Review: History Is All You Left Me

history-is-all-you-left-meHistory is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Published by: Soho Press

Date of Publication: January 17th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley (Edelweiss)

Rating:★★★★★ ALL The Stars In The Galaxy!

 

*I’d like to thank Soho Press & Adam Silvera for the eGalley of History Is All You Left Me via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

goodreads-synopsis-2

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.

plot-banner

History Is All You Left Me starts off with the main protagonist Griffin getting ready to attend his ex-boyfriend Theo’s funeral. Griffin has not come to fully accept the tragedy that is Theo’s death and so he begins to tell us his tale in chapters that alternate between  “History” and “Today”

Griffin and Theo were best friends since childhood before their relationship turned romantic. Griffin, Theo, and Wade were basically the modern day Three Musketeers who did everything together and their parents all knew each other. In “History” we get introduced to these three friends who enjoy playing video games, Harry Potter, reading, putting together huge puzzles, and inventing zombie apocalypse stories. During one of their usual excursions to Brooklyn on the L train (my borough whoop whoop!), Griffin & Theo’s relationship turns into something more than just friends. I loved the build-up to this moment and the chemistry between them was fully felt on my end. Wade expresses a bit of apprehension at the possible change in friendship dynamics now that he would be the odd man out but they promise to never put him in an awkward position. We get to see their friendship continue and get stronger. Things begin to change when Theo is advised by his school counselor to apply for Harvard early. Theo decides to skip on Harvard but does decide to apply to his top college of choice in Los Angeles which would mean leaving Griffin behind in New York. Griffin decides to be fully supportive even when the mere thought of not seeing Theo on the daily was suffocating and anxiety inducing. They decide to make the best of it just in case he does get accepted. I thought we were going to see them experience a long distance relationship but for some reason, I was glad that it wasn’t the case here. Griffin is a character who suffers from OCD and the representation here is one that I am beyond satisfied with, being that I myself have mild OCD. Griffin knows himself well and through plenty of self reflection he just knew that long distance & all of it’s pitfalls isn’t something he would be able to manage. Though they decide to maintain their friendship through Skype calls, handwritten letters and care packages, long distance eventually does take its toll. Theo starts to date Jackson who Griffin believes to be his real life clone and things take a turn for the awkward. Its during this time that Griffins OCD compulsions begin to take him down a path of self destruction…

In the “Today” chapters Griffin who hasn’t fully accepted Theo’s death, talks to him as if he were still alive and walks him through all of his emotions before and after their break-up. The things that he did while Theo was away at college and the things he did after learning of his death. History Is All You Left Me is a character driven book and one of the best ones i’ve read at that. Griffins mind isn’t one that can be forced to accept what he is not ready to accept. We get to see his thought process during his journey to acceptance and it’s not a pretty one but it is a more realistic one than if he were to have just completely moved on after loving Theo for so long. The “Today” chapters also see Griff come to terms with his secrets, ones that he can no longer confess to now that Theo is gone but nonetheless will bring to light since he believes Theo is listening & seeing all that he does.

characters-banner

I couldn’t get enough of Griffin, Theo, and Wade which is probably why I finished this book in two days. Their friendship is pretty awesome and nerdy with plenty of pop culture references. The guys love leaving Manhattan and venturing into hipster Brooklyn or meet up at one of their homes after school. It was through these after school hangouts that we get introduced to Griffin & Theo’s parents who i’m just going to go ahead and say it…2nd fave set of parentals only to be beat by Molly & Arthur Weasley! They’re simply amazingly supportive, understanding, loving and welcoming human beings that I wish every young adult had in their lives. I also enjoyed Griffin & Theo when they were dating because of how positive this relationship was portrayed. Griffin & Theo truly loved each other, looked out for one another, and supported each other. Theo fully accepted Griffin’s compulsions and never once made him feel crazy. He learned all of Griffin’s ways and was the perfect missing puzzle piece (if you’ve read HIAYLM, you’ll know what I just did there LOL). I can’t forget about Wade aka the third musketeer who is an AMAZING best friend to Theo & Griffin but overall just a really cool guy. His besties decide to date each other & besides the initial conversation, he is fully supportive of them. I love that Adam gave us a chance to get to know Wade & that he didn’t fall back in the shadows of Griffin and Theo. I even ended up liking Jackson who was Theo’s new boyfriend in L.A. and I seriously didn’t want to but it happened *shrugs shoulders* maybe Griffin was right & Jackson really is his clone…

writing-final-thoughts-banner-2

After reading More Happy Than Not last year, I knew that Adam Silvera would be an author to follow throughout his writing career. The emotions he was able to stir in me, made him stand out from any of the Young Adult or Adult Fiction I have read all together. I am very thankful to have received a eGalley of History Is All You Left Me, as a matter of fact I teared up the night that I received the e-mail. I knew that I was going to be reading an impactful book by a person who has now become one of my top 5 favorite authors. There is seriously nothing like experiencing one of Adams books. His characters grow within the pages while going through it & taking you along for the ride. The relationships he gifts you remain with you long after you’ve read the last sentence. History Is All You Left Me wasn’t any different. I lost track of the times that I smiled & wiped away my tears. It was heart wrenching and painful to see Griff lose his favorite person and yet this was more than a story about grief & loss. This is a story about self reflection, healing, acceptance, coping mechanisms, friendships, human error, love in all its forms. Adam gave us Griffin who struggles with OCD which was one of the things that interested me the most. He showed us the internal tug of war that is having OCD & how it can impose limitations. The scenes where we get Griff’s inner monologue were spot on accurate. During times of high stress, I myself, internally will go back & forth with my compulsions. At times it feels like you can’t move on until it is right, with Griffin it was even #’s at all times with the exception of the numbers one and seven or any number ending in seven. I happen to have the same compulsion of even numbers, but my OCD is more on the mild side than Griff’s. Besides the accurate portrayal of OCD, Adam also gave us healthy relationships on all fronts including the parentals in his book. The LGBTQ and POC (people of color) representation in Adams books, have made him one of my auto-buy authors. If you’re looking for a book that will touch your soul and make you self-reflect, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for your next diverse read with all around positive representation, this is the book for you. I was able to see myself in this book & since that is rare, I appreciate Adam Silvera’s writing and can’t wait to give this book a home on my shelves on it’s birthday 😉

“History remains with the people who will appreciate it most”- History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (Review)

img_2014-1

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Published by: Flatiron Books

Date of Publication: September 22nd 2015

Genres: Autobiography/Personal Memoirs

Pages: 329

Format: Audiobook (I own via Audible)

Trigger Warning: Self harm

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

 

Disclaimer (LOL): I’d like to start off by saying that before listening to this audiobook I had no idea who Jenny Lawson was. Odd really because I love me some funny ladies; Mindy Khaling (My Goddess), Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Amy Schumer to name a few. I prefer & have, listened to some of these comedienne’s personal memoirs on Audible and found that I enjoy them more than if I was reading the book in physical format. This is most likely because these ladies have narrated their own books & done an amazing job at it.

 

Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy came at the right time honestly. I had walked past the crazy happy looking raccoon on the cover in Barnes & Noble one too many times. It wasn’t until I read two rave reviews from Amanda @ Cover2Covermom whose reviews are always on point & Donna @Chocolatenwaffles’Blog who i’ve recently started following & has an amazing blog, that I knew I had to give this one a go. After all, I had already used an Audible credit on it a few months back smh (zero self control lol) & I was a bit down and nervous about my 5 year old starting Kindergarten in a big school. In this book Jenny Lawson talks & often times hilariously rambles on about the every day things that run through her head while struggling with mental Illness. Jenny lists some of the mental disorders she has been diagnosed with such as Agoraphobia, depression, & anxiety to name a few. She also has a fascination, if not mild obsession (lol) with taxidermy and the raccoon on the cover was actually roadkill that she affectionately named Rory & took in her home. This book is a collection of sorts, stories, and thoughts that Lawson narrates all the while embracing her peculiarities, irrational behaviors, and her “crazy”. A label that she’s aware many view as incorrect & offensive but she feels comfortable with. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments as well as some dark moments. Lawson takes us into her mind & her most intimate thoughts she lays bare. As a person who struggles with social anxiety, mild OCD, and at times mild depression…I found comfort in those hours I spent listening to Jenny. I also found something I wasn’t expecting, understanding for the other person…the spouse. Jenny & her husband Victor argue a whole lot, but please show  me the marriage that doesn’t! I LOVED hearing Jenny re-enact argument’s between her & Victor because they aren’t your typical topics AT ALL! filled with humor I found myself shaking my head in amazement at how good a sport Victor can be when following any of Jenny’s wild ideas. I was also left with a new understanding for my own spouse who can be very supportive when i’m not at my very best.

 

“Last month, as Victor drove me home so I could rest, I told him that sometimes I felt like his life would be easier without me. He paused a moment in thought and then said, “It might be easier. But it wouldn’t be better.” 
― Jenny LawsonFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

 

Oh Victor! I seriously enjoyed his parts & feel like I’ve known them all my life. Jenny doesn’t hold back, there’s plenty of profanity to go around which I didn’t mind at all. This book is about finding happiness in the mist of all the feelings you may or may not be able to control. There’s a certain liberating feeling that comes with acceptance & listening to Jenny you get the feeling that she is comfortable in her own skin & mind and that’s empowering. She still struggles on a daily basis but she has an amazing support system & an even more amazing sense of humor for all of the bad days. Like many others with similar mental disorders, Jenny sheds light on how these disorders often times hinder her from attending social events. How even when you feel like you have everything you could possibly want & should be happy…you can still experience anxiety and/or sadness.

 

“I wish someone had told me this simple but confusing truth: Even when everything’s going your way you can still be sad. Or anxious. Or uncomfortably numb. Because you can’t always control your brain or your emotions even when things are perfect.” 
― Jenny LawsonFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

 

I am currently obsessed with all things Jenny Lawson & will be reading her other book Let’s pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir  as well as following her blog TheBloggess where I can get my dose of her dark humor & brutally unapologetic honesty while following her journey with mental illness…

jenny-lawson

 

Friday Reads aka Currently Reading

Happy Friday Readers!!! It’s been a L-O-N-G and unexpectedly emotional week for my little fam & I. Today completes Izzy’s (my 5-year-old daughter) first week & a half (lol) of Kindergarten & although my girl is usually ready to conquer the world with her larger than life old soul personality…this was a new beginning & there were some tears from the both of us. I was allowed to walk her to class the first 2 days after which I was then told that my baby was growing up & basically it was time to “cut the cord” drop off’s would be in the cafeteria…does anyone else find the cafeteria to be one scary big place? I always have. Nonetheless, off I went to work but not before I had myself one good sob during my 7-minute walk to the train station on the phone with my husband. I boarded the train & to be honest had no desire to read. By Wednesday, Izzy & I had befriended the cafeteria lady & her daughter who also attends the school. Needless to say this brought me much comfort & Izzy re-assured ME (smh) that she was NOT scared. With her assurance I boarded my train & dived back into SJM’s Empire of Storms…

Empire of Storms by Sara J. Maas is the 5th book in the Throne of Glass YA Fantasy series & one of my most highly anticipated reads for the second half of 2016! I hadn’t realized how much I had missed certain characters in this world, specifically my favorite kick butt witch Manon & her Wyvern Abraxos who would follow her to the depths of the world if need be. I think what appeals to me most about these characters is the loyalty they have to each other (excluding Celeana who at times makes questionable decisions). I am really enjoying seeing the friendship btwn Aedion & Lysandra develop as well as Lorcan & Elide. Whether these friendships develop into something more, I’m not sure yet (on pg. 400 of 693) but wouldn’t be completely surprised if they do. Yes, SJM enjoys coupling up her charcters making it a bit predictable at times but I think it’s done well. In any case, I love these books for the character development & world building. I am currently OBSESSED with the Manon chapters smh, in the beginning I really just wanted to get to those chapters alone. Thankfully 🙌🏼 the story picks up the pace fairly quickly & never stops. Can this be the best book in the series? It’s sure looking that way but I still have about 300 pgs to go & that leaves Maas plenty of time to turn my world upside down. I kid you not, I really do think she types away with an evil smirk on her face, knowing she’s going to leave us in our feels in need of our blanky’s & the nearest teddy 😂😂😂


The other book I’m reading or rather should I say listening to? Is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I had used one of my Audible credits a few months back on this one but could NOT for the life of me, get people to stop interrupting me while I listened. After reading a review for this book on Amanda’s blog Cover2CoverMom, I decided to pick it back up again. For the most part, I’d rather listen to than read comedienne’s memoirs. They narrate their own books & therefore know when a line should read as funny or not. This makes a big difference for me. Perfect example is  Mindy Khaling who I adore for the goddess that she is 🙌🏼 has written 2 books & it wasn’t until I switched to audio that I was able to enjoy her narrative. To be honest I had never heard of Jenny Lawson but the cover with the over the top excited raccoon made me smile every time I walked by it in B&N. After reading the synopsis & seeing that Jenny suffers from mental illness and that this was a collection of stories infused with her humor…I was intrigued. Now, I’ve heard great & not so great things about this book. Primarily, people taking offense to her use of humor when it comes to the topic of her mental illness or labeling herself. As a person who deals with anxiety, mild OCD, and others I don’t need to list…my sarcasm/dark humor IS my coping mechanism. It’s the blanket that provides comfort when faced with the alternative which is to let it overcome & that’s just not the choice that I’ve made. I’m now following Jenny on her blog The Blogess & I’m listening to Furiously Happy. Jenny’s husband Victor reminds me a bit of my husband. She does not shy away from listing their differences & the less than “normal” but still very humorous arguments they have because of her mental disorders. Her interactions with her pets (Ferris Mewler is a fave of mine) including Rory the raccoon who is deceased but has been brought back through her friend the taxidermist, provide plenty of entertaining moments. Overall, what I’m finding the most enjoyable are the many relatable day to day moments & thoughts she has  at home and in social situations…