Book Thoughts: History Is All You Left Me

Thu, 2017/09/14
Joshua Ferm

Sitting at 4.2 stars on Goodreads at the time of writing is Adam Silvera’s "History Is All You Left Me," and it is quickly becoming a well-known book in the LGBTQ+ community, for good reason. The book portrays the love and loss of main character Griffin and his (ex)boyfriend Theo. Taking place in two different time periods (2014 and 2016), the book investigates the history of Griffin and Theo’s relationship (2014) and the aftermath of Theo’s death (2016). A very interesting concept is being laid out for the reader with these interesting plot devices. Finally, there is a book for teens and young adults addressing the LGBTQ+ community that is both realistic and conveys a true relationship experience… Or does it? In fact, as I got further into the book I found myself caring less and less about the characters on the page and more about the number of pages I had left.

This book is filled with clichés that make it seem worthwhile, until they all combined and I felt as if I was reading a fan fiction of Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Neville Longbottom. Not only is death romanticized in this book, but so is having mental disorders, as we see Griffin struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression, but what he calls his “disorders” and the actual facts of these real disorders do not line up and remain inconsistent throughout the book. One minute Griffin is trying to tell another character he is “two songs away,” when he realizes that even-numbered-song phrase doesn’t make sense to anyone but Theo, and so he chooses instead to write the five-worded sentence, “I’m like six minutes away.” One would think Griffin, constantly thinking in even numbers, would take care to fix the sentence.

As for the depression aspect, Griffin doesn’t handle things too well. Anyone losing the love of his or her life wouldn’t exactly be alright, but Griffin decides to fly to California with Theo’s boyfriend before he died, Jackson. While there, Griffin gets angered that Theo didn’t stay loyal to their “wait until after college to date again” plan, and he does the unthinkable. No, he doesn’t kill Jackson; he decides to have sex with him. Yes, with the boyfriend of his deceased ex-boyfriend. He then blames Jackson for making him impulsively feel this way and punches him as he flies back to New York. It is at this point that Griffin stops by the third-wheel in his and Theo’s relationship, their good friend Wade. Just when you thought the pity sex was over, Griffin and Wade have more, and of course Griffin blames Wade.

This entire book is just filled with terrible coping mechanisms and should not at all be given to a young audience to read. The only part of the book I genuinely liked was the last sentence: “But this universe is the only one that matters, and I have one last question for you: I didn’t get our history wrong, did I?” It was at this point I for once felt bad for Griffin. The entire time he was playing the victim of Theo’s death, and here he shows a bit of concern for Theo. Overall, I would not recommend this book. The morals, clichés, and romanticizations of death and humanity are all beyond the realm of the logical, and it doesn’t teach anything to the teenagers reading it.