He Said She Said by Kwame Alexander ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: November 19, 2013
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: South Carolina, arts education, opposites attract, diverse YA
Format read: ARC sent to me by Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner. (Thanks!)
Summary: The last thing Claudia wants to do is be stuck working on a project with Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls, high school football player star and a guy who has been with just about every girl at their school. But when T-Diddy bets his friends he can get with Claudia, he gets involved with her latest cause: the lost of arts education in their school. Can they become friends? Will T-Diddy’s reputation with ladies be ruined? Will Claudia let her guard down? And most importantly, will they save all the extracurricular in their school by putting their heads together?
I had no idea what to expect from this book especially with a character named T-Diddy who thinks Claudia has “a butt for days.” But you know what? I laughed, I smiled, and I totally enjoyed reading He Said, She Said.
They say opposite attract but Claudia is not having any of T-Diddy’s advances and he is sure she won’t be able to resist him. Told in alternating chapters from each of their POVs, the reader is in on the innermost thoughts of Claudia and Omar (she refuses to call him T-Diddy because it’s silly). You see, Claudia is Harvard bound and doesn’t have the patience for high school boys, but when the school board cuts arts at their school and all the students respond so well to Omar’s help with the cause, she has no choice but to work with him and evoke some change. Suddenly, Omar is like… uh oh, is Claudia more than someone I want to just spend one night with?
THINGS ARE CHANGING.
He Said, She Said is definitely one of those books that shows us we shouldn’t be quick to judge people. (Even though we are all so guilty of this.) Both Omar and Claudia are surprised about what they find out about each other as they spend more time together. But nothing’s easy. Not getting closer, not bringing marching band and art back to school, and certainly not their pasts. The author integrates social media updates via Facebook and Twitter, tracking the “silent classroom” movement Omar and Claudia organize to get the school board’s attention, flirtation (a.k.a bickering) between Omar and Claudia, and a typical pinch of high school drama. This addition really speeds up the pace of the book and was a fun way to get to know these students.
Honestly, I could barely put this down without picking it back up almost immediately.
Vibrant dialogue, clever use of social media, a unique romance (that doesn’t discount individuality), and, most importantly, issues that plague our schools all the time (but I barely find in my books) were so well advocated for in He Said, She Said. I love being surprised by a book and, best of all, discovering a new writer.
I will be sure to have my eye out for Alexander’s next book.