Book Review: HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera

Photo credit: Goodreads
So I knew going in History is All You Left Me was going to be another heartbreaking Silvera read—I mean, the premise is clearly an emotional one—but wow, I did not anticipate just how powerful and important this book would be.

Before I unabashedly sing History's praises, however, here's the Goodreads summary:

"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."

Right, so. I saw people in the GayYA conversation about the book say History starts at heartbreaking and moves toward hope, which is really a perfect way to describe it. A lot of the book is Griffin talking directly to Theo as he processes his grief and moves through a life where Theo is no longer alive. The narrative goes back and forth between the present day and the past, so we get to know Theo and Griffin's history with him, all while knowing how it's ultimately going to end. 

I sometimes have trouble with Contemporary novels keeping my attention, but this definitely wasn't a problem for History. The whole book is so beautifully written—it's raw, and emotional, and real—and had me feeling approximately all of the things a chapter or two in. 

Then there's the OCD rep. This was really interesting to me to read because the things that trigger Griffin and his compulsions are entirely different from the things that bothered me (and sometimes still do) at the height of my worst, uncontrolled probably-OCD anxiety. But that's the thing about mental illnesses—they are so varied in the way they affect people, even though representation tends to focus on one or two ways it manifests. So I was really, really happy to see not-frequently-covered ways OCD can affect someone on the page, because lack of awareness causes so much damage and this fights against it. 

All in all, I really loved this book and I know it'll stick with me for a long time. If you can handle something raw, emotional, and yes, heartbreaking, but also hopeful, then I can't recommend this incredible book more.

Diversity note: All of the main characters are queer—Griffin and Jackson are gay, Theo is bi, and there's another queer boy who says he doesn't like labels. Also, Griffin deals with OCD and (possibly, according to Griffin and his psychiatrist at the end—minor spoiler) a delusional disorder. Both the queer and OCD rep are #ownvoices.

Have you read, or do you plan to read, History?

Twitter-sized bites:

.@Ava_Jae gives 5⭐️s to HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera. Is this beautiful & powerful YA on your TBR? (Click to tweet)

Looking for a raw YA about grief, hope, and mental illness? Try HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME. (Click to tweet)

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