Monday, 10 August 2015

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Publishing Date: July 23, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 368 pages
YA Contemporary

The Premise: The story follows Ryden Brooks who finds himself caring for an infant daughter as a single father, starting his senior year and preparing to earn a soccer scholarship. Ryden blames himself because if he didn't get Meg pregnant, she wouldn't have had to stop her chemo treatments, and she would've been alive. He feels like he is failing at fatherhood, that is until he meets Joni. Joni makes him feel like his old self again and is fun and energetic. The only thing is, Joni doesn't know about Meg or Hope. When Ryden tries to get his life on track, his past comes back when he starts to find journals left behind for him. Will he be able to pull everything together for Hope and for himself when memories of Meg still anchor him?

My overall thoughts and review: I love a good YA contemporary read and when I heard about this premise, I was instantly intrigued. Usually YA stories that follow the TFiOS structure follows the process/narrative of the person that is sick. Verdi has chosen to take a different route and follow Ryden's POV which really fascinated me because it offers the reader a look into what happens to those that remain after a significant loss and more importantly, it is told from Ryden's POV which I find there is not a lot of male POV's in YA, so it was a nice change! Ryden was such a frustrating character to read from at times. I felt that I was drawn more to the Ryden in Meg's journals and memories as opposed to the current Ryden who drove me a little insane throughout the book. He was quite blase about things and it was hard to read from the perspective of a character you wanted to just smack at times. :P I'm glad that he does come full circle though and that he is able to grieve Meg in a proper way and put his life and priorities together. I was quite apprehensive about another love story being interwoven with the narrative, because I felt like in the beginning of the novel, the reader was only getting a picture of Ryden's relationship with Meg and to throw another blooming relationship into the mix made it quite confusing at times. I would've much preferred to see less of Joni (I really liked her, but it just didn't jive with me). I will say I really enjoyed reading the scenes with Alan and learning more about him and seeing how Ryden's relationship with him changed as well. Overall, it was a good YA contemporary read, told from a male perspective about the issues of relationships, death and loss, and the difficulties of senior year. I really liked Verdi's writing and I hope to read more of her work in the near future :)

My rating of the book:  (3.5/5 stars) 

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Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by Raincoast Books for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.  

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