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Monday, July 6, 2015

ARC REVIEW: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

What You Left Behind 
by Jessica Verdi 
Released Date: August 4th 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 320
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Author's Links: Goodreads, Website, Twitter, Facebook
View/Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

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?
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)

My Review:

What You Left Behind is an emotional coming-of-age story about second chances at love and new beginnings. 

Right from the very beginning I was impressed with just how detail the book is, that I found myself feeling for Ryden as he struggled to come to terms with his new life and the choices that he has to make now that things are different. When the book starts, we immediately meet the main character, Ryden, a seventeen-year-old high school senior student who has been struggling to keep up with everything that has been going on in his life. After the dead of his pregnant girlfriend, Megan, he now is a single father of a seven-month old baby. Now with things changing around him, he is left to wonder how he is going to be a good dad to Hope and how could he have gotten Megan pregnant in the first place. With these questions in mind, Ryden is determined to seek answers to fully move on with his life.

What he wasn't expecting to find were things that could potentially damage how he once saw Megan and everyone else around him. When Ryden finds out about the journals that Megan had left before she died, he is determined to find them, but that soon proves to be difficult. He returns to his job at the supermarket where he could be himself and not just Hope's dad. Everything starts to change again when he meets Joni, an outgoing and funny co-worker that makes him feel his old self again. The more time they spend together, the more he starts to miss her presence. While his life back at home is a mess, he feels that Joni might just be what he needs now more than ever. The only problem is that he doesn't want to tell her about Hope or Megan, and that could end up hurting him in the end. 

With his soccer scholarship in jeopardy, Ryden has to find the balance between taking care of his daughter while he is at school/soccer practice and his relationship with Joni. Yet along the way, his finds out that those that truly care for him will be there, and some end up helping him take care of Hope. It all seemed to working out for him for a little while, but that all soon comes crushing down when he finds out more about the journals and Megan's betrayal. The lies that she told him to keep him start to resurface and they all finally start to make sense. Now Ryden has to decide what to do with this new found information and what could mean for his relationship with Joni.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it was captivating and emotional. The writing made the emotions of the characters stand out and that really helped me understand their decisions and what they were going through throughout the book. Ryden is your typical high school student, he likes the social events rather than actual classes, but then again he is a teenager and he loves his sports. He enjoys playing soccer, and he hopes to one day go to UCLA and play for the university. But the minute he saw Megan, truly saw her, he was fascinated with her and her ability to make things better for him. He started to fall in love with her right away, but news of her cancer diagnosis really took its toll on him. Now as a single dad he has to learn how to change diapers and put a baby to sleep at night, it's not something he imagined himself doing at seventeen. Now that being said, he is a truly amazing father and soccer player. When he discovers that Megan had probably left him journals that would help him navigate towards fatherhood, he starts to find out things that put everything into a new perspective and he needs to come to terms with his new fate/life. 

Throughout the book we do meet new characters that add a little bit of personality to the book, a new light. Then comes Joni, Ryden's love interest in the book, she is outgoing, funny, and daring. She could be Megan's total opposite, that could be the reason why Ryden likes her so much, they clicked right away. Their chemistry grows as they spend more time together, and we also get to learn more about her life and the secrets that she had never told anyone before.

Overall, the book was a total success. I would say that it could have been better had the author included more scenes between Joni and Hope. At the beginning I really liked Joni as a character, but towards the end the things that she says to Ryden made me not really like her as much. Since it is Ryden's journey that we read about in the book, the male perspective is refreshing and relatable. Another aspect of the story that I liked were the flashbacks that we get throughout the book, and the letters. It was a great format to read about what happened when Ryden and Megan met. In essence, if you're looking for a great coming-of-age story with funny scenes and a great male POV, then I would highly suggest checking this out. :)

***ARC provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.***

My Rating: 4.5/5

Thanks for stopping by! :)


Zareena said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow, this sounds like a seriously emotional book but it sounds really good too :) I'm glad you enjoyed it and think I'll have to check it out. Great review!

Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf

Jackie said... Best Blogger Tips


It really was. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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