Thursday, July 23, 2015

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

ARC, 358 pages
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher (This ARC was given to me by the publishers. This in no way shaped my opinion on the book. A huge thank you goes out to the publisher for letting me read and review this title.)
For fans of: Contemporary, Romance, Diversity FTW, Male POV, Grief, Drama, DEAR, Health Issues, Stand-alones, YA

     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?


     One day, way, way back in the day before I even knew about this freaking book, I was on Twitter and there was a trending topic going on about what we wished authors would write about. One of the tweets I wrote said I wished for a dude to be taking care of his child instead of the mother. I thought I was going to have to start reading more adult before I ever found a story like that. Until one day, almost a year ago I noticed this book on Goodreads. 
"It turns out it's a lot easier to deal with stuff when you have a plan."
pg. 13
     Meg is gone and Ryden can't get over her. Why? He's the reason why she died. He got her pregnant and made her quit chemo. And now she's gone and he's stuck raising their daughter all alone. Until Joni comes along. But he's not ready for anything with another chick.... Or is he? 
"I don't know what I was thinking coming here. I guess I thought I could, for a moment go back to being 'Ryden Brooks,' instead of 'Hope's dad.' But that's who I'll be for the rest of my life. Even if I don't have the first clue how to do it."
pg. 29
     I knew from the start this book would pull on my heart strings, but I wasn't prepared for the way it slaughtered my feels. The amount of angst, love, grief, hate, and any other emotion you can think of is in this book and it makes it nothing less than AMAZING. There were so many times I had to put this book down because my eyes hurt from crying, I was so mad at one of the MC's, or I was embarrassed for someone. I think it had a perfect portrayal of what a teen boy would feel in this situation.
"I told Ryden what I want to name the baby today. Hope Rosa Brooks. I like the sound of that. Pretty strong. The sound of someone who has her two feet solidly on the ground and knows which direction to walk."
pg. 68
     I was so happy when I read this book. Only because we always see a woman (no matter what the age) left behind with a baby. This is the one time that I've seen that there is a man left with a baby. Tack on to the fact that they were teens, it made the story all the more unique. To make it better, this entire book seemed so real. I could definitely see Ryden trying desperately trying to hold on to his old life and trying so hard to find someone or something to blame. He never really got a chance to grieve, so all that he did was let everything build up and build up. I felt so sorry for him. It took him so long to realize everything wasn't about him anymore.
"Is it possible to have a flashback to a moment that never happened?"
pg. 109
     As for the romance, I don't want to go too much into it to avoid spoilers, but Joni is exactly what he needs. I was so happy that he was able to at least have a little happiness because for the most part, Ryden was depressed. Getting him just a tiny bit of happiness was all I could ask for. As for Joni, she was adorable. A little crazy, but still super fun. I respected her so much for her decision and I really felt I would have done the same thing. For her to be thrown in that situation, she handled it as well as anyone in that situation would have and was completely dignified about the entire thing.
"Real friends are harder to come by."
pg. 213
     The best thing about this book is the lesson. Not only does it show what teen life is like with a child, but it gives light to how it is when one parent leaves and the other is left behind. To make it better, they are still in school. I don't want to say I was happy, but I was. I need this book to help show teens that kids are real life and these things happen with no protection. I can see myself and other librarians and teachers using this book to help teens learn more about teen pregnancy in school.
"Why does everything suck so bad? Even when you think it's getting better, it's not. Life's building up suckiness, getting ready to hit you again at the worst possible moment."
pg. 274
     Jessica Verdi is one of my favorites when it comes to learning lessons and uniqueness in YA. She's written about teens not being afraid to be LGBTQIA, a teen contracting HIV, and now a male teen with a child raising her on his own. I love that she is not scared to put topics that haven't really been discussed into the world. Because of that, she's added herself to my "auto-buy authors." Thank you Verdi for going against the norm.
Overall, I give this


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