Title: History Is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Press, Inc.
Imprint: Soho Teen
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
Poignant, emotional, honest, and raw. History Is All You Left Me is every bit as brilliant and as touching as Adam Silvera’s debut novel, More Happy Than Not. It had me staying late at night reading, had me reaching for some tissue, and had me believing in the power of hope. It’s a heartbreaking story that is brilliantly delivered as it delve into the complicated matters of the heart, the beauty of love and friendship, the deep sadness that comes with loss and grief, and the process of moving on.
Adam Silvera is one of the new voices in YA and has quickly become an author that you can count on for a good story. He knows how to pack a punch in his books and I’m just totally floored by them. He makes fiction seem so real that it draws real emotions from the reader without being manipulative. I’m not even a big fan of sad stories but there’s rare magic in Silvera’s writing style that I can’t seem to get enough of and it keeps me glued to the story. That and his unique realistic tales made his books stand out in YA contemporary, which is not an easy thing to do.
I feel like a rock being skipped through the ocean—pain, relief, pain again, relief again, eventually destined to sink.
History Is All You Left Me is exactly what Silvera says it is—a sad book. It’s painful in all the right places. It’s about four teenage boys—Griffin, Theo, Wade, and Jackson—who share the same pain after love got their lives intertwined. The story is in Griffin’s point of view and was told in alternating times. He switches from “History”—where he looks back at how his friendship with Theo started and how it bloomed into something more—and “Today”—where Theo is dead and everyone is trying to survive the loss.
People are complicated puzzles, always trying to piece together a complete picture, but sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we’re left unfinished. Sometimes that’s for the best. Some pieces can’t be forced into a puzzle, or at least they shouldn’t be, because they won’t make sense.
This book is heart wrenching right from the start as the characters were grieving for the loss of a friend, a lover, a family. But it moves towards hope, which is my favorite part. Some would say that the characters in this book mourned for only a short time and that they quickly moved on. Maybe they did but that doesn’t mean they love Theo less. I think there’s no standard as to how long a person should grieve. People move on when they’re ready. In the end I’m just happy to see these characters as they gradually find their way back to happiness after losing a part of their lives.
History is nothing. It can be recycled or thrown away completely. It isn’t this sacred treasure chest I mistook it to be. We were something, but history isn’t enough to keep something alive forever.
I’m quite happy with the romance in this book. I like how Silvera presented it. Starting with Theo’s and Griffin’s enviable relationship, to their heartbreak as they broke up, and to the part where one of them moved on without the other. Silvera didn’t just show the beautiful things that love does to people, he also shows the complexities and the sourer emotions that comes with it like jealousy, disappointment, betrayal. The web of romantic relationships between our main characters played a major role in the story but this book is more than just about romance. It dealt with other issues like Griffin’s OCD. I personally don’t know anyone with OCD but I feel like it was portrayed realistically in this book.
One of my favorite things about this book is its fully formed characters. Not only did Silvera nailed this book with the feels, he also wows readers with his extremely realistic characterization. Griffin is an awesome main character. He’s smart, he’s funny, but he is also incredibly flawed. He makes poor choices and does really stupid things. I wanted to yell at him at some point for doing something so foolish without even thinking about the possible bad results of his actions. But I guess that’s what made him real. Even Theo has his own flaws and even after he died he wasn’t pictured as a perfect guy.
Another lovely thing about this book is that it’s filled with sincere friendship and supportive parents. I wouldn’t ask for a different dynamic. Despite the gloomy theme, there is humor here to balance with the sadness.
I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a refreshing read with diverse characters. It has romance but more than that it shows how much responsibility a serious relationship requires. It also dealt with issues of mental illness, of pain, and grief. This book is set to rip hearts. If you’re a crier, you better get your tear ducts ready for this.
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