Aug 26, 2016
This review is based on an advance unedited copy received in exchange for a honest review. Quotes mentioned are subject to change in the final version.
Before I start off with this review, I want to say that this book left a personal impact on me. So I might tend to get a bit personal at times. You've been warned! :)
Where do I even start? Reading History is All You Left Me was one epic, emotional roller coaster ride. I was expecting to get my heart broken when I started the book - even Adam himself warned me that this book is sad! But I don't know whether I was ready for this much emotions, this much feels and especially the personal connection I was able to create with the book and the characters. It still baffles me how such a happy and vibrant person such as Adam Silvera can write a book which will make you cry so badly and throughout the story!
Griffin has lost the love of his life. First to another guy. Then to a drowning accident which takes him away from him forever. Dealing with grief, mourning, guilt, frustration and a lot of emotions, he lives through the history Theo - his ex - left behind, and on this journey tags along the most unlikely partner in crime - the guy Griffin lost Theo to. Amidst all this, is Griffin's OCD, his tension with his best friend Wade, certain secrets that has been haunting him and the toll his grief is having on everyone around him as well as himself. History is All You Left Me is the beautiful story which traces Griffin's life of love, loss, lies, grief, pain, memories and moving on.
Losing someone you love is a painstaking experience which leaves a lasting impact on you. I have personal experience with this, I have lost not one, but three close friends in my short existence. One back in 2014, to a failed operation, two back in May in a sudden and horrific train accident. While the former death was still hard, the latter had a larger and more painful impact, as it was so sudden, so unexpected and I practically couldn't function for a week. To make the entire experience more terrible, I met the both of them at around 5.30 p.m on the road, they got hit by a train roughly around 7 the same evening. Months have passed by, but I have never gotten over their deaths. Hell, I haven't gotten over the death of my friend back in 2014. Moving on is healthy, but nobody said it was easy. The grief, the impact, the memories - they just never leave you, for a long time.
Having said that, when I read Griffin's story of coping with the death of Theo - his best friend, the boy he loved, the boy with whom he shared all his firsts, his best and worst moments - I wanted to hug him tight and say, I know what you feel. Everyone deals with grief differently. I am the type of person who smiles so bright on the outside that you wouldn't even take a guess of what's actually going on within me. Griffin doesn't do that. He embraces it, deals with it and give in to his emotions. Which one of us is being healthy, I don't know, but I did understand the depth of his feelings and experience.
This book is filled with conflicting emotions. Adam Silvera's writing is so raw, so honest and so beautiful, that he is able to bring about all these, without overdoing at any point. There's so much authenticity and passion in his writing. His style is beautiful, his words powerful and the alternating shift in time - the book goes back to history and focuses on the today back to back - all comes out together to deliver a poignant and moving tale.
The characters were amazing. We have Griffin, who by the end of the novel will definitely make a lasting impact on you. Theo, who despite being dead from the first chapter of the book itself, is one remarkable character, and it is easy to understand why those who loved him suffer so much to deal with his absence in their lives. Jackson, whom you'll grow to hate and then love, along with Griffin. Probably my favourite is Wade, with his deep emotions, loyalty, support and empathy.
The beautiful thing about these boys, is that none of them are perfect, Even Theo, the guy everyone cherishes from their memories, is as flawed as the three, and I loved them all for it. These guys are selfish, lost, confused, difficult, at times frustrating and in the end, beautifully and glaringly human.
And we come to that aspect which probably made the most impact on me. Griffin's OCD. This is the first time ever I read about a character who has an obsession with numbers. While I will be lying if I said that I understood his need to be on people's left side - one half of his OCD - the way he was obsessed with even numbers and tried to avoid odd numbers as much as possible? I get it. Maybe a bit too much.
So here's the deal. I've always had an unhealthy obsession with the number 9. Everything new or special thing I start or do - the date, the time, any number related thing has to be 9, or tally up to 9 in some way. I have no idea how it all started, but it took me some time to understand that it's not something I can just shrug off. All the important things in my life has to happen on either the 9th, 18th or 27th. I am willing to accept multiples of 3, and that's the end of it. Any failure, I blame it on the date, any success I give the credit to the date as well. Index numbers, phone numbers, seat numbers - if they don't tally up to 9, I am extremely nervous. I've had a panic attack before an exam once because of an unfavourable index number. I remember going for my US VISA interview on the 5th, getting rejected, and comforting myself that the problem was the date. Well it didn't help that I reapplied, went for an interview on the 27th and got it!
The thing is, I never realized or put a name for all this madness. I know that my obsession is bordering unhealthy, but I just didn't know how to figure it out. When I read History, and read about Griffin's situation, things fell into place. And a beautiful connection was formed between him and me, because finally I felt like I found someone who went through something similar. I was able to come to terms that indeed I have OCD, and I begrudgingly accepted the fact. It was an important self discovery for me, and I have to say an enormous thank you to Adam Silvera for that!
Having said all of that, I'll recommend this book to anyone and everyone! If you are ready to face some heartbreak, deal with some heavy grief and go on a beautiful journey with some flawed yet real guys, then this is the book for you. If you are expecting a love story of two guys finding their soul mate while dealing with shared grief, then sweetheart, I am sorry, you gotta get yourself ready for something much more deep. History is all You Left Me is beautiful, painful, raw and absolutely amazing, with a bittersweet ending which will leave your hearts heavy and eyes wet.