History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Posted January 19, 2017 by Madalyn || 18 Comments

History Is All You Left Me by Adam SilveraHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on January 17th 2017
Pages: 320
Format: e-ARC
Source: Edelweiss

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I really enjoyed Adam’s debut novel, More Happy Than Not, and Adam himself is one of my favorite humans, so I was really looking forward to History Is All You Left Me. I’m happy to say that this book did not disappoint, and also that it lives up to the Silvera legacy of making you sob uncontrollably at times. Get the tissues ready, y’all.

History Is All You Left Me is wonderfully told in a non-linear fashion: through two separate timelines, “History” and “Today.” It follows our main character, Griffin, as he navigates the loss of his best friend and first love, Theo (not a spoiler; it’s in the synopsis). However, though Griffin is our narrator, the book also follows two other boys– Jackson, Theo’s most recent boyfriend, and Wade, Griffin and Theo’s other best friend– as they come to terms with the loss of Theo. All three of these characters process grief in immensely different ways, and all of them have equally compelling stories. Griffin’s unlikely friendship with Jackson was one of my favorite parts of the book. It really showed how messy and complicated the loss of a loved one can be, and how sometimes, friendship and happiness can be found amidst the most unlikely of circumstances. Also, while we’re on the subject of characters, I adored Griffin’s parents. I find the family aspects of History is All You Left Me to be immensely underrated. More supportive, loving families who are actively present in the protagonist’s life in YA, please. Overall, there were no characters I disliked in this book, which was refreshing. I didn’t always agree with their decisions, but grief and loss make us do strange things.

In my eyes, the non-linear storytelling is one of the most brilliant aspects of History. This could easily have been an immensely dark book (well, darker than it already is) if it was only told through Griffin’s present reality. However, the “History” chapters intersperse the book with happy moments (Griffin and Theo’s first date, them falling in love in New York City, etc.) amongst all of the raw pain in the “Today” chapters. This also provided a great opportunity for the reader to get to know the characters outside of how they were affected by Theo’s death.

Obviously, because this is an Adam Silvera novel, the portrayals of both sexuality and mental health are brilliant. All of the main characters in History are queer, which some people might see as “unrealistic,” but as a queer person myself, I can assure you that we tend to travel in packs. I loved the discussions of sexuality throughout this book, particularly one between Griffin and Theo about Theo’s bisexuality– it really addressed the weird stigma bi/pan people face from the queer community. Additionally, Griffin has OCD and is dealing with increasingly worse compulsions throughout the book. It was refreshing to see such an honest portrayal of mental illness, one that was drawn directly from Silvera’s personal experience. The excellent representation of sexuality and mental illness in History is a testament to the authenticity of #ownvoices novels, and to the importance of reading #ownvoices narratives.

Oh, and I feel compelled to mention that though History Is All You Left Me is heartbreaking and dark, it is, ultimately, an incredibly hopeful book. It won’t leave you in a pit of despair upon finishing it. The ending was not only fitting, but heartening.

History is a reflective, melancholy, quietly powerful book. It explores the topics of friendship, love, mental health, relationships, and grief in such a poignant, honest way. This story and these characters will stick with me for a long while.

Bonus picture from the signing I went to with Adam and Becky Albertalli <3

Psssst… keep an eye on my Twitter over the next day or so, because I mightttt be giving away a signed copy of History Is All You Left Me over there. You know, maybe. 😉

Have you read History Is All You Left Me? If so, what are your thoughts?

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18 responses to “History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

  1. First review I read of this book that has me wanting to read it!! You seriously need to write more reviews. Wait, no, I’ll go broke if you do… This is a problem.
    Anyways, I love when books portray mental illness in a very realistic way and raise awareness. Plus, I love heartbreaking books! The kind that rip your heart out and leave you a blubbering mess but ends in such a hopeful and beautiful way *sighs happily*. I’m going to have to get this book. FANTASTIC REVIEW!!! <3
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

    • Hahaha! Thanks, Gen. 🙂 I’ve been trying to state my thoughts in a more organized way in my reviews! It’s one of my blogging resolutions for the year. I agree; I love books that portray mental illness in realistic ways– it’s so important to ending the stigma that surrounds people living with them. I really hope you enjoy this one, girl!!

  2. I have heard nothing but good things about Adam Silvera’s books and I have this one one my TBR, waiting to be bought! I’m really excited that you enjoyed it too, Madalyn. I love the sound of the characters, the mental health illness exploration and the family aspects. And I’ll take a book with an all-queer cast over one with no diversity any day!
    Beautiful review! 🙂

  3. I’m so glad you loved this one! I haven’t read any Adam Silvera’s book, but this one is high on my list! I’m so happy to hear it deals with sexuality and death in amazing way, and it has positive family potrayal. Can’t wait to read this one!

  4. That’s so interesting that the story switches between present and past! That kind of storytelling is very hit-or-miss for me, but it sounds like it really works in this book. Silvera is such a great writer and has a gift for writing dark yet hopeful stories. I’m glad he did such a beautiful job with so many tough aspects, in this book. Great review, Madalyn!

    Have a lovely weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • I agree; I love Adam’s writing. His storytelling is so honest and realistic! I’m a big fan of nonlinear timelines, and I thought the one in History was done extremely well. Thank you! Happy reading 🙂

    • It was too fun! This is actually the second time I’ve met both of them together (they were on a joint panel at the Decatur Book Festival in 2015, too). Becky is local to me, and so I’ve seen her a fair amount of times! She’s WONDERFUL, and I really hope you get to meet her someday! I’m glad you enjoyed History, too, Lauren! 🙂

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