Adam Silvera’s sophomore novel, History Is All You Left Me, is the story of a boy who’s heart was broken by the death of his ex-boyfriend, and he finds comfort in the most unexpected person.
If you think Silvera’s debut novel More Happy Than Not was good, then you’re about to be blown away when History Is All You Left Me hits shelves in just one week. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that will get you crying and then give you a few bits to laugh with before making you cry some more.
The story follows Griffin, whose very complicated ex-boyfriend, Theo, drowned and broke the biggest promise he ever made to him — don’t die. Grieving his loss, he finds that the only person who could possibly understand turns out to be Theo’s final boyfriend, Jackson. This is not a simple Romeo and Juliet tragedy, folks.
To better understand the concept of the novel, you’ll need to know more about Griffin. He’s an eighteen-year-old kid living in New York who was in love with his best friend and ex-boyfriend, Theo, and is now mourning his loss. As if grieving wasn’t hard enough, Griffin also has OCD, something that he struggles with often throughout the story. Then we have sixteen-year-old Griffin from 2014, who has just begun to date Theo.
Griffin and Theo are separated at first by Santa Monica College, where Theo gets accepted for early admission. Not wanting to do the long-distance thing, they break up, but to Griffin’s surprise Theo is able to move on a few months later with Jackson. Theo and Jackson become closer and Griffin is forced to accept this because he knows Theo is happy, but then Theo drowns. Jackson makes it to New York for his funeral where he has to face Griffin and Theo’s past. And the rest, well — shit happens.
The novel alternates which Griffin we’re hearing from. It begins with the day Theo died and switches chapters into the day Theo and Griffin first started their relationship. We watch as Griffin and Theo’s friendship blooms into a full-blown romance, and we weep as we see Griffin start to have to get used to a life without Theo for the second and heartbreakingly final time.
Silvera’s approach to telling this story is poignant. It’s an odd feeling when you turn the first few chapters and you have to realize the Griffin whose words you’re reading just lost Theo, when only moments ago you were reading his adorable excitement at the possibilities of new romance. We go back and forth between 2014, 2015 and 2016 and each time we do, the characters change and grow and give us a whole new view of the story.
Within just a few pages I found myself enthralled in Griffin’s story, wanting to know more about how he and Theo’s relationship started, reading as they grew and became a cute couple but then breaking up. At the same time I’m also watching as Griffin gets used to the fact that there was another boy that Theo loved, reading as his jealousy and hatred slowly melts away as he realizes Jackson is in the same spot he is.
And as someone who doesn’t suffer from OCD it’s been insightful to see how Theo’s impulses control him and how often they appear in his thoughts. This novel does more than just bring light to the LGBTQ community, it helps bring mental health awareness into a world that desperately needs it.
If History Is All You Left Me isn’t already on your reading list then you need to add it right now. You won’t regret it.