Review: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me Adam Silvera

Title: History Is All You Left Me  
Author: Adam Silvera  
Series: Stand-alone 
Genre: Contemporary, Lgbt, YA  
Publication date: January 17, 2017 
Rating: ★★★★ 

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


Then there’s the kind of zombie I’ve become now: the one who has lost everything—his brain, his heart, his light, his direction. He wanders the world, bumping into this, tripping over that, but keeps going and going. That is life after death.

History Is All You Left Me and I didn’t hit it off right away. While the first page immediately captured my interest, the characters needed some time to grow on me. I’m still not sure they 100% did. There was after all the very unfortunate event of main character Griffin telling us his all time favourite book character was Cedric Diggory. I mean, that’s not a thing you can tell me and still expect to be friends. Especially not after the debacle that was HP and The Cursed Child. But alright, I’m a grown-up and grown-ups should be able to get over this. So that’s what I did.

The story starts as we follow Griffin into his best friend’s funeral. Although best friend doesn’t quite cut it. Theo McIntyre was his best friend and the ex-boyfriend he still had very strong feelings for. Theo drowned a couple of days before in the ocean near his college dorm in California. One day he was alive, the next day he wasn’t and Griffin was left behind on his own. Well, not entirely on his own. There is still Theo’s grieving family and their mutual friend Wade. But without Theo, everything seems to fall apart. He was the glue that held their little ‘squad’ together. Now there will never be new memories with him. All that’s left to figure out of the puzzle that once was Theo, is the life he led in California. Theo’s new boyfriend Jackson is the only one who can complete that picture. He is the missing piece, the blank spot Griffin can’t make sense off. And it scares him just how much he can relate to the guy that ruined his end game.

I'll never understand how time can make a moment feel as close as yesterday
and as far as years.

The book is divided into two stories, slowly working towards each other. The past and present are simultaneously told in alternating chapters. We find ourselves in Griffin’s head as he tells us the story of how he and Theo fell in love, and the part where he tries (and often fails) to deal with the aftermath of his death. I personally preferred the present chapters over the past ones, probably because they were more intense.

Thing is, I didn’t exactly like Theo. Not because I wasn’t supposed to like him. He just wasn’t my kind of person. It happens, and it honestly didn’t matter. I still felt for him. I still cared that he died. I didn’t need to be fond of Theo to feel the loss, or to understand the grief. The book revolves around Griffin, he is the one I needed to care about. And I really did in the end. There was a lot of raw emotion on the page. Griffin’s feelings were honest. Often ugly, but that’s what grief looks like, right? People usually don’t make the best decisions when they’re losing their minds. I felt like I could truly understand what he was going through.

I’d give in to the grief but make sure it wasn’t loud enough to draw attention from those who think words will make me feel better.

The writing is beautiful. Literally and figuratively speaking. It captures exact feelings and creates the right atmospheres. Adam Silvera spins a complex tale of friendship, love, grief and confusion. The good and the bad. He manages to explore everything so well that it all feels awfully personal. This is a sad book. Everyone is hurting and no one is to blame. Not Theo, not Griffin, not Wade and not even Jackson. That’s what makes it so painfully human. Someone died and there are a lot of unresolved feelings that can’t be dealt with now that the object of their focus is gone. There is something very tragic about people trying to act like they’re fine, when they are not. When they are not at all.

Deeply sad for sure, but balanced too. The book is not a cry fest or a shrine to drama. Not in the least. Through it all there is humour, there is warmth and most of all, there is hope. Hope for the future. Hope that even if time doesn’t heal all wounds, it mends them enough to keep going.

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.

On a side note, I also really appreciated that Theo and Griffin being gay was no big deal. There is so much positivity surrounding them and the focus was not at all on them coming out. Had Theo been a girl, it would have barely made a difference in the way the story was told. This is what equality looks like. Male protagonists falling in love with each other and it being the most normal thing in the world. 


...please don't be mad at me for reliving all of it. History is all you left me.




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2 comments:

  1. I put this book on my DNF shelf, sadly enough. I just couldn't get through it. :(

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    Replies
    1. Ah, too bad you didn't enjoy this! I needed some to get into it as well but luckily I ended up liking it. Have you read anything else by Adam Silvera before? I think I'm going to try "More happy than not" soon.

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