"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND by Alison McGhee (YA)

*A finished-hardcover copy of WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND was sent to me for free by the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own. Any problems, concerns, questions, etc. please contact me via email - thebumblegirl@rocketmail.com - Thank you!

by Alison McGhee
Expected release date: May 15th, 2018
Published by: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (Simon & Schuster)
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Format read: Hardcover


Trigger warning: Suicide, rape.

After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way:
Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father's famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn't stopped. But there are some places Will can't walk by: 
The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa's house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party - a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn't left early - it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly being to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread. 


*A finished-hardcover copy of WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND was sent to me for free by the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own. 

Brilliant writing and composition - the author made me feel so many emotions that left me wanting to have a better attitude on life and the people around me.

WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND is another book that is going on my favorite shelf... 
I read this book twice in one day. TWICE! 

Written in 100 pages with only a 100 words per page, the author delivers a strong and moving story about a teen named Will who is coping with the loss of his father and the tragedies that surround him... 

Will is just a kid trying to get by. Every day he thinks of his dad, who committed suicide a few years ago. If it weren't for the note that they found, he would never have believed it. He doesn't talk to anyone about it, but he does try to cope with it with something that has always stuck with him, something that his dad used to do... we get to see Will go to work, his relationship with his boss and how Will tries to make his boss feel like he's something important, that he is being seen... we also get to see a small boy in Will's neighborhood and how Will tries to keep an eye on him and leaves the boy small trinkets thinking that it will give the little boy extra time to stay little and naive in thinking that there really is magic in the world, to have an imagination and play, before being disillusioned into the real world... and then there are the feelings that he is dealing with in regards to his best friend Playa. Playa who he hasn't been able to see yet; the guilt he feels about what happened to her and how he can help her. 

While reading this book, I couldn't help but think of how many people are out there that are in the same place as Will is. How important it is to take the time to truly see people and that it doesn't take much to give a person a little of your time - even if it is just a smile. The littlest thing can bring so much joy to a person... As a mom, all I wanted to do was reach into the book, grab Will, and give him a huge hug and a big ol' plate of freshly baked cookies and tell him that things will get better, it'll be okay. Even though he seems to have figured that out on his own, and I felt proud. I know I had nothing to do with how Will was handling things, but I was happy to see that instead of being a destructive teen, he was doing his best to bring happiness back into his life and into those he thought could use some too.

I do have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first when I was told that this book was written in such a way - 100 words within 100 pages - surely this wasn't enough to tell someone's story. But it was and is! I feel that the format definitely gave me just enough of a glimpse into Will's life - I not only got to see his day to day routine but also got to see what he was thinking and feeling. The format very much felt like journal entries, but more... I was completely invested in learning about him and emotionally engaged and being there with him while he sorted out this period in his life. 

Will's personality shines, good and bad; where there was sadness, there was also hope. And I think that many people need to read this as a way to know that no matter where you are in life, a little positivity, the tiniest bit of kindness, can truly change someone's world.


Alison McGhee writes novels, picture books, poems, and essays for all ages, including NEVER COMING BACK (October 2017) and the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. 

Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. 

She lives in Minneapolis, California, and Vermont.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this sounds like a brilliant narrative structure! Definitely going to check it out. Thank you for the rec. So glad to be able to interact with you here - miss you, friend. xo


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