Things Chloe Knew:
Her sister Ivy was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan’s brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.
Things Chloe Should Have Known:
Set-ups are complicated. Ethan would be a perfect boyfriend…for someone other than Ivy. David is the one person who really gets Chloe.
An unforgettable story about autism, sisterhood, and first love that’s perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Sophie Kinsella, and Sarah Dessen. New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things Julie Buxbaum raved: “I couldn’t put it down.”
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.
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 list...
March 2017 ALAN Pick!
One of Bustle's "16 Best Young Adults Books Coming in March 2017"
One of Children's Book Review's “Best New Young Adult Books March 2017"
"This hilarious, sweet and romantic book reminds us that if we open our hearts, life offers up so many wonderful kinds of normal."
"There’s just something about [LaZebnik's] writing that keeps me coming back. Her characters have fully realized lives; she strikes a great balance in her stories between the romantic and the familial... [LaZebnik] explores particularly complicated sibling relationships here, and does so in a way you can feel, in equal parts, the devotion and frustration leaping off the page."
—Forever Young Adult
"LaZebnik’s wise and tender new book...is [a] touching story of two sisters."
—The Huffington Post
"More a love story about sisterhood than romantic, it's a story that will illuminate what it's like to live an ordinary teenage life when you have autism.”
"We highly recommend Things I Should Have Known...a thought-provoking portrayal of autism and the people it touches."
"LaZebnik hits it out of the park with her story about pretty, popular Chloe and her loving relationship with her older, autistic sister, Ivy... With perceptiveness and ample skill, LaZebnik paints a vivid picture of what the sibling of a person with high-functioning autism might go through. Never resorting to stereotype, she depicts appealing, three-dimensional characters who flesh out a narrative that is compassionate, tender, funny, and wise all at once. This insightful, well-written story will entertain readers while inspiring meaningful empathy."
—Booklist, starred review
"Readers with special needs siblings are the natural audience for this, but the wit holds broad appeal, and the mostly nonjudgmental insights will certainly give readers a new perspective on young adults on the spectrum and those who love, protect, and advocate for them."
“In this insightful account of misconceptions, family conflict, and the ironies of love, LaZebnik (Wrong About the Guy) examines the evolution of several relationships. . . . Writing with honesty and wit, LaZebnik offers a thought-provoking portrayal of how people can come together despite, or perhaps because of, their differences.”
"An eye-opening look at autism and those it touches."
"This story about a girl who upends her own life by trying to help someone else is a winning read for young people ready for a realistic romance about life’s challenges."
—School Library Journal
"Characterization here is spot on, as LaZebnik ably depicts the speech patterns and behaviors characteristic of people on the spectrum as well as very different versions of sibling, parental, and stepparental response… Readers with special needs siblings are the natural audience for this, but the wit holds broad appeal, and [the book] will certainly give readers a new perspective on young adults on the spectrum and those who love, protect, and advocate for them."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A charmingly honest, insightful story about love, family, and frozen yogurt. So good you'll finish it in one sitting!”
—Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything and Extraordinary Means
“Things I Should Have Known is funny, compassionate, and loving. LaZebnik writes with authority and ease, capturing the complexities of sibling bonds and first love, and crafting characters to root for from start to finish.”
—Emma Mills, author of First & Then
"At once romantic and touching, perceptive and honest, Things I Should Have Known is about first love, the bonds of sisterhood, and living your most authentic life. I couldn’t put it down."
—Julie Buxbaum, author of Tell Me Three Things
“A fiercely honest and surprising story about family, first love, and the beauty of individuality. LaZebnik reminds us that sometimes the most wonderful things in life are the things you never expected.”
—Ashley Blake, author of Suffer Love
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