodies and not just because we’re bored?” Ron’s always trying to micromanage Ivy’s diet. He acts like it’s all about her health, but I eat just as much junk as she does and he never says anything to me about it, because I’m thinner than she is. Not that Ivy’s fat, exactly, just kind of solid. She’ll never be a supermodel, but that’s not exactly her destiny anyway, so who cares?
Other than Ron, I mean.
“I was hungry,” she says.
“Were you?” Ron says. “Were you really hungry? Because you ate quite a bit at dinner tonight. Quite a bit.” He leans against the side of the doorway, wineglass stems threaded through the fingers of one hand, bottle in the other. There’s a scar on the side of that hand—he claims he cut it as a teenager working in a lab one summer, but I bet it was from a broken beer bottle. He acts all cultured now, but I’m convinced he was a total bro back in the day. Probably beat up all the nerdy kids and high-fived his friends afterward. “A lot of what you ate was carbohydrates—potatoes and bread. You didn’t touch your salad.”
“It had peppers in it.” She appeals to me. “I don’t like peppers, right, Chloe?”
“No one does.”
“Chloe,” Ron says. “Don’t.” His voice tightens when he talks to me, but I prefer that to the patronizing tone he uses with my sister. Which he now slips back into. “You don’t have to finish that, Ivy. We can wrap it up, and you can have the rest for breakfast tomorrow. Or we can just throw it out—processed food like this belongs in the trash anyway, as far as I’m concerned.”
“But I’m hungry.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Don’t tell her whether or not she’s hungry,” I say. “It’s her body.”
“Can you just stop?” he snaps at me. “I’m trying to help her out here.” He flashes a strained smile in her direction. “I want to keep our sweet Ivy healthy.”
“Her health is fine,” I say, because it is—Ivy never gets sick. “You’re the one with high cholesterol. Worry about yourself. You really need that wine? Lot of calories in wine, you know.” I deliberately eye his waist—he’s always complaining to my mom that no matter how many sit-ups he does, he can’t get back to a size twenty-eight, so I know he’s self-conscious about it.
Ron stands up straighter, sucking in his stomach—it’s the kind of thing people do when you stare at their love handles. “When I want your advice, Chloe, I’ll ask for it. But don’t hold your breath.” He turns back to Ivy. “You could be so pretty,” he says. “I mean, you are so pretty. You don’t want to go and mess that up by eating so much junk food you get fat and pimply, do you? Don’t you want a boyfriend one day? And a husband? My mother got married when she was younger than you! Doesn’t that blow your mind?”
“I know,” Ivy says. “She was nineteen when she got married, and your father was twenty-three. You were born two years later in 1961. Mom was born in 1972. She’s eleven years younger than you.”
For a moment he blinks at her, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of accurate information she’s just thrown at him. Then he recovers. “Yeah, well . . . good. It’s good you remember. My point is you’re old enough to be thinking about boys and to care about how you look. Like Chloe.” He jerks his chin at me. “She always looks nice. I’ll give her that.”
I stifle a sarcastic retort—I don’t want to prolong this.
“Chloe’s really pretty,” Ivy says.
“So are you,” says Ron. “But you won’t be if you keep eating junk.”
She considers that, and while she considers it, she absently picks up the Pop-Tart and takes another bite of it.
“Stop eating that!” he says. “You’re not listening to me.”
“I am listening.”
It would be funny if I thought Ivy was deliberately provoking him. But Ivy doesn’t do stuff like that. All she wants is to eat her stupid Pop-Tart in peace.
“What’s going on in here?” It’s Mom, coming up behind Ron. Her hair is styled and she’s wearing makeup—she’s Ron’s receptionist, and he likes her to look “put together” for the office—but she changed when she got home and the T-shirt and sweats make her mascaraed eyes and curls look ridiculous. I don’t like when she wears that much makeup, anyway—it settles into every crease and makes her face look older than it is. Without it, she’s pretty, with big, wistful blue eyes and a small nose and mouth. She and Ivy look a lot alike.
Mom says, “What’s a girl got to do to get a glass of wine around here?”
“I was on my way.” Ron holds up the bottle and glasses. “But the girls and I started talking.”
Her eyes flicker from face to face, gauging the moods of everyone in the room. She says, a little too brightly, “I sound like the worst kind of mother, don’t I? Stop talking to my kids and bring me my wine!” She forces a girly laugh, then gives me a vaguely pleading look. I glance away and notice that Ivy has taken advantage of the distraction to quickly cram the rest of the Pop-Tart into her mouth. You go, Ivy.
“It’s okay,” Ron says to Mom. “I’ve exhausted my parenting skills for the evening anyway. These girls of yours . . .” He leaves it at that and steers her back into the hallway, where she tosses out another giggle-laugh.
She never used to laugh like that. She used to have this rare deep chuckle that often ended in a sigh. Nothing girlish about it at all. But a lot’s changed since she met Ron and even more since the day she told us she was going to marry him, “because you girls need a father.”
I said, “No, we don’t, and even to say that is an insult to lesbian parents everywhere,” which at least got her to stop saying it, but did nothing to prevent her from going ahead and marrying Ron, a guy she had met through some online dating site and whose profile she had first clicked on because a) she thought he was handsome (meh) and b) he said he didn’t have kids of his own and regretted it. (He’d been married once and divorced.)
Mom came back from their first date dazed and ecstatic. Things moved quickly after that. I think Ron must have liked how pliable she was, how willing to follow his lead when it came to exercise and diet—and raising kids, even though he had no experience in that last area. And Mom definitely liked having someone around to direct her. She’s never liked to be in charge of anything.
The thing about Mom is that she’s the kind of needy that makes people want to do stuff for her, not the kind that repels them. Ron was basically her white knight, charging in to fix her life for her. But I’m not so crazy about being a part of her life that he thinks needs fixing. And I’m even less crazy about watching him pick apart Ivy, who doesn’t have any anger or malice in her and so can’t defend herself against his attacks.
I’m her younger sister, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like I needed to protect and take care of her.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
*I did read an ARC version of this - thanks so much to HMH Teen for giving away a free copy of these a while (like, a longggggggggg while ago)!!* I said to myself, goodness, Mandy, you keep getting really early to work, so it's a perfect time to just read a few minutes of that ebook that you've had chilling on your Netgalley dashboard for a while. You can take your time with it and just fill your time during lunches and those early moments - and then next thing you know, I've devoured this book in two days. This was the rush and excitement that I've been missing in the past few months of books that I've been reading. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing the rush back. I found this book so light-hearted but so moving at the same time. These people are crushingly realistic. It's human and feeling and felt so real. You go through the highs and the lows with these characters and it was brilliant. I enjoyed this so much, but there were a few things that I wish that could have been done a little bit better. I can't speak about the accuracy of the autism rep, but from many of the reviews that I have read, it seems that it was pretty well on. It was treated with a lot of respect, and the author has a child with autism as well. This story brings autism to a new light and it definitely shows just how people can have microaggressions toward people on the autism spectrum that might not be as blatant. It was tough reading it at parts just to see how mean people can really be, but I think it's such an important read. The characters were great as well. I don't think there was a main character that I didn't love. I loved Chloe, David, Ivy, and Ethan. They were so realistic and so endearing. Chloe was a fantastic heroine, and you felt everything with her. I loved reading her voice, and from the moment she stepped on the page, I knew I was going to love her. While the parents were mostly book crap (although they were around!!! PARENTS THAT ARE AROUND!!!), the sibling relationship was amazinggggggggggggggggg. They cared so much for one another, and they showed the true dynamics of siblings. I LOVED IT I LOVED IT I LOVED IT. The romance/ship was adorable as well. I will admit that the change in ship was kind of totally abrupt when it could have been a bit smoother. The change happened so suddenly, I was just blinking at it, going, wait, this is happening now? Oh, well, okay. But I did love the ship and knew it was totally endgame. They brought out the best of each other, and it was great. The plot was interesting. For the most part, I loved it. I thought the whole matchmaking and deep characterization time was great. However, I kind of thought that some parts dragged out longer than necessary. I mean, I totally thought that the story ended a few times and then I looked down and realized I still had 15% to go? I get we were finishing up loose ends and I was still enjoying the story, but I kind of just wanted to be finished at the same time? But it was fun and all the twists and turns were great. Overall, this was a super fun and endearing novel. It had me smiling and just gave me a happy feeling when reading it. It's super addicting, too, and the characters, ship, and plot were interesting and love. There were a few small bumps in the road, but overall, it was such a delight while also bringing to light some important topics. 4 super high crowns and an Ariel rating!
*This book was received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* This was such a cute read about discovering a new kind of normal. Both Chloe and David have siblings on the spectrum; Chloe's older sister Ivy and David's brother Ethan. In an attempt to help her sister, Chloe sets up Ivy with Ethan starting a journey of not only self-discovery for Chloe but also discovery of who her sister Ivy really is and what she wants out of life. Not only that, but romance blossoms in unexpected places as Chloe and David are forced to spend more and more time together accompanying their siblings on dates. Overall, this was a sweet story that was well-written and had interesting characters.
It was good.
Things I Should Have Known is a story that showcases sibling relationships and the struggles of being different. We follow Chloe and David, classmates who are not friends, as they begin to connect through their autistic siblings. Things I Liked: The highlight of the book for me was the sibling relationships. I loved getting to see siblings who are each other’s champions, while also realistically being annoyed at them. Chloe and Ivy’s relationship and Ethan and David’s are both unique and universal. Chloe and David face challenges their classmates and friends don’t because of their autistic siblings. While they may get frustrated with each other, as all siblings do, they love, encourage, and support their siblings. I really loved Chloe and David’s personality. She was very sarcastic and witty. David was too, just in a less tactful way. Both characters were really easy to connect with through their humor. They also had really heartfelt moments that showed they weren’t one-note jokesters. I really loved the inclusion of Autism in the story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with autistic characters before, so it was nice to see them represented. The story did a really great job of showing how autistic people process thoughts, and react to everyday conversation and stimuli differently. Things I Didn’t Like: All of the parents in this story were pretty awful. Sure, there were a few good moments, but largely the parents were judgmental, absent, or apathetic. af I could have done without the romance that developed between Chloe and David. They had nice banter, and I understand how their friendship developed, but the romance was a little weak for me. This was a great story that really highlighted family, growth, and understanding. It was super easy to read, and was engaging throughout the entire story. This is a very human story that feels easily accessible and relatable.
I was expecting more of a romance. Simply based on the synopsis, I thought it would take center stage for this story in terms of the main plot but I found that wasn’t the case and I can’t say the story was necessarily lacking because of it but I couldn’t get into it. Contemporaries are always hit or miss for me. Usually, I don’t mind contemporary romances as much since I read romances pretty often and it’s a theme that I can connect to while reading. Which is why I thought I’d like Things I Should Have Known more than I actually did. This just wasn’t the right book for me. Briefly touching on that romance bit, I felt it was kind of forced at times but at others just… not really there. It takes a while to really get into it and by that point I kind of lost interest. But I definitely think it’s the right book for other readers and though the romance and my connection to the story wasn’t really present, there were a lot of amazing relationships between siblings and friends. I don’t have personal experience and can’t attest to the authenticity of this story and the experiences the characters go through as being siblings of characters with autism, it felt authentic. Real. Grounded. Obviously I wouldn’t say this is a good representation of autism for everyone on the spectrum because a) I don’t have the experience to warrant a statement like that, and b) as far as I’ve heard it’s different for everyone, much like most things are. But I think it represents these characters and their experiences well. Now while the characters were beautiful in their connections to each other, I can’t say I was a huge fan of Chloe. She just kind of annoyed me? And with her perspective dominating it meant slogging through the slower sections of the book a bit harder. But I think that comes down to the writing too, which I wasn’t a big fan of. It’s a personal preference, just not a style that clicked with me. Might be because of the genre and I’m just not well-read enough to appreciate it but I couldn’t bring myself to really get into it. I think this book is wonderfully diverse and addresses topics that I haven’t read about before, which was a really cool experience for me as a reader. Unfortunately, as a reader I’m also reading for entertainment/enjoyment and while certain elements of this book were great, it wasn’t the book for me. But I would definitely recommend anyone who’s added it to their TBRs to still check it out!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Publication Date: March 28, 2017 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): From the author of Epic Fail comes the story of Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy. Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal. What I Liked: Months ago, I received a galley of this book - it was sent unsolicited from Houghton Mifflin (and of course, receiving this galley in no way affected my opinion of the book). So I wasn't sure if I would read it, but recently, a few of my blogger pals read this book, and all of them really enjoyed the book. Throw in the fact that I really enjoyed the one LaZebnik book I've tried - The Last Best Kiss - and I knew I had to squeeze this one into my schedule somehow. I'm so glad I did, because it was a wonderful, thought-provoking, sweet story. With great diversity too! At a glance, Chloe Mitchell has a great life; she is smart and gets really good grades, her boyfriend is hot, athletic, and a fairly nice guy, and she seems really social and has a great group of friends. But behind closed doors, everything isn't as put-together as it seems. Chloe doesn't have the best relationship with her stepfather, or her mother (since her father died and her mom got remarried). Chloe's older sister is autistic, and Chloe is very protective of and careful with her sister. Chloe's friends don't know much about Ivy, and Chloe sometimes feels as isolated as Ivy. Chloe knows how lonely Ivy is, and so she gets Ivy to start hanging out with Ethan, a boy in Ivy's classes. Ethan is autistic as well, and when Ivy and Ethan hang out, Chloe comes along, as well as Ethan's brother David. David is one of the most annoying jerks that Chloe knows, but as she hangs out with him (and Ivy and Ethan) more, she realizes that he is somewhat antisocial and alone all the time because his devotion to his brother is similar to hers with Ivy. But what if Ethan isn't the right person for Ivy? What is David is the right person for Chloe? I don't really love or care for most YA contemporary novels that I come across - I'm much more of a fantasy girl, when it comes to YA. But certain YA contemporary authors have produced amazing books that really worked for me - like Kasie West, Emma Mills, Jenny Han, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Julie Buxbaum... I think it's safe for me to add Claire LaZebnik to that list. I'm two for two with books of hers that I've read! Reading from Chloe's POV was so entertaining and interesting. I love how selfless Chloe is - she sacrifices a lot of time and social opportunities to take care of Ivy or meet Ivy's needs or demands. And yet, Chloe is also good about not giving into to all of Ivy's demands - she does a fairly good job of taking care of herself. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Funny, quirky, honest, and heartwarming. I really loved this book. I was in the mood for something lighter than what I usually go for, and this was perfect: a well-written and inspirational young adult novel. I really enjoyed it. Chloe has an easy life at school. She's pretty, popular, and dating the best looking guy in school. He's friendly and seems very devoted to her, but he does have one issue: he doesn't really understand Chloe's big sister. Her sister Ivy is very important to her. Their father died years ago, and their mother remarried and seems a little more devoted to him than her children. Ivy is autistic, and Chloe feels very protective over her. When Ivy starts to ask some questions about Chloe and her boyfriend, Chloe realizes that Ivy might want a boyfriend too. It becomes her mission to find Ivy love. She encourages her to contact a boy in her class that she's talked about before, and they make plans to get together. Chloe is in for a surprise, though... the boy is accompanied by a younger sibling of his own: David, who's in her class. He's always come across as rude and arrogant, and Chloe isn't his biggest fan... but putting up with him is worth it if Ivy finds a new companion. I think I enjoyed this book even more because I have a close family member with special needs, though not autism. I identified with the frustration Chloe and David feel when strangers are rude and stare at their much loved siblings, simply because they happen to be a little bit different. Really cute story that's easy to read and become immersed in. I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
I've been in a reading rut for a while now and this quick read totally got me out of it. It was well written and handled all the struggles of having an autistic sibling wonderfully. Would recommend to anyone wanting a lovely story and a quick read.