You know a book is going to be good when you find yourself crying on the first page.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried reading this book. In fact, I cried a lot. I usually don’t like to consider myself a romantic, but then a book like this comes along, and I’m filled with so much pain over loves that cannot be, and I realize that yes, I do have a little bit of a romantic streak. I am going to warn you now: History Is All You Left Me is going to hurt you. It is going to make you sad, and it might make you cry, and it might make you make ugly noises in the middle of the night. It is not a book to binge read; you will read it slowly because the pain is so sharp on the page that you will cut yourself if you read too much too fast. You will finish this book, and you will cry, and you will clutch it to your chest and thank the author for writing something so beautiful and so real and thoroughly satisfying.
I genuinely don’t have anything bad to say about this book.
I love every second of it. I loved the characters, who are so broken and precious. You want to hug them all, to hold them as they cry– because they cry a lot. I loved Griffin and his love, deep and ferocious. I loved Jackson, haunting and hurting so badly that you wonder how he can survive. I loved how great Griffin and Jackson were for each other, and how together they learned to smile again. I loved how much they grew within the pages, and how they realized that love never ends, but neither does pain. They are going to love and hurt over Theo forever, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be happy again.
One of my favourite parts of this book is the absence of Theo’s voice. At first, I was wondering if it was intentional or not, but the ending (no spoilers!) reveals that it is indeed an intentional move on the author’s part, and it is brilliant. Because it’s not Theo’s story; it’s Griffin’s. (Sidenote: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tearing up right now.) And Griffin– Griffin is a protagonist I am going to love for the rest of my life. He is so endearing, and his faults and mistakes all feel so real, and maybe that’s why, in part, this novel is so difficult to read. Griffin’s feelings seep right into you, and you feel what he does, and you feel for him, too. I repeat: this is a sad book. But it’s uplifting and beautiful too, a thorough story of love and loss.
Everything I thought would happen, happened, but it happened in ways I didn’t quite expect. There are some plot twists, some turns in the narrative, that hit you with such force that you’re surprised you didn’t see it coming all along.
Another thing I loved was how, like Griffin and Jackson, you’re left with “what ifs?” and what could have been. These questions have no answers, and cannot have answers. You can dream, you can wish, but as our protagonist learns, eventually, you have to go on.
History Is All You Left Me is one of my favourite books. I cannot stop thinking about it, and I don’t really want to. It’s such a beautiful novel, and I know I’ve said that a lot, but I can’t think of anything else to say. The ending is so satisfying and perfect, and the beginning is a punch to the gut as well. Everything is so satisfying even if I’m forever going to be sad that Theo and Griffin didn’t make it, and won’t ever get the chance to become the endgame they thought they would. But the end feels real, and I am so happy with how it turns out, and how finally, all the pieces are maybe beginning to fall into place. I’m still going to be plagued with questions, as all the characters in this novel will be as well, but I think these questions are okay, as long as we don’t lose sight of what’s here right before us. This story’s pain comes from its realism, and I’m just so grateful that I had the chance to experience this story. It’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, I guarantee.
5 histories out of 5.