Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Book Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Published Date: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author.

I legitimately don't know how Jessica Verdi does it. She creates compelling stories with interesting characters. Tosses in a lot of feelsy moments and voila, she's got a story that I will fall in love with. What You Left Behind was definitely different than her previous books, but it followed her formula to a T.

Interesting plot. Check
Captivating characters. Check
Tons of feels. Check

It took me a bit of time to warm up to Ryden to be totally honest. He seemed to be struggling with everything and trying to do it all. He didn't want his life to change at all and he relied heavily on his mom to care for Hope, his baby. I know it's probably tough to assume so much responsibility so quickly, but his actions at the beginning of the book were a bit maddening. 

He was baffled that his daughter seemed to hate him, but babies at her age form attachments to the people who care for them the most. In this case, that was Ryden's mom. Ryden is still in school, playing soccer and working. It doesn't feel like his schedule was really changed at all and to be honest, he seemed selfish at times. It was probably his age, but it was definitely something that I noticed. 

Finally things started to change, Ryden had to make some decisions about Hope and his mom couldn't make the decisions because she was not the baby's next of kin.

Most of the reviews will probably focus on Ryden's growing romance with Joni, and I will talk about her later, but right now I want to talk about Ryden's relationship with his mother. We don't usually get to see mother/son relationships in YA. In fact, I think this book may be the first one I've read with such a positive mother/son relationship. In fact, I think it was my favorite part of this book. She was just so supportive and kind to her son and to her granddaughter.

I really liked Joni. She was quirky, fun and she had a healthy self respect for herself. She was good for Ryden. I was excited for them to get together, and I rooted for them. They made sense as a couple. I wish we had seen more of Joni because I feel like we didn't get to know as much about her as I would have liked.

The journals told a story. A story that we learned about right alongside Ryden. It showed that this whole situation was not as black and white as we all initially thought. I am a very black & white thinker, so this made me do a lot of thinking. I  didn't love Meg, but her journals helped me understand certain things that she did.

Jessica Verdi had already earned herself on my auto-read & auto-buy author lists, and this one was certainly no exception. I really enjoyed this book and will be giving it 4.5 stars. I do recommend this book because not only was it unique, but it also had some diverse and interesting characters.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said, Alexia! I'm having second thoughts about this book at first but because of your thorough review, I guess I'm giving this book a try now. :) Thanks for sharing! <3

    A Girl Between the Pages


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