Jaime Reviews ~ What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

By Jessica Verdi
Published on August 4, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks
Source: Netgalley
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?

What You Left Behind...

 I honestly wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this one. I had read some positive reviews and some not so positive reviews, so I had no clue going into it what I was going to think. But the concept caught my attention, and I admit that I was curious to see how Jessica Verdi would handle this subject. I am pleased to say that she hit it out of the park! 

 I can imagine that it isn't easy for an author to nail the perspective of a character that is a different sex from themselves. Women have no idea how men truly think, and vice versa. The author did a fantastic job creating Ryden's character, and bringing his character through. His anger, and pain. The betrayal that he felt, his desire to try and be a good father to Hope, while wanting to still live the life he had planned. And most of all his heartbreak at losing Meg, and becoming dad all in one day. Jessica also got the reactions of his friends when they are around him alone, and when they see him with Hope, exactly how I would imagine it would be. 

 Ryden meeting Joni was the best thing that could have happened to him. He definitely didn't do the right thing by her at first, but they truly were good for each other. Joni is silly and funny and definitely weird and eccentric. She is not afraid to stand up for herself, and lay down rules. They are total opposites, but it worked in their favor. Ryden struggles with his growing feelings for her, and worries about how Meg's sister and best bud will feel about a new girl. (Turns out, half and half. Both AWESOME characters by the way). Their romance was sweet and cute, and incredibly realistic. It was one of my favorite parts of the story.

 The ending of What You Left Behind was heartbreaking and beautiful and perfect. Ryden grows exponentially by the end. He finally realizes that life is different now. He finally becomes dad to Hope, not just a father. Finally learning everything that happened before Meg died was gut-wrenching, but made the story what it was. Jessica Verdi knows how to write a book. She knows how to coax a character to life, she knows how to pace a story, and she knows how to pull you in to a plot, hook line and sinker. I am a huge fan and turns out, this was definitely a story for me!

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