Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Street Team: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release: August 4, 2015
ISBN: 9781492614401
Review: 4 Stars


Jessica Verdi, the author of My Life After Now and The Summer I Wasn’t Me, returns with a heartbreaking and poignant novel of grief and guilt that reads like Nicholas Sparks for teens.

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. 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?

“Ryden’s story is a moving illustration of how sometimes you have to let go of the life you planned to embrace the life you’ve been given. A strong, character-driven story that teen readers will love.”—Carrie Arcos, National Book Award Finalist for Out of Reach

You Can Find it At:

First Impressions

When I saw the description of What You Left Behind, I knew I wanted to read it! It looked different form other stuff I'd read, and like it would be good. So, when I got an eARC of the book, I devoured. In only twenty-four hours or so.


The characters were insanely complex. Reading the novel, you really feel like you're reading about real people, not just characters. I especially loved Junie. She's a character that I feel I would be friends with in real life. Ryden was a bit whiny, but his situation did warrant it. Also, a thumbs up for an awesome mother!


The best kind of writing is the kind that you don't realize you're reading. This is that kind of writing. Instead of seeing words on a page, a movie played out in my head. And while that does happen a lot for me, it rarely happens with eBooks.


There wasn't too much world-building to be done, as it takes place in the real world. But still, it does take effort to realistically develop small-town-America. You can see the town in your head. There's the grocery store, the school, various houses, etc. This isn't something where characters suddenly drive to a place that was never mentioned before. Instead, they have specific locations that they tend to return to.

Author Bio:

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. Her favorite pastimes include singing show tunes at the top of her lungs (much to her husband’s chagrin), watching cheesy TV, and scoring awesome non-leather shoes in a size 5. She’s still trying to figure out a way to put her uncanny ability to remember both song lyrics and the intricacies of vampire lore to good use.

You Can Find Her At:
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