People are complicated puzzles, always trying to piece together a complete picture, but sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we’re left unfinished. Sometimes that’s for the best. Some pieces can’t be forced into a puzzle, or at least they shouldn’t be, because they won’t make sense.
–Adam Silvera, History is all you left me
Title: History is all you left me
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Length: 320 pages
Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆
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.
TW: Death, grief, suicidal thoughts, mental illness
This book is told on dual POVs, one in present time and the other in the past. One starts with the funeral and the other starts when Griffin and Theo’s relationship begins. This makes for a particular reading experience where you are crying on one chapter and laughing at the next, leaving you happily exhausted. It’s a love story and a story about learning to say goodbye.
It’s about learning to grieve and learning that, no matter how much you are suffering, life has to go on. It’s about coming to term with the finality of things. When you read you go through all stages of grief along Griffin and he isn’t ok by the end of it, but he is ready to go on.
I won’t get into any spoilers but Griffin, our protagonist and narrator, has OCD and there’s a moment where he’s suicidal. The mentally ill rep is so well done, there’s a fear of being different and the well-meaning, if misguided, “you aren’t ill you are just different”.Griffin’s parents suggest that he goes to therapy and it’s presented as an obvious choice, he needs help and there’s nothing wrong in seeking it.
Hi there Unreliable Narrator..- I can’t lie, I actually loved how unreliable Griffin was, he felt everything too much and it translated into his voice when recounting past experiences and seeing others’ behaviours.Also, revenge sex isn’t actually gonna make you feel better, you should know that by the fifth time.
As I read I was like Why are you like this?? but he is just a very realistic teenager, with stupid priorities and plans that don’t make sense. Seeing his growth at the end of the novel was beautiful
We can look at him from two different points, either he was an oblivious kid who didn’t realise how his actions would affect those who love him or he was too self-centered to realise anything and just wanted to have everything. Personally I lean more to the first but as we say in Argentina: There isn’t a worst blind that the one who doesn’t want to see. He was safe in the idea that Griffin would wait for him but he was also single and met a cute boy. If he actually loved Griffin then a long distance relationship wouldn’t have been that much of a problem…
My poor boy doesn’t know how to cope and I’m sad for him, he was just caught in a bad situation and he reacted badly. Both him and Griffin clinged to each other in the hope of finding some reminder of Theo, what they found was guilt and so, they couldn’t let go. He couldn’t heal in New York or bringing Griffin to California. He needed to accept what he did and look into himself instead of to other people.
He was a good friend who tried to be there for everyone and got fucked over
literally. I feel like he’s the one who understood Theo the most, since he wasn’t in love with him but still loved him. It’s sad that he couldn’t grieve with his other best friend because of shit that happened before Theo died, I think he would have been plagued with guilt and could have used a shoulder to lean on.
Anika and Veronika
I know that Veronika was right in getting upset, since Jackson didn’t bother to call them for a while, and both of them felt ignored. Still, Jackson only knew that she had broken up with her boyfriend, and didn’t call, while they both knew his boyfriend died and didn’t bother to call. I’m sorry but I still think Jackson could use some new friends.
Theo’s little sister
She may not have been as important as other characters but I feel like there’s one quote, referred to her that perfectly sums up what happens to kids who have to face untimely death:
Losing you is going to be her express ticket to adulthood, I bet.
I think I understand why Adam Silvera writes these books. Because we need them
As much as we need to believe in happy endings we also need to grieve, to cry and let ourselves feel sad. Today’s society demands of us that we are always fine, always functioning always distracted enough that we keep going. We aren’t taught how to deal with death.
Griffin tries to “keep Theo alive” talking to him, which I feel is a little wink to mexican culture, where, by remembering our dead loved one, we can keep them in a better place.
Jackson and Griffin’s reactions were highly immature and unhealthy but at the same time they were realistic and understandable for two boys dealing with the one they loved unexpectedly dying.
Let’s talk mental illness and how neurotypical people deal with Griffin. Was Theo being an asshole when he told him his OCD was just a quirk? No, he was genuinely trying to help. He thought that was the best way of dealing with it. Maybe Griffin should have brought up his concerns for his mental health with his parents instead, who seem to be quite in favor of treatment. But we can’t forget that these two are teenagers and so don’t know how to deal with everything just yet.
I loved the History chapters where we could see how happy they all had been, even when Theo left and Griffin missed him there wasn’t the deep sadness that ruled the Today chapters. It was a reprieve for the reader and the perfect way to give us all the back story we needed.
Those last chapters where we got the day when Theo died along with a healing Griffin were the perfect close. As you are reading you may not see it but the healing that happens little by little is clear as day then. It’s a statement to the truth of it takes time, because Griffin may not be perfect Today but he is way better than how he was.
The Promise. I’m going to get real with this.. In my family, death has always been present. My mother lost both her older and younger brother on the year I was born. I know the damage an early death leaves behind and the possibility of it striking at any given time. My mom says you never know if you’re going to see that person again. Make sure your lasts words are always good. And so, it’d never occur to me to promise I’m not going to die. Yet, I see this is not a reality for most people. Most young people feel invincible and see no problem in promising to live forever. They don’t see how a promise like that can hurt a person when you happen to break it.
The bi-phobia was sadly expected. I don’t think that this is the author’s thoughts but rather how people usually react to bisexuals. The comments and mistrust is a reality that Adam wanted to portray even if it was an uncomfortable one.
I don’t know if this is because I’m asexual or I just never fell in love like this but… was “we can’t have sex or touch” really enough of an excuse to fall out of love/fall in love with someone else?? Theo says he still loves Griffin but he gets with Jackson and Griffin accepts that as a natural conclusion??? Phone sex and Skype sex exist. If you really can forget the person you love just because they are miles away then your love wasn’t all that.
Griffin’s coping mechanism are shit, and he knows it. Also, Jackson was an enabler who also had fucked up coping mechanisms.
Griffin thinks he may be falling for Wade just before Theo’s death but then, for the whole book, he ghosts him. He knows Wade was Theo’s oldest friend and he was always there for both of them but Griffin couldn’t bother to give him a minute.
There’s quite a lot of them because Adam Silvera speaks right to my soul:
telling the truth can bring this kind of happiness, the kind that opens infinite alternate universes.
I need a condom for my mouth.
“I’m ready,” I lie. I’m hungry, I’m drained, I’m over it all, and I’m not ready. But there’s a clock on this thing. The service is today. The burial is tomorrow. I don’t know what comes after that.
I’m drowning without trying to surface
I just want to know when it’ll be possible to laugh again. And when it’ll be okay.
But maybe a first kiss without a big moment will speak for itself. Maybe it says, “Hey, I like you when you’re not doing anything special.”
he broke me in a way everyone should be lucky to be cracked open at least once.
Theo and I getting dressed together is a kind of quiet miracle, what people don’t even know to dream about until it happens in real time.
It will always be too soon. Time doesn’t heal all wounds.
I guess Chloe trusts Mickey Mouse on pot
This is making me feel a way.
I’m learning there should be some times I put you to rest for a little bit instead of obsessing about you every day. Or I’m trying.
people reveal different parts of themselves to different people.
People need people. That’s that.
History remains with the people who will appreciate it most.