What: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Who: Soho Teen
When: January 17th 2017
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Soho Teen for review via Edelweiss.
OCD-afflicted Griffin has just lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident. In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he forges a friendship with Theo’s last boyfriend, Jackson. When Jackson begins to exhibit signs of guilt, Griffin suspects he’s hiding something, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Theo’s death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth—both in terms of what he’s willing to hide and what true love means.
Wow. Just wow.
I thought I’d like History Is All You Left Me because it sounded gorgeous and everyone loved More Happy Than Not (don’t kill me because I haven’t read it yet! I have the ebook and will be rectifying this ASAP), but I honestly don’t even know if I expected to love it this much?
First, we have Griffin. Griffin is the kind of nuanced character that everyone wants to read about. He feels so incredibly real when you’re reading about him. And he’s not perfect. Not by any means. And I guess that’s what does make him the perfect character. Because people are not always going to make the right decision, or say or do the right thing. And Griffin definitely doesn’t always get it right but I swear that made me love him even more.
This book is PAIN. I have to tell you that straight up. This is not a fluffy book. This is a book that will tear your heart out and make you ache for a happily ever after and want everything to be right. But this book is also about growth and learning and letting people in. And those things can be hard. And Silvera doesn’t make it look easy. Griffin goes through so many things in History and none of them are wiped away with an “easy fix”.
The ships. I just can’t even with the ships? Like. I adored Griffin and Theo. ADORED. I thought they were adorable and they loved each other so much and their relationship just had that beautiful first love quality to it that hits me right in the heart. But then Griffin breaks up with Theo, and Theo gets a new boyfriend, and then Theo dies. And it’s like: why. WHY. To be honest, I did quite like Jackson and Griffin, even though I knew it was unhealthy and pretty toxic but I don’t know? I guess I just liked how they understood each other and were there for each other and that also hit me in the heart. But, like, the last ship. DAYUM THAT LAST SHIP. I SHIPPED IT A LOT AND LIKE. YEAH. That’s all I’m going to say.
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt it but when I really love a character and shitty things happen to that character I literally ache. Like, I feel that squeeze of my heart that is just: I want my baby to be okay, and for bad things to stop happening, and for them to be loved for exactly who they are – imperfections and all. History made me feel this way the whole time I read it. I ached for Griffin from beginning to end, and I just wanted to wipe away his pain with a magic wand. I just wanted him to be HAPPY, DAMMIT.
One of the many things that were handled so masterfully in History was Griffin’s OCD. His OCD was never made out to be something “interesting” about him, and it wasn’t ever anything that only popped up when it was “inconvenient”. A lot of his life was impacted by his OCD, and it wasn’t magically healed by Theo’s love or anyone else’s. I must say that I’m not sure how I felt about Wade being so pushy about forcing Griffin to stop some of his compulsive behaviours. I don’t think exposure and response prevention forced by a friend was exactly the best way to start things off, but Griffin was seeing someone regarding his OCD by the end of the book so at least Wade’s method wasn’t portrayed as some magical cure.
Before I wrap up this review (because I could write about a lot of other things to be honest), I gotta talk about Theo. Dude bro, who even were you? Like, I loved Theo when he was with Griffin. But then Griffin breaks up with him before Theo can do the breaking up (which, Griffin, wasn’t the best goddamn idea you ever had), and then about two weeks later he has a new boyfriend. And then all this other stuff happens (which I’ll leave out because spoilers) and I was just so angry with him. He wanted the best of both worlds, and he was hella emotionally manipulative regarding Griffin’s feelings and even though I wanted them to be endgame because Griffin did I also kind of didn’t. Because Theo wasn’t treating Griffin or Jackson right and it wasn’t okay. Theo, why you do this.
To finish: History Is All You Left Me was my five star book of 2017, and I can tell you now it’ll be on my end of year favourites list.
© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning: death of a friend (drowning), OCD, emotional abuse, homophobia, familial bullying, grandparent with dementia, and romantic cheating in this novel