Thursday, February 16, 2017

[Book Review] History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera


"I'll never understand how time can make a moment feel as close as yesterday and as far as years."
History Is All You Left Me follows our main character Griffin in two different times in his life, "History" which is his past where we follow his relationship with his ex boyfriend Theo. How they came out to each other, how they started dated, and why they ended. Then we have "Today" where we follow Griffin after Theo dies in a drowning accident and he's dealing with Jackson, Theo's boyfriend, being in town for the funeral. This story's themes include grief, coming out, self discovery, forgiveness, and love.

"I feel like a rock being skipped through the ocean - pain, relief, pain again, relief again, eventually destined to sink."  

As you alternate between the two time stamps in Griffin's life you get to know what happened between Griffin and Theo, but also the way grief affects different people. My opinions on each of the characters changed as I kept reading the story. I was so ready for there to be a villain because it's so easy for there to be someone to hate and blame when you're going through grief. But instead of there being a villain, all the histories we learn about (Griffin's, Jackson's, and even Wade's) we start to get a clearer vision of the truth of who each of the characters really are and I found that really interesting. The feelings I felt for each character at the beginning of the book were different by the end.

 In the "History" chapters I loved the scenes of Theo and Griffin together. Their relationship is so cute and in the moments where I was wrapped up in how sweet it all was, I'd come up for air and feel like I had been punched in the gut when I realized that Theo was dead. I loved their moments together, from their first awkward kiss, to them coming out to their parents and getting such a positive reaction, and even the cringe-y scene of them buying condoms and Griffin's dad pops up out of nowhere, realizes what's happening, and buys the condoms for them. I was both completely entertained and embarrassed for them. Seeing these moments helped understand and be in Theo's mind more especially during the "Today" chapters where he is grieving and making not so great life choices. I found myself hating every moment of Theo and Jackson were together because I really wanted Griffin to somehow be back with Theo even if I knew it wasn't going to happen. When a book makes me feel like I am in the shoes of the current point of view than I know the writing is well done.

"I look up, and Jackson's eyes find mine. For a second, it almost feels like we're about to race into the hole to join you. Being buried alive has got to be better than whatever comes next."

One of the things I loved about the "Today" chapters was that after Griffin and Jackson allowed themselves to move past the awkwardness of them being in each others presence after Theo's death, they let themselves get really vulnerable with each other. They both were going through such similar grieving moments that they were there for each other without being too competitive of each other and who was allowed to grieve more. In the beginning of the story because of Theo's negative feelings towards Jackson I couldn't help but feel them too, and as we get to know Jackson more in the "Today" chapters I really started liking Jackson as a character.

I love the way Silvera wrote Griffin's OCD. Because History Is All You Left Me is mostly about Griffin dealing with his loss of Theo, I was ready for his OCD to not be such a big part of the story but there are so many moments in the book where Griffin's OCD plays such a important part in his relationship with Theo and the beginnings of his friendship with Jackson. I liked that Jackson was very accommodating towards Griffin's OCD and he adapted so easily even if they had just met.

 "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." 

One of the many reasons I really appreciated this book is because of how the reader gets to know each character. The story is so masterfully done. I love how we are given the story in these pieces and we think we know where the story will go. However, by the end of the book not only was I so surprised by everything that had happened I felt like everything made sense. The surprises in this book weren't just there to shock you but they had meaning and it made you understand the characters so much more. It's these pieces that come together that made me feel differently for each character by the end of the story.

I also love the fact that although the characters are still grieving by the end of the book, they are getting better and healthily moving forward. I like that Griffin and Wade are friends again, and I am hoping that Griffin's friendship with Jackson improves with time. After all the information each character now knows about each other but also about Theo I think it makes it easier for them to move on which is really nice to see. Especially since some of that information could keep them frozen in grief, anger, or sadness. Which is why I am happy to hear about Griffin going to therapy.

"There's nothing wrong with someone saving my life, I've realized, especially when I can't trust myself to get the job done right. People need people. That's that."

This is my second book of Adam Silvera's and I have come to the conclusion that I really love that his characters are always written complexly. His writing style is great, it's very natural and it sounds like real teenage dialogue. It's easy to lose yourself in this story because of how real everything seems. Silvera has definitely become an author that I will be reading as long as he keeps publishing books. 

Thanks for reading! 

Have you read History Is All You Left Me or maybe his other book More Happy Than Not? I'd love to discuss the story and writing!