REVIEW: History is all you left me by Adam Silvera
TITLE: History is all you left me
AUTHOR: Adam Silvera
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.
Theo McIntyre is the sun that lights up everyone’s life: he’s smart and imaginative, he’s gentle and he always tries to be nice. He’s a very talented boy who has a bright future ahead of him… Until it gets dark and Theo doesn’t exist anymore. Here we start reading, at this point of the story: Theo is dead and Griffin, his best friend and also ex boyfriend, is in deep grief and doesn’t really know if he could bear going to his love’s funeral.
Adam Silvera tells us this story through Griffin’s voice, alternating current events and past event (history and today). Theo was actually a star for Griffin, he was his first love, the first guy he kissed, the first guy he invited to dinner, the first one he spent nights and days with, the first guy he had sex with… He was his universe, in every possible universe he could imagine. To tell the truth, this was one of Theo’s great inventions: he liked to create as many universes as possibile in his mind, places where things could have gone differently. These universes were gigantic what if. Nevertheless, Griffin had always thought that he would have always ended up with Theo. They were endgame, it was written in the stars. Even if Theo had moved to California, even if he had a new boyfriend. It didn’t matter. They would have found each other again. But now Theo is dead. And there’s no “again”, no future, no possibilities, no other universe.
Griffin’s sorrow hits the reader with heavy despair; I could really feel his affliction and I could share his feeling of being alone in his grief. Theo is dead. Theo is dead. Theo is dead. That’s a sentence Griffin can’t stop repeating but which he can’t accept. Theo cannot be dead. But he is. The first half of the book is a river of tears, a path of suffering without relief. And that was also the part of the novel that I preferred… Yeah, I was kind of fascinated by the intensity of Griffin’s feeling and stuck by the author’s ability to describe it.
Strange but true, the only person who can understand Griffin is Jackson, Theo’s new boyfriend. The two boys – the ex and the last boyfriend – start spending time together, remembering Theo, sharing memories of him and becoming closer and closer. For sure Jackson’s friendship helps Griffin getting out from his dark abyss; although I’m not so sure I really liked their relationship and the way the author decided to develop it.
I appreciated Griffin and Wade’s relationship far more. Wade has always been Theo’s friend and a part of the squad. In the book Wade starts being very important from the second half of the story, but his behavior is much more resposible and healthy, so I loved how he tries to help Griffin.
As always, Adam Silvera deals with a delicate topic, but one which needs to be faced: in this case, it’s death. Or, better said, what death leaves behind, that is to say grief and pain. I believe this theme was wonderfully explored, and that’s why I strongly suggest History is all you left me.
The author also approached another difficult matter: mental illness. Griffin suffers from OCD and his compulsions are a constant in his life. Being in the protagonist’s mind was quite a unique experience.
I order to read something more about mental illnesses, I also recommend two other books: Turtles all the way down by John Green (about OCD) and A tragic kind of wonderful by Erin Lindstrom (about bipolar disorder).
As a final note, I’d like to remark what I didn’t appreciate: I believe that sometimes Silvera has a rush to put “love and sex” in a story even where there’s no need for it. Sometimes I would prefer to find just friendship… and less “carnal desire”. I can’t tell you more about this or I would spoil some major developments.
Do you know the author? Have you already read this novel?