Book Review: History Is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera (2017)

Monday, January 16th, 2017

“history is how we get to keep him.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

I’m a seventeen-year-old grieving his favorite person.

We first meet Griffin Jennings on Monday, November 20th, 2016. It’s been exactly one week since his best friend and ex-boyfriend Theo McIntyre died: drowned in the Pacific Ocean while his new love, Jackson Wright, watched helplessly from the shore. Now Theo’s East Coast/West Coast lives are about to collide – over his casket, no less – as Jackson and Griffin meet for the first time at his funeral. Only things don’t play out exactly how you’d think.

Theo was most of Griffin’s firsts: first date, first kiss, first time, first love. Childhood friends, they came out to each on the L train; weeks later, they came out to their parents, together. (This was a happy scene, the sort of which all LGBTQ kids deserve.) Griffin always knew that he’d have to say goodbye to Theo, who’s one year older/ahead of him in high school – but his early admission to the animation program at Santa Monica College sure upended the timeline. Griff broke up with Theo the day before he left, thinking he’d spare himself the pain of eventually becoming the dumpee – and, just two months later, Theo began seeing Jackson. Drama, heartbreak, passive-aggressive sniping, and betrayal ensue.

We’ve all been there before. Except Theo ups and dies before any of it can be resolved, and Griffin and Jackson (not to mention Wade, the third member of the Manhattan squad) are left to sort through the detritus of a life too shortly lived.

To complicate matters further, Griffin suffers from OCD – mostly manifested in directions (left is good) and numbers (odd is bad) – which is getting progressively worse in Theo’s absence and death.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera (2015)

Monday, June 15th, 2015

The Kingda Ka of Emotional Roller Coasters

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for violence, suicide/suicide attempts, and racist/sexist/homophobic language.)

My scar is pressed against his forearm, and if I had as much hope in life back then as I do now, it would’ve never existed in the first place.

Every mistake I’ve made, every wrong I’ve repeated, every unhealed heartache: I feel it all and more as the weight of my old world crushes me. If you looked inside me, I bet you’d find two different hearts beating for two different people, like the sun and moon up at the same time, a terrible eclipse I’m the only witness to.

Aaron Soto’s having a fucking terrible year. (There is a glorious amount of swearing in More Happy Than Not, and I think it only appropriate that I pay it homage.)

Along with his older brother Eric and mother Elsie, Aaron lives in a one-bedroom apartment in the Leonardo Housing project in the Bronx. Though she’s employed full-time as a social worker at Washington Hospital and also has a second job at a supermarket, handling meat four nights a week, Elsie can barely afford to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Part of the family’s financial troubles are due to the drop from two incomes to one upon the death of Aaron’s father Mark, who killed himself four months ago; Elsie came home to find her abusive husband dead in the bathtub, his wrists sliced open and his blood coloring the bath water a horror movie shade of red. Though he didn’t get much sympathy from his so-called “friends” – Brendan, Baby Freddy, Skinny-Dave, and Me-Crazy – Aaron spent many nights crying on his girlfriend Genevieve’s lap. Despite Gen’s unwavering support, just two months later Aaron made his own attempt: a smiley face carved on his wrist, using his dead father’s straight razor.

(More below the fold…)