Book Review – History Is All You Left Me

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing a book by one of my favorite authors, History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. My initial plans for posts this week were all screwed up from experiencing an internet outage yesterday. So, I figured why not continue to buck my usual posting trends by doing an impromptu review today. I’ll hopefully be back with a new Top 5 Tuesday next week, but today I just had to get my thoughts about this book out of my head.

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 don’t even know how to go about reviewing this book. So, prepare for rambling. As anyone who follows my blog or reviews probably knows by now, Adam Silvera is one of my favorite authors, and this book is an excellent example of why he holds that place at the top for me. I felt so many emotions while reading this book, and I didn’t want to put it down. There is just something about the way Silvera writes that oozes emotion. I was in tears not long after starting the book, and it just got even more emotional from there. For the first half of this book, it felt like the raw essence of depression and grief had bled all over the pages and somehow been transformed into words. The juxtaposition of the grief-filled chapters with the alternating chapters highlighting the history of the young love between the main character and the boy who died was genius writing. It was such a punch to the gut every time the focus returned to the funeral/grief reminding me that the vibrant young boy from the chapters on their history was laying in the coffin.

While I was largely overwhelmed by grief during the first half of the book, my emotions changed drastically as the book progressed. As more information about the characters came to light, the strongest emotions I felt were frustration and pity. The exploration of Griffin’s anxiety, OCD, and guilt was super messy in a relatable, realistic way. He made so many horrible decisions, and the information about him and many of the other characters that came to light completely changed my opinions of them. The experience of reading this book felt like slowly falling further and further into madness while at the same time getting a sense of how out of touch with reality some of the earlier, seemingly straightforward content, was likely to be. By the end, I can’t say I really liked many of the characters, if any, but I walked away impressed by Silvera’s ability to create compelling descriptions of mental illness and the effect it can have on one’s life and one’s relationships. His writing was, as always, utterly human with devastatingly flawed characters front and center.

The mark of a great book (for me at least) is not being able to stop thinking about it even after I put it down. This one has left me thinking about love, loss, and my own struggles with depression and anxiety. In that way, it has been intensely triggering but in a good way that has been quite cathartic. I doubt this book will be for everyone, but if you’ve liked some of Silvera’s other work and don’t mind incredibly messy characters and depressing content, you will probably like this one too. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

7 thoughts on “Book Review – History Is All You Left Me

  1. Your review doesn’t sound ramble-y at all! This book sounds like it hurts in a good kind of way? I’m glad you enjoyed it & found it cathartic. I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea, but it always feels extra special to find a book that leaves you with a hangover.

    • Thanks! My initial thoughts were much more rambling, but I decided to stop while I was ahead and just have the review be about vibes. lol. I have major thoughts on all the characters, plot points, and the terrible parents, but I decided not to go there because it would turn into an essay. I don’t think this one would be your cup of tea either, but if you’re ever feeling down and need a good cry, the first half of this book is great for that. 🙂

  2. We have the same criteria for a great book. I know a book is great when I feel sad and lost after finishing it. Call it having a book hangover.

    I loved the book so much, cried for the most part while reading the book. I have to say the last chapters really took me by surprise. And I have never struggled so much to find a favourite character in a book.

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