What I really loved about this book was that it featured a teenage dad. That feels like such a unique perspective to find in YA book but a role that is filled regularly in real life. And even better on finding this unique perspective is to find that it does it with a realistic, unsentimental angle.What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
on August 4th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues
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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. 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?
First Line of What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
“If there’s a more brain-piercing sound than a teething baby crying, I can’t tell you what it is.”
My Thoughts on What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi:
This story is told from the pov of Ryden and one thing you have to know about Ryden is that his life is a little like a Shakespeare tragedy. His girlfriend who had cancer has died giving birth to their baby daughter Hope. And now he is left with all the responsibility, none of the know how and a large bucket of resentment.
I liked that this book wasn’t sugar coated. Ryden doesn’t want his life to change, he wants to play soccer, go to college, go to keg parties and he makes rash and often self-centred decisions. But this all felt so realistic to me. He is a teenage boy thrown into situations that a person twice his age would struggle to cope with.
We only get to know Hope’s mother via her journal entries and we get a glimpse of just how much being a mother meant to her. I know lots of people won’t get her decision but I do. I empathise totally with her choices.
The other main character in the book is Joni who works with Ryden after school in Whole Foods. I liked her character; she is quirky, spirited and a little bit wacky. And I LOVED her reactions to events in the book, I loved that she put herself first, as a young unencumbered teenager, that is exactly what she should do.
The whole book is realistic, sad but hopeful and full of meaning. I loved the theme of having to accept what life throws at you and just making the best of what you have. I also appreciated that the romance was central to the plot but it didn’t take over from the theme of moving on and acknowledging that you can’t change the past.
If I have to stick my really critical hat on; I’d say the book tries to take on to many issues; teenage pregnancy, teenage cancer, death, money worries, the woman’s right to choose. That’s a pretty wide agenda but you know what? It still worked. I appreciated the struggle of the characters and it was written in such a relatable style that I really enjoyed following along on their journey.
Overall big thumbs up. Looks like I need to check out some more books by Jessica Verdi.
|Did I feel it?|
Who should read What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi?
I’d highly recommend this to you if you like coming of age books that deal with emotional issues in a meaningful way. I’d also recommend this to you if you like character growth, an authentic feeling male point of view and a poignant storyline. Fans of Weightless by Sarah Bannan, Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross and Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian might also enjoy.
Thanks to NetGalley and Source Books for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.