Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Release Date/Publisher: August 4th 2015 by Sourcebooks
Finished: June 10th 2015
Pages: 320-ARC Paperback-Given for review
Synopsis from Goodreads:
It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.
The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?
What I Thought:
I received an advanced copy of this for review at a local book blogger meet-up.
This book will definitely make you cry or have many different feeling attack you. I was sad, happy, but also frustrated. I normally don’t like books with cancer because they’re always so sad, but I really wanted to try this one out.
Ryden deals with a lot of loss and grief and not wanting to move on after Meg dies and leaves him to take care of Hope. I have to say that he doesn’t handle it too well, but after a while he does really try. I don’t think anyone in his situation would handle that perfectly. His soccer seems like the most important thing to him no matter what too. I know he’s still a high school student and he was going through a lot, but I would have liked it if he spent more time with Hope actually trying to be better for her, not just leaving her with other people constantly. He also doesn’t always appreciate what others are doing for him. He’s not perfect but he doesn’t know what to do, and he seemed like such a realistic character because of this. I didn’t always agree with his choices but I can’t fault him for how he was. I really felt sorry for him too.
The journals and Ryden trying to figure out things are the main focus of the book and I really liked that. I loved the idea of the journals even though they’re what made me cry mostly. We never actually get to meet Meg u=but you get a good sense of what she’s like through her words. Joni isn’t as involved in the book near the beginning, she comes in as just a friend but ends up helping him a little. It’s not a full-blown romance, but as a mutual like that starts and isn’t the main focus of the book. I actually really liked Joni. She was different and kind of crazy but she was also fun. Ryden doesn’t miraculously fully heal because of her help, they end up slowly becoming closer while mostly staying friends and he slowly handles things in his own way.
I have to say that this book wasn’t what I was expecting. Oh I knew it would probably make me cry. It showed a young single dad trying to figure out what he was supposed to do at an already important time in his life when most kids are confused about their futures. I really appreciated seeing it from a guy’s point of view and although he sometimes frustrated me, I was there hoping things would work out for him.