What You Left Behind – Jessica Verdi


5/5 Heartbreaking Stars

On The Back:

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 journals 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?

My Thoughts:

Ryden is a junior. He had it all, he was popular and the star of his soccer team. But then he starts seeing Meg, a cancer patient who he gets pregnant. Now fast forward to the summer before Ry’s senior year he’s working at Whole Foods, trying to be a single parent, and blaming himself for Meg’s death. It is at the end of this summer when What You Left Behind takes place.

This book was simply astounding. It was one of the best books I have read this year, filled with a realistic cast of characters and a story that defies the norms in a good way.

Most YA stories involve a tragic romance and a female protagonist. I’m happy to say that this book only has to tragic romance, but it also defies the norms. For instance, this book is from a male’s perspective which is a huge difference, but a really nice difference. Also, this book has another major subject that is rarely focused on in YA books; teen pregnancy. In this book Ry has a daughter, a daughter named Hope.

The author, Ms. Verdi, did an amazing job of accurately describing how Ry would feel in the situation he was in. At times, yes, he came off as self-centered and selfish, but that’s to be expected in his situation. I don’t think anyone would act any different in his situation. The rest of the cast of characters, Mabel, Joni, Hope, Ry’s mother, and the rest of them were also superbly written,

Overall an amazing, simply amazing, book. I will gladly read a sequel if one ever comes out and will look for more work from this author. This was the type of book that leaves you feeling good inside; I simply devoured it. Highly recommend!

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley*


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