Review: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer cover shows paper hearts lined up and one out of line.

Call It What You Want
Brigid Kemmerer
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published June 24, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Book Depository


When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Call It What You Want on Goodreads

My Review

Yay for a new Brigid Kemmerer book! I loved both LETTERS TO THE LOST and MORE THAN WE CAN TELL, so as soon as I heard about CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT, I wanted to read it.

I devoured this book in less than 24 hours, which is a pretty rare occurrence for me now that I have both a teenager and a toddler in the house. Falling in love with Rob and Maegan was so easy to do. Brigid Kemmerer is brilliant at creating these scruffy underdog characters with complex layers who are undervalued and underappreciated by the people around them.

CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT has more language and sexual content than I remember her earlier books having, though. See the content section below for more information.

I loved the characters’ journeys through the book. The story tackles a lot of situations where characters have to make really difficult choices. Doing the right thing is always the harder option, which is so true to real life, right?

I also thought it was cool that not all of Rob’s friends felt about him the way he expected them to. As he softened and allowed people to reach out to him, he discovered some people were doing so in ways that he previously didn’t notice or wrote off as sarcastic. That struck me as true to life, too. Sometimes we wall ourselves off from people when we’re afraid they’ll reject us, and then we feel totally abandoned by everyone when that isn’t the real way of things. So I felt like CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT was kind of an important reminder to me not to assume I know what everyone else is thinking.

One other note: the summary from Goodreads makes it sound like Maegan keeps her sister Sam’s pregnancy a secret from her parents. That’s not true. Her parents know about the pregnancy before the story begins. They do not, however, know the identity of the baby’s father and the reasons Sam doesn’t want to tell them.

If you’re a fan of Kemmerer’s other books or of underdog romance, put CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT at the top of your reading list.

Call It What You Want on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

One of the side characters is gay. Rob’s dad tried to die by suicide prior to the story’s beginning. He now lives in a wheelchair and is unable to speak or move.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between a boy and girl. References to sex. In one scene, a boy and girl take off their shirts while kissing.

Maegan’s parents discuss whether Sam should have an abortion so she can continue playing lacrosse and keep her scholarship. It’s clear that they feel very torn about it, and admit that they don’t want her to get an abortion. But they also worry about her future with a baby.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
A couple scenes show teenage boys fighting. References to some abusive behavior, including locking a kid outside overnight during the winter in freezing weather and choking the kid.

As mentioned in the review, Rob’s dad attempted suicide prior the opening of CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT. Rob found him afterward, and there are some brief descriptions of things like blood on the walls, or carpet being removed.

Drug Content 
At a party, teens drink alcohol. Meagan and her sister
(who’s pregnant) drink. Maegan confronts her sister about how dangerous it is for the baby for her to drink alcohol.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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