A stunning novel about first loves, grief and OCD
This book. This book. This. Book.
I finished History is All You Left Me several weeks ago, lying on my couch feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. I'm still thinking about this book.
HIAYLM follows Griffin, a young New Yorker mourning the loss of his first love Theo.
Silvera takes his grief narrative one step further than the usual, and so the novel is told in two timelines: the present tense, beginning with Theo's funeral, and the past, beginning with the day Griffin and Theo admit their feelings for each other.
This means you have to experience Theo's death twice.
Once as a relative unknown, and once as a character you have learned to love through the novel. It hurts so much, even as a reader.
Alongside struggling with the loss of the most important person in his life, we follow Griffin's experiences with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, witnessing how changes in his personal circumstances dramatically interfere with his mental health. This is important as YA that mixes lesser publicised mental health issues and significant life changes helps show the fluidity of these problems; they do not exist in a vacuum, but instead remain a backdrop to our lives while we have them.
He's left me thinking about first love and what it would be to lose someone so young. I can't stop thinking about the implications that unearth themselves quickly; the other people in their lives, how the seeming simplicity of two boys in love unfurls to reveal the complications of relationships, the tangled threads.
I'm still overwhelmed with emotions about this wonderful little book. I have Adam Silvera's next book They Both Die at the End on my desk and part of me is wondering if I can actually cope with this book after History is All You Left Me, but I have to. Silvera's writing is captivating, heartfelt, lyrical, passionate.
This is definitely going to be in my top few young adult novels of the year because I cannot get Theo and Griffin out of my mind.
Go buy it.
Thank you kindly to Simon and Schuster for sharing this copy with me.