• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Now You Say Yes by Bill Harley

Now You Say Yes is beautiful. Harley's middle-grade story about love, duty, self-discovery, disappointment, and pushing through the discomfort of trusting others is sometimes heartbreaking and consistently lovely. I adored it.

In Bill Harley's newest work, the middle-grade novel Now You Say Yes, we follow newly orphaned fifteen-year-old Mari and her nine-year-old stepbrother, Conor, who is on the spectrum, as they strike out on a cross-country journey in a desperate attempt to avoid foster care.

Mari is bent on staying with her brother and preserving the only family they each have left. But she's not legally an adult, and she doesn't have many options of who she can rely on to keep them safe.

Harley perfectly captures small, illuminating moments during the siblings' road trip while exploring trust, betrayal, the unexpected bubbling up of grief, and the bone-deep tiredness of a young woman trying to take on more than she should have to. The upcoming eclipse is set up as a wonderful centering point for the siblings' trip, Conor's single-minded obsession, and Mari's search for solutions.

Harley takes us through Mari's realistic-feeling moments of frustration with Conor as well as her exasperation with her position as a minor without autonomy or power. She's reliant on possessing certain papers (which she doesn't have) and is expected to participate in rigid systems in specific ways (which she can't do while also keeping Conor with her).

Mari is a wonderful character. She doesn't transform too easily, but she does regain her inner strength in an understated way, she displays her own version of bravery, and she manages to find some peace in not having all of the answers.

Now You Say Yes is beautiful. Harley's story about love, duty, self-discovery, disappointment, and pushing through the discomfort of trusting others is sometimes heartbreaking and consistently lovely. I adored it.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Harley is also the author of the wonderful seven-book, middle-grade, humor-filled Charlie Bumper series (which my son read and absolutely adored) as well as the middle-grade books Night of the Spadefoot Toads and The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher.