Monday, February 6, 2017

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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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.

When History opens, you're immediately hit with the reality that someone is dead which sets the tone for the sombre, heart-wrenching read about love, loss and regrets that follows. 

I found the protagonist, Griffin easy to like. He's simultaneously charming and self-deprecating, capturing your attention at once. He and Theo have this effortless connection that many people yearn for. But it's a sucky time to be in love at seventeen when everyone inevitably moves away or on to something new. So it is with Theo who ends up going to college in California. If you love something set it free, and that's exactly what Griffin does for him, believing that their bond is strong enough to carry them through the next few years until they can come back together. That's always been the end game in Griffin's mind. The best intentions can sometimes go awry and it happens when Theo meets someone else while away. And when he unexpectedly dies, the only person who can truly understand what Griffin's going through is Jackson, Theo's new boyfriend. Griffin has no choice but to censor his bitterness and grief in order to come to terms with Theo's death, his own role in the fragmenting of their relationship and what Jackson's presence meant for their future. 

Here's something I've discovered recently: I have an appreciation for authors who can describe love and being in love in all its various degrees. Silvera captures the joy of crushing on someone, then falling in love and within that, the complexities of falling in love at such a young age when there's still more of life to explore. A shattered, grieving heart that also hopes for a reconciliation. Finally, what seems like the irrevocably broken soul that only comes with losing a beloved and that dreadful feeling that one can never be whole again. 

History's unexpected gift is how Silvera opened my eyes to OCD. Griffin has a few "quirks" and while they don't inhibit him from functioning like most people, they're things that occupy his mind. For example his need for things to be in even numbers or being to the left of someone. It's common to picture OCD as extremely debilitating or blatantly obvious. But in Griffin, I learned that there are different forms and he simply preferred a certain symmetry to things. Theo knew this and accepted them as is, even accommodating him.

Adam Silvera knows how to write, how to tap into those emotions and express them in his stories. His characters aren't outlandish heroes but lowkey and introspective. Their bravery comes through when their walls come down and they can no longer hide behind them. For a second time thanks to History Is All You Left Me, I find his characters becoming a little part of me.

~ Bel

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