Review: You Say It First by Katie Cotugno 💌 Complicated long-distance relationships

Review_ You Say It First

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CW’s: Alcoholism, Mention of past suicide

You Say It First is a propulsive, layered novel about how sometimes the person who has the least in common with us can be the one who changes us most.

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?



“So, like, nobody can pull the rug out from under you if you decide there’s no rug, to begin with?”

Meg & Colby are such great, flawed, and nuanced characters ➽ We get both their POV’s, though I preferred Meg’s as I related to her more. Meg is an outspoken activist who’s always involved in lots of things like her school’s projects or a phonebank trying to gain people to sign up for voting. She’s passionate about advocating for others and loves to discuss topics close to her heart. But Meg is also afraid of conflict with her friends, as her parent’s messy marriage full of screaming matches has made her dread making a public spectacle out of a fight. She’s so bold in her opinions but still also often too agreeable in her close relationships because of that fear to cause an argument, even when she really doesn’t agree with something her friends say. I loved this nuance of showing a person who loves speaking up, yet feels afraid to do so with her friends, which is honestly really hard. I related to that as well. Meg’s always pretending to be fine and doesn’t accept help as she thinks she has to have everything figured out and dealt with in private. I found her growth to figure out what she wanted and finally speaking up to her friends well-done. Meg begins to consider other perspectives and questions some of her opinions, which allows her to grow as a person.  Colby meanwhile is pretty different from her. His family doesn’t have a lot of money and after a devastating loss, he’s disillusioned with life in general. Colby is afraid to hope for a better life for himself because failure would mean getting hurt again and it’s easier to be in denial about the opportunities he could have. I didn’t really agree with Colby in some things, but I liked that the book showed here he came from and why he was so disillusioned with politics and activism. Throughout the book, he slowly finds hope again and sees that he needs to push himself out of his thinking.

I loved their long-distance friendship (with some romantic feelings later). ➽ Meg and Colby come across each other by chance – and not in a pleasant situation – but somehow they cannot let the other go and start talking on the phone and texting. I loved how we saw them becoming friends and later also dealing with their romantic feelings. It was so nice to see how great a long-distance relationship could be, bringing together two people who never would have met otherwise. However, the book also nailed the awkwardness of the first meeting and reconciling the person you’ve grown to know with the person in their natural environment. Meg and Colby’s relationship was so realistic and portrayed with all its ups and downs. Both of them challenge each other to think differently and address their problems. It was nice to see them help the other to grow and come to important personal realizations. Meg and Colby have a lot of discussions especially as they are so different: Meg is passionate about politics while Colby is pretty apolitical and disillusioned with everything she is fighting for. They also come from different backgrounds, so you can see how they have different viewpoints. This different perspective is what helps them grow, as both Colby and Meg begin to understand how valuable it is to talk to someone different from you who can help you point out things you and your friends wouldn’t notice. There are also fights and arguments but the whole relationship felt so real and ended on a hopeful note. [highlight to see spoilers] Still, The ending broke me though, I wanted a happier resolution 😥It was realistic and showed both were willing to try and give this another shot, but it wasn’t the reconciliation I was hoping for after the last scene together was the big fight. I did like that the ending focused on resolving Meg and Colby’s personal issues though and didn’t only focus on the romance. They both have grown a lot as people and decide to meet in the diner between their hometowns they joked about in the beginning, so we are coming full circle. The ending is great in that way, I just wish we had seen an epilogue about what happened after.

I also liked all the minor characters ➽ I wanted to see more of them, but I liked that the author managed to flesh out Meg and Colby’s individual lives that are also so important to them. Meg’s struggling with her best friends Emily and Mason (also her ex-boyfriend) as they all seem to be the same with no other perspectives that give any room to grow as a person. Meg questions if she even wants the same things as everyone in her friendship group anymore, or if she’s slowly grown apart with the people who had her back during her parent’s difficult divorce. The same goes for her mother, who she has such fond memories of but after the divorce, she’s changed into a different person. I did like that Meg also had her coworkers at the phonebank who are only colleagues at the start of the book but also slowly become her friends, who offer her a different perspective on life! The same goes for Colby. He’s got his circle of friends (including Joanna, a friend’s sister who is such a cool, easygoing person) but also feels ambivalent towards them. He’s grown up with them under similar circumstances so they get him, but he doesn’t really agree with everything they do and say. Another interesting person is Colby’s brother Matt who has an estranged relationship with him, as they have different experiences with their deceased dad and his legacy. So all in all, the book did a great job discussing various important relationships in the main characters’ lives.


So many important themes were discussed ➽ Through Colby we explore the grieving of a parent who took his own life and all the unanswered questions that accompany this loss. Colby feels trapped in his home and hopes to get out as everything reminds him of his dad. He’s disillusioned with life and the book also discussed trying to sabotage yourself from achieving good things for the fear of rejection and betrayal. Colby’s not ready to fulfill his dreams as losing them would be just another devastating loss. Through Meg, we explore how it’s like to deal with being stuck in the middle of a divorce and having to play both sides. It’s hard for her to always try to make everything perfect, especially when her mom begins to use alcohol frequently and her father is busy with his new family. The sense of feeling trapped in life applies to both of them. Meg is questioning her own future and if she even wants to go to college like her friend Emily always wanted. I loved how the book showed that there were alternatives to attending college and that it was totally okay to go a different route.

I flew through the book, it was so engaging to read ➽ I read it within a couple of days and even put aside my other current reads because this book kept calling to me. From the very beginning, I was hooked on Meg and Colby’s story because I’ve not read that many long-distance friendship/romance stories and this one was very well-written. I loved following the characters in their individual lives and also seeing how they connected over their phone calls. I was so invested in their personal growth that I couldn’t stop reading until the very last page 📚

IN CONCLUSION.You Say It First was a fantastic contemporary book about a lot of important topics including long-distance relationships, grieving, dealing with divorce and feeling of uncertainty and so much more! All of the characters are incredibly well-written, flawed, messy, and all too human, which really appealed to me. If you’re looking for a realistic long-distance relationship with all its ups and downs and lots of personal growth, this is the perfect book 🥰

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Have you read You Say It First? What’s your favorite book featuring a long-distance friendship/relationship? 💌



12 thoughts on “Review: You Say It First by Katie Cotugno 💌 Complicated long-distance relationships

  1. I really liked a couple other books by Katie Cotugno so I’m glad to see a positive review of this one! I now feel very encouraged to add it to my tbr next month for a readathon 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your review so much, Caro and I’m so happy you ended up enjoying this book as much as I did. I loved these two characters so, so, so much and their relationship was wonderful to follow ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my god what the hellllll!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS LITERALLY MY LIFE.
    I am Meg, I consider myself pretty bold and out-spoken and yet I find myself doing things just toplease my friends and avoiding conflict. And Colby? Oh god he sounds like this guy who is my friend-turned-morethanfriend-turned again to just friends weird complicated relationship person hahahaha.
    And its all cuz of your review! You have explained with such preciseness without giving anything away, love it! and thankyou!

    Liked by 1 person

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