History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Also pictured in the photo is More Happy Than Not, also by Adam Silvera. To see my review on MHTN, click here!
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. (Source: Goodreads)
Review: (Some Spoilers)
Adam Silvera is one of the best YA contemporary writers at the moment. He writes innovative stories with some of the best character development i’ve had the pleasure of reading. In History Is All You Left Me, his characters Griffin, Theo, Wade and Jackson are all perfectly complex and flawed, and are some of the most real feeling characters of any novel I’ve read recently.
This book is a quick read at only 294 pages and I zoomed through it in a day and a half (which is quite impressive for me as I’m a pretty slow reader). I wanted to keep reading and couldn’t make myself stop. At one point I was meant to be doing something, and kept telling myself “I’ll stop at this page” but that page kept changing and suddenly I had finished the book! (oops haha)
One of the things Silvera does amazingly in this book is how he talks about Griffins compulsions. It discusses his obsessive compulsions as a thing that he cannot control, and something that is anxiety inducing, and I think it was great to see how the other characters reacted to, and were supportive of Griffins compulsions. As someone who does not have OCD like Griffin, I am not the person who can say to much as to how well or accurate it is written, so I would love to hear more from other YA readers who can relate to Griffin’s compulsions.
As I mentioned, flawed, but intelligent, characters in contemporary are something I love to read. There is nothing more frustrating than reading a character in a book who seems too perfect. All of the characters in this novel are perfect examples of this. The characters are all flawed and complex in their own ways, and struggle with their own regrets that weigh them down. They struggle with the acceptance of Theo’s death, and do as many people do: blame themselves. Silvera explores this idea of self blame in the book and how they come to deal with it and accept that no-one can be blamed in the terrible accident that caused Theo’s death. Through the exploration of both healthy and not so healthy relationships, Silvera is able to explore all the aspects of what growing up and being in love can entail. I loved seeing all these characters grow and learn, and I’m really going miss reading about them.
“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.”
In History Is All You Left Me, there is the subplot of the acceptance of sexuality, and it appears multiple times throughout the novel. Theo and Griffin come out together to their accepting parents when they start dating each other, Wade comes out to Griffin near the end of the novel, and Griffin, upon learning that Theo is actually bisexual, learns that it makes no difference in their relationship. Griffin learning about Theo being bisexual was a very small portion of the book, but I think it really worked well. It not only showed Griffin learning, but Silvera was able to show a lot of the biphobia that people can show, as Griffin first feels threatened by Theo’s bisexuality, until Theo reminds him that being bisexual is in no way going to affect their relationship, and that it does not mean there is a higher chance of him cheating. The positive representation of mental illness and sexualities is a GREAT aspect of this novel, and the positive portrayal of safe and consensual sex was just the cherry on top.
Finally, one of the biggest aspects of this novel is dealing with grief. It shows all of the messy aspects of grief and the difficulty of dealing with the loss of someone who is very close to another. It is, at the surface, just people who are trying to live after an event that will affect their lives, whether that be a friend, a boyfriend, or an ex boyfriend, they are all learning to live and deal with grief in their own ways. The novel shows the healthy forms of grief, and the way that grief can affect a person in a damaging way. I really loved how it touched on all aspects and explored not just Griffins. I especially loved the time period jumps going back and forth between history and today and then meeting in the middle at the end. It was the perfect way to tell the story, and I wish I there were some more books out there that were written in a similar way!
Phew, I had a lot I wanted to touch on for this review. This one is probably a jumbled mess, but I found it hard organizing everything I wanted to discuss about this book I hope it isn’t too disorganized! I really do recommend this book to everyone 🙂
“I’m sorry, but please don’t be mad at me for reliving all of it. History is all you left me.”