What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi is a hard hitting read with a unique premise

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What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi is a hard hitting read with a unique premise

This is a pretty raw and real read about a boy coming to terms with a responsibility he never wanted and a decision that will change his entire life.  Ryden has to decide if he is going to man up or run away, and readers will absolutely understand why that is a real struggle.  What you left behind is unique for its story and for its honesty.  If you like your protagonists conflicted and your situations fraught with emotion, consider adding this book to your TBR list.  This book is available on 8/4/15.

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Goodreads 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, and 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?
My Thoughts

This was a hard, honest look at a really difficult situation, and it was beautifully done.  Reality is often harsh, and the author holds nothing back with Ryden’s character.  He is, at times, resentful and selfish and, at others, optimistic and naive.  He makes decisions about his daughter’s care that others will judge as terrible, but they absolutely ring true for someone in his situation.  Adults struggle with these responsibilities, so it is reasonable that a high school senior would, too.  While I did want to turn away when Ryden’s world got overwhelming, the message was absolutely worth the journey.  The book is nicely paced to keep the momentum in the story going.  The characters were well developed and as real as any I’ve seen.  Primary caregiver teen dads are pretty rare in the YA book world, and What You Left Behind fills that gap nicely.  This book will appeal to readers of both genders, especially fans of John Green and Ned Vizzini.  It also will probably get you Nick Sparks a little excited, too – cancer.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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