HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME
BY ADAM SILVERA
I am excited to be doing a tandem review with Jolene from JO'S BOOK BLOG. We are following the question format used by Shannon and Julia for double reviews, on REX ROBOT REVIEWS. Jolene also added some questions inspired by the weekly #BBTC Twitter chat hosted by Brittany from BRITTANY'S BOOK RAMBLES, so let's get started!
WE BUDDY READ THIS BOOK
1.What are your general thoughts?
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LA LA: The beginning of the story was wandering and sometimes downright bland to the point of being boring. I was happy when it picked up around 30%, but it slowed down again. At one point I was thinking it as going to be a three star, but the last 40-45% really packed a punch.
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As I said in my Goodreads review I really appreciate Adam's skill at writing sex scenes where the reader will only envision what they already know. This is important to me because YA is classified appropriate for 12-18 year olds and there is a large difference of maturity levels between those ages.
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I also loved that the story pointed out serious romantic/sexual relationships in high school are not always a positive thing. The couples in this book show how much responsibility a serious relationship is, and how this can cause a lot of stress which in turn affects school, family, and friendships in a negative way.
JOLENE: I thought this was a very good read. Even though it starts off a bit slow, the pay off at the end is worth the wait. This is definitely not a happy book. There are a few funny moments but for the most part it is about dealing with the loss of a friend, a lover, a son, and a bright future full of possibilities. I believe this is an important read for not only teens but people who are around teens. We all deal with grief in different ways and it is imperative we don’t judge how someone else deals with a devastating loss. Mr. Silvera does an excellent job weaving the story together. We learn about Griffin’s and Theo’s history little by little and are introduced to Theo’s boyfriend, Jackson, and his importance in Theo’s life along the way.
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LA LA: I thought the storyline was wonderful. It shows how people deal with tragedy differently. It also highlights the differences in relationship motivations; how one person's reason for being with someone can be totally different from their partner's. It also points to teens not being mature enough for serious sexual relationships. There was also a puzzle theme throughout the book, both figuratively and literally, which was interesting.
JOLENE: The storyline was great. I thought the pacing was good because even though we know Theo dies early on, we are not sure how or why. I think that is one of the reasons I kept turning pages at the beginning. Theo’s death and circumstances around it are revealed bit by bit through the entire book.
3. What did you think about the characters?
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LA LA: I liked all of them. I saw some Goodreads reviews where readers were saying they couldn't stand Griffin, the MC, and it was reflected in their rating, but the way he was handling life was what the story was about. I don't get these people who don't understand characters can't be perfect, especially in YA where growth/change arcs are so important. I found I had empathy for all of them, but I didn't get drawn in by any of them. I don't quite know why that is because I was deeply invested in the MC of Silvera's first book, More Happy Than Not. That story made me cry, this one did not.
JOLENE: I liked the main characters. I wasn’t sure of Wade at the beginning but his purpose is all fleshed out by the end of the book. Even though Griffin bugged me, I totally understand why he was written the way he was. Griffin definitely developed throughout the story which I believe is the point of this story and grieving for a loved one. Jackson’s and Griffin’s relationship was my favorite. Reading them share their memories of Theo to each other was very poignant.
4. Was the ending satisfying?
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LA LA: Yes. It was well developed, not rushed, and it gives closure.
JOLENE: Yes, I liked the ending.
5. Rating and recommendations?
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LA LA: I give it 3.5stars. The weak beginning really worries me because teens will drop a boring book like a hot potato, and with this book they would miss out on the thought provoking back half. It is of course diverse, being about gay couples, and this is a big plus for me when it comes to YA. Like I stated previously, I didn't find myself falling in love with any of the characters. I think I could have in Wade's case, but he was underdeveloped. His character was used primarily as a sounding board for Griffin and Theo, and for me, that was a shame. Some of the waffling around between Theo and Griffin in the beginning could have easily been taken out to make room for development of Wade's character.
JOLENE: I give this book 4 stars. This is a great book for teens who are dealing with grief and loss. My favorite aspect of the book was how Griffin and Jackson had to put their differences behind them and become friends. They were the only ones that knew how the other felt. Those moments in the book, for me, were very sweet and heartbreaking. I, too, wish the beginning wasn’t as slow but if readers are familiar with Mr. Silvera’s first book, hopefully, they realize there will be a great second half of the book.
JOLENE'S EXTRA QUESTIONS
(based on events in the story)
1. Most Embarrassing moment with parents growing up?
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LA LA: I was so high at my high school graduation that I fell asleep in my seat. Thank goodness I was sitting next to a friend and they let me nod off on their shoulder. I was so out of it when I walked up to the platform (it was outdoors) that I couldn't find the stairs, so the principal had to walk to the edge of the stage and bend down to give me my diploma. Yeah, I know, embarrassing for me, too. I felt the need to get high because of warring divorced parents.
JOLENE: When I was about 14, we were getting ready to go on vacation and as my parents and I got in the car my mom asked me if I had packed enough maxi pads. My dad and brother were in the car too and I rememeber being so mortified that they had heard my mom ask me that. It wouldn’t bother me now but at 14 I wanted to crawl under the back seat.
2. Interesting events/arguments at family holidays?
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LA LA: That would be when my mother finally saw my tattoo. I had stayed overnight for Christmas and at the breakfast table, when I reached for the jelly, my robe sleeve crept up and it was exposed. I had had it for over a year and had managed to keep it hidden. My stepfather banned me from the house and wouldn't let my little sister visit me anymore (she was three years old) becase he said I was a bad role model. That didn't last long though because they forgot I babysat for her free of charge. Ha ha. I also was not allowed to take my gifts home with me.
JOLENE: I had strict instructions never to get my ears double pierced so of course as soon as I turned 18, I went and got them double pierced. But that wasn’t nearly as bad as when my brother and his friends showed up one day with their ears pierced. I think everyone in town heard the reprecusssions of that.
3. Biggest fear?
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LA LA: Something bad happening to my son. He has been my life force since the day he was born and I don't know how I would continue on.
JOLENE: Definitely something happening to my kids. But another fear that many find weird is that I will get eaten by an animal. I can’t even watch wild life shows and watch an animal eat another animal.
Thanks for joining me for this review, Jolene!
Have you read HIAYLM, yet? Is it on your 2017 TBR?