ARC Review: You Say it First by Katie Cotugno

Title: You Say It First
Author: Katie Cotugno
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★★★

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Balzer + Bray for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!


Meg has her entire life set up perfectly: her boyfriend Mason is sweet and supportive, she and her best friend Emily plan to head to Cornell together in the fall, and she even finds time to clock shifts phonebanking at a voter registration call center in her Philadelphia suburb. But everything changes when one of those calls connects her to a stranger from small-town Ohio, who gets under her skin from the moment he picks up the phone.

Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job—unsure what his future holds, or if he even cares. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.

But things don’t end there.…

That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?


In the age of Instagram, Bumble and other internet dating sites, You Say it First really captured what relationships used to be like. Talking for hours on the phone at night about  nothing and everything until one of you fell asleep. With texting now I feel like phone conversations are a rare type of interactions these days. This was a cute romance that reminds us that it’s okay to have an opinion that differs from your friends or family and that not all arguing is bad.

➽ Meg – Quiet and reserved she never says what she’s thinking or how she feels. Her boyfriend of a year dumps her and she barely reacts. The one thing she has to take her mind off the breakup and the future beyond high school she is now suddenly unsure is her job at WeConnect. It’s there that she meets Colby, calling to update his Dads voter registration. They immediately argue and it’s the most alive she’s felt since her parents divorce.

➽ Colby – It’s almost the one year anniversary of his fathers death and he’s just coasting through life. He does dumb crap with his friends in their hometown that no one ever leaves and works full time at Home Depot. Every day feels the same until Meg calls wanting to help his dead dad register to vote. He’s a total jerk and hangs up on her but she calls back leaving him a voicemail this starting their over the phone friendship and maybe more?

Meg is a huge feminist and around Colby she is never afraid to be passionate about what she loves or say how she feels. She is so feisty but sometimes she only had half the facts about stuff she was arguing about. While she has a ton of character growth because of her interactions with Colby I would have liked to have seen more from her. She still had some things to deal with in certain parts of her life like with her mom and dad. I felt like those relationships had some stuff just swept under the rug. Her friendship with Emily was sweet though and you could tell they really cared about each other, which is why it was so hard for Meg to rock the boat about their college plans. 

Colby was just coasting along until Meg. He had to much potential for more than his hometown had to offer him but was afraid to reach out and try for more. He seemed sweet though and I can’t imagine losing a parent in such a tragic way. His life was not the worst in any way but he could have changed it at any point, especially with his knowledge and skill as a carpenter. His friends were complete misogynistic idiots though who I didn’t see has having his best interests in mind. He didn’t have an Emily, who while a bit misguided in her attempts was a true friend, that he could talk to things about.

The relationship of Meg and Colby was sweet but in the end just a series of arguments. It felt like each interaction between the two ended badly because of how different their worlds were. Colby was embarrassed by his and Meg didn’t realize how privileged she was. If this were real life I don’t think this relationship would have worked. Yes they talked all the time and drew each other out of their respective shells, but they never talked about anything important. Colby never discussed his dad with Meg and she never  really brought up her issues at home. They were just sort of glossed over and after their fights the issues behind the fights were never brought up. It was a superficial relationship. 

You Say it First was a cute and quick read where I liked the main characters but their relationship never really clicked for me. I really liked Meg though and her passion for politics. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but after sitting on this review for a bit after neither character was really memorable, I didn’t enjoy the non-ending ending, and I wanted to know the directions each of their lives would take after everything. 

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