Pages: 322 pages, paperback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can't walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit - a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return. Matthew has his own set of challenges - a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can't explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him...
This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there's magic in it.
My review: Well, I almost didn't read Amy & Matthew, and what a mistake that would have been! For some reason I didn't find myself drawn in by the summary or cover and I left it on my shelf for a few weeks before I decided to give it a go, though I have to admit I was fully prepared to not get drawn into the story... Fast forward to two hours later when I closed the book and wiped tears from my face and I realised I'd majorly, majorly underestimated this book.
Amy, born with cerebral palsy, is well aware of her physical limitations but she refuses to let that dictate her life or stop her doing the things she feels passionate about, and in her senior year she feels passionate about making friends. Matthew, whose mind is forever preoccupied by anxiety and OCD, becomes one of Amy's peer helpers, something that changes both of their lives more than they could ever have imagined.
McGovern does an absolutely phenomenal job at writing about life with cerebral palsy and OCD with honesty, integrity and humour. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the lines the characters came out with, particularly Amy, who has the sort of dry sense of humour I love. So often 'issues' are written about with such brevity that the message can come across as too preachy but everything in Amy & Matthew feels natural and honest.
Amy and Matthew's story is a realistic one - it isn't smooth from the get go and they certainly have (more than?) their fair share of issues within the relationship, but it's this real relationship that makes the book so strong. Amy and Matthew prove that love doesn't land on your lap one day without any effort - real life takes hard work and there will be some days when it feels like everything is falling apart, but it's where you go when you're at rock bottom that really counts - and that's the main thing I took away from the book.
Amy & Matthew is an entertaining read but it also feels important, and I want to put this in the hands of everybody who asks me for a YA recommendation. This has true crossover appeal and it's books like this that show just how powerful and richly vibrant YA is.