My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 7th, 2017
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Life and Death, Grief, Romance, Friendship, Coming-of-Age, Mental Illness
OCD-afflicted Griffin has just lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident. In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he forges a friendship with Theo’s last boyfriend, Jackson. When Jackson begins to exhibit signs of guilt, Griffin suspects he’s hiding something, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Theo’s death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth—both in terms of what he’s willing to hide and what true love means.
This is the moment of the end. This is where we give up hope on reversing time, where we abandon finding a cure to death, where we live in this Theo-less universe, where we say goodbye.
I never thought I’d say something like this about an Adam Silvera book, ever, but here’s the ugly truth: I struggled to finish History Is All You Left Me.
Really, really struggled.
It’s not that it isn’t lyrically-written, like More Happy Than Not, because it truly is—and more.
The writing is excellent, as is the main character, Griffin. He constantly reminded me of Aaron Soto from Silvera’s previous novel.
Which is not a bad thing in itself, since I adore tranquil, trust-worthy, open-to-love heroes struggling with personal matters and trying to find their way… coming-of-age style.
There is no actual problem I can pinpoint about this novel, though I did feel rather unsatisfied about the way Silvera explored the ‘‘mental illness—OCD’’ theme.
I will admit that I have no close family or friends with a mental illness similar to this one, so it’s safe to say that I can only imagine what it must be like and not fully understand it to the core of its definition, but I couldn’t help but feel that something sounded unauthentic about Griffin’s OCD.
Plus I think that with the theme of death, and love, and grief, and coming-of-age, and friendship… it was a little over-the-top to also try to develop a mental illness theme into the plot. Because the author really does try to develop it—it’s not just that Griffin has OCD, but it really affects his life and the plot itself.
Aside from that, I found Griffin’s first love interest (yes, there are multiple ones), Theo, rather unoriginal. I understood how he made Griffin feel special, but so many other people can do that, if they’re willing, so Theo looked just like one of many other guys to my eyes. The secondary characters also left me feeling like I should see something more in them—something different—but I couldn’t.
On the bright side, History Is All You Left Me is realistic enough to send waves of emotions through the reader during heartbreaking scenes, but lyricism isn’t enough. I’ll just say it: this isn’t a very original story and little about it surprised me.
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