Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: "What You Left Behind" by Jessica Verdi

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, and 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?

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Okay I really liked this book but I am soooooo mad at Meg!!!  How can a dead character piss me off so much?!  Her actions were extremely selfish, and even though Ryland's actions (and reactions) throughout this book weren't always...appropriate, let's say, I found myself feeling so sorry for him! I would really love to say more on this, but it would give way too much away. If you end up reading this one yourself and feel the need to vent, know that you've found a sympathetic ear in me!

But, other than Meg, "What You Left Behind" was a great read for me. I think Jessica Verdi paints a pretty realistic picture of what it must be like for a teenage single father to juggle all of the responsibilities in his life: school, a job, soccer team commitments, and last but definitely not least, taking care of a newborn, including bottles, diapers, and incessant crying. Honestly, that last item there, caring for a newborn, is hard enough when there are two financially stable and mature parents to share the burden, but for a single teenage father? Damn near impossible! Ryland was soooo lucky to have his mother on board to help out, otherwise I don't think he would have been able to keep Hope in the first place. 

I loved Joni! She is one cool chicklet! The way she makes Ryland laugh and have fun was so great to see, and I feel like she was exactly what he needed in his life. I'm glad he found her, and I was cheering them on throughout the book.  Hopefully they have what it takes to make their relationship last through all the rocky stuff sure to crop up in the future.

This is my first book by Verdi, but I'm certainly keen to try other titles by her. The writing here was solid, and the pacing excellent.

My rating:

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