Reader Review: History Is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera
History Is All You Left Me: ★★★★
“People need people. That’s that.”
When I spotted a single copy this book tucked away on a low shelf in one of my local bookshops, I knew that I had to grab it when I had the chance. Not only have I heard great things about this particular work of Adam Silvera’s, but I have also been a fan of his writing since I picked up ‘They Both Die At The End’. So, I dived into this book with admittedly high expectations.
And, honestly? I wasn’t let down. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t the perfect book (sorry, Adam, but that’s so far been an impossible feat to accomplish), but it’s so good in so many different ways that, if it let me down in any section, there were other elements to the book that made up for it in spades. Though, saying that, there’s not much that let me down in the first place.
The story is based on 17-year-old Griffin who is grieving the loss of his best friend and ex-boyfriend, Theo, who he always envisioned ending up with at the end of it all. Through the narrative of Griffin talking to Theo after his death and flashbacks to various points throughout their earlier friendship/relationship, we get to know the characters and follow how Griffin tries to deal with his best friend’s death. In an attempt to hold onto Theo, Griffin, overtime, gets attached to Theo’s new boyfriend, Jackson, and that ultimately leads to some complicated situations as details are revealed that Griffin didn’t necessarily know were important.
It’s a story about how life has a funny way of working things out and, even in the darkest situations, there’s still light that can be picked out and there’s still some good amongst the bad.
I actually started making notes on how I felt about this book whilst I read through it (it only took me a day to finish), and one of the first things that I jotted down is; ‘Griffin is relatable’. I think that’s vastly important to note, because, with any good book that’s trying to make you feel something and experience a situation which you may not be able to directly relate to, you need to get a good feel of the characters, who they are, and what their entire ‘plan’ is – whether that ‘plan’ be in reference to their life path or what they’re going to have for breakfast. If they don’t have a plan; why not? What conflicts are they dealing with? Explore the characters, divulge them, make them relatable or don’t, but do it for a reason and make the reader feel involved.
This is something that Adam Silvera very much effectively does in the way that he has not only paced the book, but this is also mirrored in the character insight that he provides through the layout of the book and how it’s been written. The characters are provided with little details that others would overlook or feel aren’t as important as the major plot points, though that’s not the case. The smallest snippets of information about their personalities make these characters more real – you feel like you know them, and you feel like you’re progressing with them, which makes the story all the more enthralling.
Something that stood out to me about the book as well is that the narrative doesn’t feel forced – it doesn’t feel like it’s happening at a weirdly fast pace, and it deals with realistic issues in a realistic manner. You get to feel how the characters feel in relation to certain situations even if you don’t have experience of those types of scenarios or feelings in your own life – and that’s how you know when a book has been written well.
The message of the book is definitely important – it showcases that, even though life is shit sometimes and it’s weird as fuck, things do work out, even if everything seems like it’s paused in greyscale. The situation and the narrative of the book is a tough one – but it makes the reader feel as if they’re experiencing it with the characters rather just reading it. It offers a different type of life-perspective and, due to the way that the book has been set out by switching between present-day thoughts and past memories, it really provides the reader with further insight on what message is actually trying to be portrayed. Sometimes you can want for one outcome, but life has a different route planned for you, and you can’t always ride against the wave.
Referring back to the characters, I loved watching them unfold as the story progressed towards the end. The character development and the relationship dynamics are written well and are paced realistically – it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. There are some positive character developments and some negative downfalls, but the reader is able to follow it all and justify what the characters are doing due to the previously-mentioned insight that’s well provided.
Finally, I liked the way that the story came to a conclusion that the reader wouldn’t necessarily expect. It works to reinforce the idea that life has a funny way of working itself out and you can’t always predict the ending of a situation. When I finished the book, I felt like I had experienced a good story and had taken away a good message from it, with the help of some new, well-rounded, lovable characters.
The only reason that I’m not giving the book 5 stars is like I said, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary or revolutionary, but it is a great book referring to a very tense situation in a very understanding way.
Thanks for taking the time to read this short review. Now we just have to wait until Adam’s book co-written with Becky Albertalli drops – I’ve sure as hell got even higher expectations for that one.
I’ll write you later.
If you’re a fan of emotional rollercoasters and want to experience a range of different feelings regarding a situation that you may not relate to in any sense of the word, then give this book a read.
If you’re a fan of challenging life experiences, want to view a different perspective, or simply want to be reminded that life does work out in one way or another, then Adam’s got your back here.