REVIEW: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Title: History is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Format: Paperback, 294 pages
Publication: January 17th 2017 by Soho Teen
Source: Bought from National Book Store
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Depression and Mental Illness, LGBTQIA, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Fully Booked

Synopsis

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Review

In History is All You Left Me, Silvera delivers a surprisingly quiet, thoughtful exploration of friendship, grief, love, and loss.

The book alternates in story lines between ‘History’, where we see Griffin and Theo falling in love and transitioning from best friends to boyfriends, and ‘Today’, where we see Griffin navigating through a Theo-less world. As is the case with More Happy Than Not, the author does what he does best: writing everyday moments with a severe awareness of human connection. It doesn’t matter whether Griffin, Theo, and Wade are browsing the shelves of Barnes & Noble or they’re exchanging gifts or Griffin is talking to Theo’s family, it’s compelling and laced with pockets of emotion. The parents—and all the main characters have parents—are very much a part of the story, to boot, and I like how Silvera doesn’t pull away from the infinite paradoxes of familial love. Sometimes Griffin would adore and hate his parents in one page or he would be annoyed with his dad for being too cold to Jackson but at the same time be annoyed with his mom for being too nice to Jackson or how Mr. and Mrs. Jennings, his parents, only want what’s best for their son but also operate on their own definition of what’s best for him. We still do not often see parent involvement in YA, but I’m glad there are authors like Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli who are gradually taking down the barriers.

“He shrugs, which I know he doesn’t mean as a dismissal. He’s doing that thing I’ve done before where I try to shrink my own feelings, try to make my problems sound smaller to others because sometimes people just don’t get it.”

Two of the many important themes of the book are grief and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I am not personally familiar with the former. The closest to family I’ve lost is my uncle’s wife, and I was eight. But the empathy with which Silvera looks into grief is palpable. You follow Griffin and the messed up things he does and not once do you question if this is uncalled for or unlikely. He is hurt and grieving and confused and lost and seventeen, and this ultimately affects all the relationships he has around him. And then there’s the latter. This, I am not not personally familiar with. I have a self-diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)—yes, those two are different and not by the mere addition of ‘Personality’—and I commend how consistent and consistently woven in the narrative OCD is. It plays a big part in Griffin’s story without ever taking center stage. It isn’t an item the author checked off in his list for inclusivity; it is a constant struggle for the MC and this is reality for people dealing with this mental disorder.

“‘I’m ready,” I lied. I’m hungry, I’m drained, I’m over it all, and I’m not ready.”

However, perhaps my favorite element of the whole novel is the dialogues. I don’t exactly know how to classify Silvera’s writing style. It isn’t lyrical but it also isn’t just straight-cut contemporary; there’s something rhythmic about how he plays at words, a cadence poetic all its own. Here is a person with an utter sense of language. And this is evident with the exchanges between the characters, not just between Griffin and Theo, although those are my favourite scenes. Plus, did I mention this book is filled to the brim with nerdy and pop culture references? You don’t need to be a Star Wars fan or a Potterhead, if you’ve felt passionate about something or someone, you speak Griffin’s and Theo’s language. You speak nerd. Or fanboy. Or whatever you wish to call it.

““You’re not someone that just memorizes facts for exams and forgets them the next day. You don’t just have lucky guesses in pop quizzes. You bring textbooks with you into the shower. Basically, you’re a really weird superhero.”
He forces a smile. “One day, Batman is going to take off his mask and, boom, it’ll be me.””

Silvera’s sophomore novel is quieter than his debut but it is no less vivid and heartrending.

4.0 out of 5

Author

Adam Silvera 02

Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, at a literary development company, and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller. He lives in New York City and is tall for no reason.

Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “REVIEW: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

  1. Hello! I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and am very impressed by your blog. I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful week.

    ~Breeny

    Like

    1. First, thank you for your kind words, Breeny! And welcome to the community. I’d say find your niche. Some bloggers are known for writing fun, ranty reviews, while some are wont to promote diverse lit. Some are visited—and revisited—for gorgeous designs or creative features, and some are celebrated for their badass book photography skills. And then work hard on it. Sometimes it can feel like you’re talking into the void but if you take pleasure in what you do and remain interested in it, you’ll find your footing. Lastly, as one of my heroes once said, “expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” You do you, Breeny!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this:

    “…writing everyday moments with a severe awareness of human connection. It doesn’t matter whether Griffin, Theo, and Wade are browsing the shelves of Barnes & Noble or they’re exchanging gifts or Griffin is talking to Theo’s family, it’s compelling and laced with pockets of emotion.”

    This is exactly what I feel about Silvera’s writing in general!

    Like

  3. Oh it’s so great to read your reviews again. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed that one so much 🙂 I only read More Happy Than Not and really enjoyed it, it made me cry so hard though and I think that one might have the same kind of effect on me ahah. Can’t wait to read it sometime soon, hopefully 🙂

    Like

  4. I’m happy to see you’re posting regularly, Shelumiel! I’ve missed seeing your posts around the blogosphere. And what better way to make a comeback with review of a Silvera book. I still have not read this one but I FINALLy read MHTN last year and cried buckets. It was fantastic and hard hitting as you promised. :’)

    Anyway, awesome review! I love that you point out Silvera’s distinct writing style. He definitely has a way with making readers feel for the characters via the dialogue (and character development, of course).

    Summer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Helloooooo, Summeeeeer! Thank you, it feels nice to be back and blogging again! I’ve missed talking to you. I’m absolutely (more) happy (than not) Silvera’s debut left an impression on you! Did you see the reveal coming? ‘Cause I f*cking did not!

      Like

  5. I’m so glad you liked this one too! I ADORED IT. It was heartbreaking but beautifully written and I just really loved Griffin and totally adored reading every page. And I like read it in a day and had such a hangover afterwards. ❤️💔 I need all the Silvera books now omg.

    Like

    1. IKR?!! Griffin and his OCD and grief are very thoughtfully rendered. What lucky bookworms we are Silvera never seems to rest! He has another title coming out in several months, which actually you just featured in your previous post, and I’m already sobbing!

      Like

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s