I had seen this book buzzing around on Twitter constantly over the past month, and rightly so; it’s bloody excellent. It’s been a good two weeks since I finished History is All You Left Me, and I’m still thinking about it.
Adam Silvera’s writing is beautiful and intricately clever allowing us to delve head first into each character so that you get a real feel for them. He carefully constructs the plot around Griffin; we meet him as his ex-boyfriend Theo, has just died in a drowning accident (no spoilers, this is on the blurb).
It was really interesting to see how Silvera allowed different characters to experience grief in different ways. Theo’s parents are seen to resort to old habits and distance themselves from one another. In comparison, the way in which Griffin copes is so immediate and blunt, that it took me by surprise. The emotions portrayed are so raw and real. I could definitely see myself in his situation and relate to my own experiences of how I have dealt with grief in the past:
“The sound of the TV brings me some comfort, some familiarity. I haven’t touched it since you died because people shouldn’t be watching TV when the person they love is dead.”
Griffin uses second person to talk to Theo and I think this the best way I have ever seen this done because it actually makes sense in the context. A lot of the time the use of it seems unnecessary and jars the writing, not in a good way. However, here it’s done so cleverly and allows us to see deep into Griffin’s thoughts as he speaks to Theo.
“What you don’t understand, Theo, is silence is sometimes better than someone speaking before they’re ready. That is how lies slip out”
There is one chapter in particular, near the end so no spoilers, but perspective is used really well. As ~things~ develop, the perspective that Griffin uses changes from second to first person. This switch is sudden, yet subtle to people who may not love grammar as much as I do. However, it had such an impact. Suddenly, the dialogue felt cold, distant, and less connected, matching Griffin’s emotions.
Throughout the book, Griffin’s experiences with OCD worsens as he deals with the loss of Theo. This was really interesting to see being portrayed and de-stigmatised by Silvera. I think it’s important that it’s being represented as the mental illness it is, and not glorified into something else.
It was also refreshing to read an LGBTQ story in which their sexual identity is not the solitary thing that defines each character. Whilst I think these coming-of-age stories are definitely important to represent in books, it’s nice to see it just being part of the characters. It is still significantly focused on because it’s part of the story, but in a natural way, not in a “look here are some gay characters” way. I don’t know if I’m contradicting myself, all I know is that it just felt like a very natural and real representation and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I highly recommend you all go and pick it up asap. For me, I’ll be picking up his newest book They Both Die at The End, and if it’s as good as this one, then I can’t bloody wait.