OCD-afflicted Griffin has just lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident. In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he forges a friendship with Theo’s last boyfriend, Jackson. When Jackson begins to exhibit signs of guilt, Griffin suspects he’s hiding something, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Theo’s death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth both in terms of what he’s willing to hide and what true love means.
Title: History Is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Published: Jan. 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQAP+
I received an advanced copy of this book from a friend who received it from the publisher
Trigger Warning: This book discusses topics like death, suicide, and mental illness.
Adam Silvera had already solidified his place as one of my favorite authors with his debut More Happy Than Not. That book is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching, I still tear up when I think about certain scenes. And that ending? Forget about it, breaks my freaking heart
So when my friend Shauna (over at b00kstorebabe) offered to send me the advanced copy she’d received I made some more-than-slightly-embarrassing noises. Then came my impatient waiting, worrying that the United States Postal Service would fail me and lose the package somehow. But no! The book was delivered to me safe and sound and I immediately began reading it.
History Is All You Left Me is a tough nut to talk about, mostly because it deals with so many different themes all so well. We have Griffin, who is not only grieving for the boy he loved, but also trying to cope with his worsening OCD. You’ve got Jackson, who also loved Theo, and is dealing with the fallout of Theo’s death, as well as connecting with one of the few people who loved Theo as much as he did. You’ve got Wade, who was once Theo’s best friend and the third member of their squad who’s now been left to grieve alone, abandoned by his last friend.
We also get to see not only the beginnings of Theo and Griffin’s relationship, but also the fallout, since this book is told in alternating perspectives. We have ‘History’ in which Griffin tells his and Theo’s story, from beginning to tragic end. And then we have ‘Today’ in which we see Griffin dealing with Theo’s death and mourning the one person he thought was truly meant for him. It’s sort of an odd way of telling the story that pays off immensely; seeing Griffin and Theo be happy and knowing that it won’t last, or remembering the happiest moments of the chapter before, and then heading right into a chapter where I know Theo isn’t in Griffin’s life anymore.
Honestly, it was such a struggle to get through this book. Just because from the very beginning we know so much. We know that Griffin is mourning, we know that Theo died in a tragic accident, we know that Griffin and Theo were broken up and that Theo was across the country with another boy at the time of his death. I could barely ready about 10 pages at a time before I was wiping away tears.
And then towards the ending! When so much is revealed about Theo and Wade and Griffin and everything that happened after Theo left for college. It’s so bittersweet and so satisfying that I had to read the final chapters a second time.
What makes it even more tragic is that Silvera really knows how to develop their relationship. He sells me that these two were friends for years before they started dating, he sells me their relationship; that it’s the most important thing to both of them. He sells the complete love between these two, the way that Griffin becomes obsessed with the relationship after Theo’s death. It’s such a goddamned tragedy and yet you can’t stop reading.
I was also really surprised to see some twists and turns. Perhaps Theo wasn’t the greatest boyfriend, and maybe Griffin elevated him to this heroic and incredibly unhealthy status in his mind. I’m not going to go into too much detail, since it’s still 6 months till this book comes out. But if you haven’t already added this to your TBR, do it immediately, and read Silvera’s first novel More Happy Than Not. You’ll probably regret it since it will make you feel things and probably cry, but it’s so worth the heartbreak.