Friday, August 14, 2015

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi + Make it a Gift


What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: 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. 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?


Review: When I was younger, I used to just browse the library and pick up books that sounded good. I remember coming across one about a teen father and I loved that it existed, because any books about teen pregnancy for teens tend to focus on the mom and the dad is usually a deadbeat who won't admit the kid is even his child. That's not at all what Verdi did in What You Left Behind.

Ryden and Meg were a teenage romance. They loved each other, they had sex. They probably wouldn't have lasted into college, but Med had cancer and when she got pregnant, she gave up on chemo to have the baby. Ryden blames himself, even after Meg has their daughter Hope and has passed on. He can't move forward in life, surrounded by his grief and guilt and unsure about what will happen after he graduates high school.

I really liked Ryden's friendship with Joni; it gave him a chance to feel like a regular teenage boy again. At the same time, he's keeping Hope and Meg from her and I knew that it would all come out and eventually affect how Joni saw him. Whether that was good or bad, I had a bit of a wait. Another great secondary character was actually Ryden's mom. This was not a case of absent parent in YA novel. While Meg's parents are not happy with Ryden and don't want to be in Hope's life, Ryden's mom does everything she can for her son and granddaughter. It was really great to see!

What You Left Behind is sad and emotional, but it's also full of new hope (pun intended) and joy.

Make it a Gift:


If you decide to gift this novel to someone, I suggest adding Season One of the TV show Raising Hope. Hope is the baby - which is what initially made me think of this show - but it's also about a young father raising the baby with only his parents help.

13 comments:

Kindlemom said...

I've seen so many great reviews for this one! So glad you really enjoyed it as well. I know this will end up being a must read for me!

Melliane said...

I don't think I knew about this one but it sounds fun to read. I'm curious. thanks!

Blogoratti said...

Seems like a fine read, thanks for sharing!

Erika Sorocco said...

The premise of the story sounds beautiful and heartwarming, but not my cup of tea. I'll pass on this one.

xx

Grace @ RebelMommyBookBlog said...

I am glad you enjoyed this one! I thought it was great as well. I loved Ryden's mom and Joni as well. Great review!

Claudia Arroyo said...

This does sound like prose full of sentimental value, I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Oh and I absolutely loved the television series Raising Hope too!

Medeia Sharif said...

This looks good. The next time I log into NetGalley, I'll see if I can get this.

Midnight Cowgirl said...

This sounds like such an emotional read, but the premise intrigues me. Teenage dads are not easy to find in novels.

Beth said...

I've read a few reviews for this, but for some reason I keep thinking it's not for me. I guess the whole pregnancy/single dad/cancer story line just seems too dramatic? I'm scared that these huge issues won't be dealt with sensitively enough for my tastes... but then, your review makes it sound like that's not a problem, so maybe I WILL try it... we'll see!
thank you for the recommendation - it's great to see a novel all about a teenage dad!
Beth x
www.thequietpeople.com

Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger said...

I have the ARC sitting around collecting dust. I need to get to it. Yes, it's cool this one focuses on the dad, I've only read teen mom books :D

Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger

fullybookedreviews.com said...

I've seen some great reviews for this one, though I have yet to read it. It's fantastic to have the perspective of a teen dad included in the genre, instead of always showing it from the teen mom's viewpoint.

Julia Anne said...

I've been hearing such awesome feedback on this one, and your review finally convinced me to get reading. I saw a copy at B&N just yesterday but I didn't end up buying it. Totally regretting that decision now.

Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

I so loved this one, mainly because it was reversed, we usually get stories of teenage mothers instead of fathers. Ryden made me want to slap him at times, but it is realistic, and I just loved how supporting his mother was.