Nov 13, 2015

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: August 4, 2015

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 journal 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?

I don't like this book. Never had, and I'd probably never will.

What You Left Behind has such a gorgeous cover and a promising synopsis, so when I first saw this in Netgalley, I was bound to read immediately! Unfortunately, I was disappointed instead after reading through the whole thing. This story covers our protagonist named Ryden Brooks, who is a seventeen-year-old teenage father. He has a daughter named Hope, who is the only living remnant of his past girlfriend who had died from two things.

Meg (Ryden's girlfriend) suffered from melanoma, a form of skin cancer. She still has a chance of survival, all thanks to the chemotherapy to which her body is responding to quite well. But when Ryden suddenly gets her pregnant, Meg halts her treatment to give birth to her child. She dies midsurgery at age 17.

Her name is Hope. And Ryden is the father. With Meg gone, Ryden feels obligated to care for his daughter -- because he knew Meg would want that -- while he juggles school, soccer, and life. He searches for Meg's journal to find a secret message that she must've left behind, but then Ryden meets a new girl, Joni. She doesn't know about his child, but he's suddenly in love with her.

When I realized that this book was about teen pregnancy and parenthood, I was like: "LET ME READ IT." Of course, I don't support the idea of teen pregnancy, but how many YA books out there tackle this topic? Little to none! That's why I was so interested in this one!

But what I thought would be such a great book ended up disappointing me instead!

Firstly, the writing annoyed me to no end! It was like reading a diary of a 17-year-old teenage boy whose thoughts were endless and all over the place. I was basically irritated by the narration because it was neither descriptive nor beautiful; instead, it was purely rambley! It literally made me more annoyed to see that this book was written in first-person perspective because I had to endure his rambles until the end.

Furthermore, Ryden himself became a problem. Do you know what he just did? He fell in love with Meg, got her pregnant even if he KNEW she had cancer, and basically fell in love with another girl just after Meg died.

Is this even for real?!

How can you literally get a girl with cancer to be PREGNANT?! That was the most horrifying thing Ryden ever had to do! He knew that she was suffering from melanoma, and yet he made her get through this. And then, while caring for his daughter, he fell in love with another girl? I was so mad! Like, WHY?! 

What You Left Behind had so much potential! The idea of a boy taking in the role as a teenage dad and then seeking out his old girlfriend's journals to see what she left behind was so intriguing! But this book made me so mad and annoyed!

3 stars for this one. A promising novel, but I am just so disappointed. I'm not quite sure if I'd recommend this to anyone.

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