History is All You Left Me — Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

TITLE: History is All You Left Me
AUTHOR: Adam Silvera
RELEASED: January 17th, 2017; Soho Teen
GENRE: Contemporary
AGE RANGE: YA

SYNOPSIS: 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.

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“I’m sorry, but please don’t be mad at me for reliving all of it. History is all you left me.”

Oh, where to start with this one. I have a lot of feelings about this book, and I guess I’ll just go ahead and get this out of the way: despite the fact that I still gave it a decent rating, I’m tremendously disappointed, because I thought for sure that this would be a 5-star read for me. I adored Adam’s most recent release, They Both Die at the End, to the degree that I put him on my auto-buy list immediately. I’d heard such good things about History that I went into it fully convinced it would be just as good, but that wasn’t entirely the case.

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“I was in love and love died and the pain you’ve left isn’t pain I can see myself having the strength to face again.”

First of all, Adam’s writing is not to blame here. I think he’s a magnificent storyteller; his voice is powerful and relentless, his books are filled to the brim with lovable quotes and moments that you just have to stop and soak in for a moment, and his plots are devastating, haunting, and downright beautiful. The story was not the problem. Griffin was.

“History remains with the people who will appreciate it most.”

Griffin, in theory, should’ve been a great character; he’s grieving and heartsick (we stan an angsty protagonist in this house), he’s a Potter fanatic, he’s a little cinnamon roll, and he offers a portrayal of OCD that, while at times incredibly repetitive, is brutally honest and takes the representation to a degree of accuracy (for some people with OCD—not all, obviously) that most authors aren’t willing to tackle.

“I’ll never understand how time can make a moment feel as close as yesterday and as far as years.”

Unfortunately, all of the benefits to his character are overshadowed by how tremendously small his worldview is. Despite the fact that so many other people in his life are grieving alongside him, or perhaps even have reason to grieve more than Griffin does, he can’t possibly fathom the idea of anyone being half as broken as he is, and so he causes constant pain to the people around him. Perhaps this was intentional on Adam’s part, as a way to offer a particularly flawed protagonist, but it was just hard to stomach at times.

“History is nothing. It can be recycled or thrown away completely. It isn’t this sacred treasure chest I mistook it to be. We were something, but history isn’t enough to keep something alive forever.”

Throughout the story, as we alternate timelines between the past and present, it’s evident that we’re slowly building up to a devastating confession of Griffin’s, but by the time it hits, he’d become so unlikable for me that it didn’t even affect me emotionally. I felt like I had missed something huge.

I heard so many people say that this story crushed them entirely, that when I closed the cover with a dry eye—me, someone who cries over those Budweiser commercials with the dogs and the horses?—I knew something hadn’t clicked right. Thus, here we are, with a depressing rating that’s far lower than I thought I would ever give an Adam Silvera book, and if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here, moping.

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

27 thoughts on “History is All You Left Me — Adam Silvera

  1. Aw I’m sorry you didn’t love this one as much as me. We seem to be opposite in that I loved history but didn’t quite connect with the characters in TBDATE. I certainly understand your issues with Griffin but I think for me those are all just flaws that make me love him more. Griffin feels more real to me than a lot of characters because of his flaws. He is clearly not always the best person, and I think that’s what Silvera was going for. (Of course, I don’t mean to delegitimize your opinion lol, I can totally understand how this makes him not the most likable character)

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    1. That’s too funny, Elise – when I was writing this review, I was thinking that it seems to me like people who loved TBDATE like this one less, and vice versa, so it makes sense to me that you enjoyed this one more! He definitely does feel “real” due to his flaws, you’re right about that. ♥ And no worries haha, I know what you meant! I love hearing your take on it!

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  2. I love seeing some varying insight on this for once. I have yet to tackle Silvera *I know head hangs in shame* but this is one at the top of my list. Do you think maybe the issues with Griffin were an attempt to demonstrate how all-consuming grief can be for some? I am very curious to see what my experience will be compared to yours. I just love your reviews so much. They are so easy to read and take from ❤

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    1. That’s actually a really good point, Danielle! That could definitely be it. I feel like Adam Silvera doesn’t do anything unintentionally, so Griffin’s character being so flawed was probably very pointed – I think it just fell short for me, sadly, but I hope it won’t for you! And thank you so much, you are so kind to me ❤

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  3. I’ve only read More Happy Than Not, and while I was impressed, it wasn’t quite a fav. This one is next on my list – I’m interested to see how my thoughts compare. Thanks for the honest review!

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  4. It’s too bad you didn’t like this one as much as you expected! I read it last year and I loved it, but it was also my first Adam Silvera book ever. I’m definitely interested in reading more of his.

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  5. I’m with you on this one. I really appreciate Silvera writing these flawed, sometimes-unlikeable teenagers, but I couldn’t get over the selfishness of Griffin’s character. I guess that’s not really a criticism of the author, and more of a personal taste thing. Lovely review. ❤

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  6. Great review!

    While I have some of Silvera’s books on my TBR mountain, I’ve not excavated them yet 😅

    This one interests me because I have OCD, compounded by being an extreme introvert. Basically, I’m a cranky old cat. 😂

    The OCD used to be much worse. I was a bad checker. Two steps from the door and I’d have to turn and make sure it was locked. Repeat X 10+…. Ugh. While the logical brain is going *It’s fine! We just checked it!*

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    1. Thank you, friend! Bahaha, I smiled at “a cranky old cat” – I love that. But I feel you on being a checker. That was something I struggled with a LOT in my teens and early twenties. I’m not sure where or why, but somewhere along the lines, I noticed it wasn’t as bad, though I still have high anxiety days where it worsens and I catch myself leaving the grocery store to go double-check the car doors, and stuff like that. I am still extremely particular about checking the door a few times before going to bed. My OCD mostly manifests more in patterns, though.

      My fiance has OCD as well, and his is the counting-obsessive type, where he has to do things in multiples of 4s. It’s interesting how saying these things out loud can make it sound like a big part of life, but I think we just get so used to them that it becomes part of our routines, right? And that was something I liked about Griffin’s OCD rep – it’s very much just a part of his routine and his family learns how to deal with it and support him.

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      1. You know… I think it was about my mid-twenties that it started tapering down for me too. But yeah, there are still days when it acts up… And I walk back and forth down the porch, checking the front door. :/

        That’s very true. It’s just part of life now. I don’t really think about it much except a slight annoyance when it’s acting up and I’m running late! Then is not the time to check the lock 800 times…

        I find it fascinating how it can manifest in so many ways. And thankful for most OCD people, we only get one, or maybe two… I used to work with a lady who also had OCD, but hers was patterns. We’d playfully mess with each other. Heaven help if someone else tried though. It makes a difference that we both suffered. We understood what the other was actually going through, and we understood when teasing wasn’t a good idea. When we’d get close to lines. I think it made both of us feel not alone and weird.

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      2. Yesss, it’s always at an inconvenient time when it acts up, right?! Like when you’re running late – so aggravating. But I love the story about your former coworker – you’re right, it really only works when both people struggle with it and can understand each other, but in those times, it can be nice to joke and sort of take the edge off of the whole situation. ♥

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  7. Ignoring the actual book right now – because we both already know how I feel about it – I am simply going to go with this:

    I honestly love how you write your reviews. They’re honest, yet not soul-cutting honest but.. in this soft way that makes forgiving you for not liking a book SO MUCH EASIER [even though there isn’t any forgiving necessary here, hah.]

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