Review: History is All You Left Me

30626556>You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate 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 ultimately means…

Reviewing this book is difficult because I have a lot of conflicting feelings about it. Overall, I liked it and it’s definitely a good story, but there were a few things here and there that didn’t sit quite right for me.

It took me a while to get into the story and become fully invested in what happens to the characters. That was partially my fault, since I’m in a bit of a reading slump, but it is also incredibly difficult to get readers to care about a character’s death right at the outset. That said, though, by the time I was halfway through the book, I was fully committed. Adam Silvera made me care. A lot.

If I hadn’t been in a house full of sleeping people at the time, I probably would’ve screamed a little bit around the 3/4 mark because oh my god what the HELL. As it is, I had to take a moment to flail around and became the actual personification of that gritted teeth emoji. My Goodreads status updates for that section include: “Oh lordy,” “GRIFFIN NO” and “OH MY GOD.” It takes some real talent to piss me off that much without making me hate the book itself. So kudos to Adam for that.

However, I had some issues with biphobia in the text. The first time was right after the gay MC found out a character was bi and said some ignorant stuff about it, which annoyed me but I got over it and moved on. The second notable occasion happened near the end of the book when another character who was possibly bi got into that “no labels” stuff that is really frustrating to read because it’s so easy for authors to learn not to do that. That same character was later assumed to be gay by someone else even though it was never confirmed whether he preferred gay or bi or any label at all. It didn’t ruin the book for me, but it was annoying and soured my temperament towards it a little.

On the upside, it’s nice to see a mentally ill character ultimately receive the treatment he needs. I also really liked Jackson and got a strong feel for Theo through the nonlinear narrative. It’s not my favourite take on this kind of posthumous characterisation (that honour goes to FAR FROM YOU), but it’s certainly effective. The whole thing with Wade could’ve been better developed but Griffin was being an unreliable narrator at that point so I can understand why that part was shown the way it was. The last part of the book felt rushed, like it could have benefited from a little extra development, but the ending itself certainly packed the emotional punch I was hoping for.

Overall, HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME is a solid read, with a few issues that will hopefully not appear again in Adam Silvera’s writing. Even if he’s not exactly an auto-buy author for me, I certainly haven’t been turned off reading his other works. But, by God, I hope he refrains from writing biphobia into his books in the future because I really want to like his writing.

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