How to Say I Love You Out Loud

by Karole Cozzo

At A Glance
Interest Level

Reading Level
Number of Pages

Jordyn has a secret to keep. When she moves to an elite new school, Jordyn knows that her secret cannot get out. When charming Alex Colby kisses her, Jordyn demands that they remain “just friends.”  When her best friend tries to get Jordyn to open up, Jordyn pushes her away.

Suddenly, Jordyn’s life takes a turn for the worse when her autistic brother is forced to attend the same school as Jordyn. Can Jordyn keep everyone from knowing that the crazy new kid is her brother? And if her friends find out the truth about her brother, will they alienate her?

Jordyn must decide if she should show others her true self and risk revealing the truth about her complicated family life. If she decides to let others in, will she lose Alex and her best friend?

Jordyn’s fear of rejection is something that every teen can understand. Jordyn struggles with the conflicting emotions of loving her brother but being embarrassed by his behavior. Even though Jordyn’s family life is messy, how to say I love you out loud portrays a loving, two-parent home that sticks together and does the best they can; this is rare in teen literature today.

Another positive aspect of the book is that although it deals with teen issues, there is nothing that is too shocking. Even though the teens in the book cuss often, it is nothing that a typical teen isn’t exposed to in a high school hallway. How to say I love you out loud is an enjoyable romance that shows the importance of showing people your true self and realizing that no one’s life is perfect.

Sexual Content

  • There are several references to people hooking up. The term is used, but not explained.
  • Alex’s girlfriend gives him a “quick, flirty kiss.”
  • In the school hallway, “Leighton’s back is against the wall and Alex has one arm above her head, keeping her in place, his body pressed against hers . . . their mouths mashed together.”
  • During a swim party, Jordyn and Alex go into a supply closet looking for bug repellent and end up kissing. The kissing scene lasts for about a page. “. . . We had no trouble finding each other. His hands fell to my hips like they belonged there. I felt myself being pressed against the rickety wooden shelves, the firm, warm heat of his bare chest against my damp skin.” After the kiss, Alex apologizes, “Didn’t mean to be a dick.”
  • Jordyn thinks about Alex. “I want to hold his hand. I want to touch his face. I want to memorize his expressions when he’s sleeping, all over again. I want to feel the pressure of his lips against mine. I just want him.”
  • Jordyn and Alex hide in a coat closet and kiss. “Alex raises his head, finding the other side of my neck with his lips. He plants the smallest of kisses there and I hear my breath vibrating in the air between us . . . my hands running over the planes of his strong back as I claim his body with no fear of the consequences. We fumble in our attempts to get close enough, determined to close the distance that never should have existed in the first place.”



  • Jordyn’s autistic brother gets upset and takes off running, taking off his clothes as he runs. It takes three staff members to control him.

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • When Jordyn goes to a staff party, her friend asks, “Did Petersen show up really drunk again? Hit on any of the lifeguards who aren’t even legal yet.”
  • Jordyn and some kids from school go to a party where they drink alcohol and some of the kids smoke pot. Jordyn drinks, “hot chocolate that has been spiked with a liberal dose of peppermint schnapps.”


  • Profanity is scattered throughout the story on a regular basis. The profanity includes crap, pissed, hell, and bullshit.
  • Most of it appears in the teens’ conversations. For example, “. . . it would have been really nice to actually feel like I have my shit together before walking in there.”
  • Jordyn thinks that she, “sure as hell is not trying to steal anyone’s spotlight.” Later she describes her day as “long-assed.”
  • Jordyn’s in Advanced Placement U.S. History and, “the essay tests are rumored to be a bitch.”
  • A teen boy describes Jordyn’s brother’s behavior and said, “Dude, it was fucking nuts.”
  • When Jordyn and her mom get into an argument, Jordyn thinks, “I can feel the acid in the pit of my stomach . . . when I’m being a bitch.”
  • Alex asks Jordyn, “Jesus Christ, Jordyn, can we please have an honest conversation for once? My God, don’t act like you don’t know.”
  • A girl calls Jordyn a “slut.”


  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None


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