History is All You Left Me – A Review of Sorts

Yash Kesanakurthy is a writer, book blogger and publishing studies student with a Masters of Children’s Literature who’s a passionate advocate for diversity and representation in literature. This post is reprinted with permission and thanks.

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. — [X]

Thoughts

After More Happy Than Not you’d think I’d make the smart choice and read something else, anything else, and definitely not pick History Is All You Left Me as a commute read, but no, turns out I’m just that much of a moron.

  • I could not put it down, though.
  • So I blinked away tears as I read, but I did not stop reading.
  • Let’s talk about the easy things first: the writing and the pacing. I didn’t think the style of the prose in More Happy Than Not was bad per se, but I definitely felt that History Is All You Left Me had writing that flowed like silk. I’ve only read the books Silvera has out, but I can say that this an author whose craft is only getting better.
  • He also has a very distinct style. Something about his sentences are just so gorgeous and so him. I think the only other time I’ve felt like this, like I was reading a signature of sorts, was with Neil Gaiman’s writing.
  • And the pacing was a surprise. I don’t know why I thought the jacket cover had given everything away and this would be a slow walk through a boy’s trauma? But turns out–maybe not to anyone’s surprise–a good author can draw readers deep into a book with just one simple question: will these characters be okay?
  • Now, for the hard stuff: mainly, Griffin. I don’t really know how to talk about Griffin. He makes smile and sob and he’s just my favourite. The summary hints at his OCD and his “destructive choices”, but no matter what he does or says or doesn’t say, no matter how flawed, Griffin is just so easy to love. Which makes History Is All You Left Me all the more heartbreaking to read.
  • As far as I can tell, Griffin’s OCD is realistically explored, how he does/doesn’t deal with it and how the traumatic loss of a first love exacerbated his compulsions. I also really appreciate that the OCD isn’t romanticized–even though Theo used to view them as quirks–and has a real impact on Griffin’s life.
  • I only wish we could have gotten more of a character who wasn’t mentioned in the summary, but plays a rather important role in Griffin’s life. Perhaps that is my one minor complaint.
  • History Is All You Left Me is by no means an easy read, but it is a damn good read and so worth the heartache. So long as you have chocolate/friends to hug/comfort reads close by/all of the above, you’re good to go. ❤

Quotes

“I’m sure there will be some interesting people at the flea market. Like hipsters.”

“Hipsters are characters, not people,” Theo says.

“Don’t hipster-shame. Some of them have real feelings underneath their beanie hats and vintage flannels.”

Look, there are unexpectedly funny bits too, okay?

Of course, there’s also these parts:

I think about alternate universes as we lay you to rest in this one. There are billions, trillions, existing all at once: one where we never broke up, one out of reach from oceans that have it in for you, one where we both moved to California for school … countless more where things are right, maybe with some touches of wrong. But in all of them, you and I are more than history. I have to believe these universes exist; it’s the only way to manage the suffering here.

Just … learn from my mistakes? Skip the kajal if you choose to read it in public. Especially if you’re headed to class and don’t want to show up as that girl from The Ring.

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