Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If He Had Been with Me Book Review

If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin

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If he had been with me everything would have been different...

I wasn't with Finn on that August night. But I should've been. It was raining, of course. And he and Sylvie were arguing as he drove down the slick road. No one ever says what they were arguing about. Other people think it's not important. They do not know there is another story. The story that lurks between the facts. What they do not know - the cause of the argument - is crucial.

So let me tell you...

Review by Brittany:

This book was listed on Amazon as being on sale, and the blurb is what prompted me to buy it. The blurb is actually almost stated verbatim - although more in depth - in the first chapter of the book. This is a YA (Young Adult) novel, so the characters are all teenagers.

The beginning of the book has a bit of an ambiguous timeline, so I felt slightly confused about the order of events from the get-go, although it was easy to catch up after the initial time transition. The writing style of the author was also a little weird for me at first. Her protagonist is a teenage girl, but the writing does not flow in such a way that a teenage girl would be telling a story. But, as the book continued, I could appreciate that more because the writing was more adult and more suited for me as a reader.

That being said, the author is able to get inside a teenager's head and describe life in high school in a way that feels convincing. The protagonist, Autumn, struggles to fit in with friends, appease her parents, please her boyfriend, and still is trying to figure out who she really is. Throw in her complicated relationship with Finn and it's no surprise that she is often overwhelmed.

I could really relate to Autumn because, like me, she is an avid reader and dreams of writing her books one day. She struggles with the practicality of that career but wanting to chase her passion. She also struggles with depression, feeling overwhelmed by life and sad for no reason at all. How strongly I could relate to the character and how well-written the novel was in dealing with the complexities of being a teenager and of high school made this book grab my attention and hold it.

The ending was shocking and strong and was so full of emotion that I could barely stand it. It was a very beautiful ending to a very beautiful, well-written novel. I definitely recommend this book.

Notable quotes:

We move on completely different planes of existence and bringing one into the other's realm would cause a shifting in reality that would upset the entire structure of the universe.

I can see all of this as if it has already happened, as if it was what happened. I know that it is accurate down to the smallest detail, because even with everything that did happen, I still know Finny, and I know what would have happened.

It was the sort of happiness that fools you into thinking that there is still so much more, maybe even enough to laugh forever.

I love him in a way I cannot define, as if my love were an organ within my body that I could not live without yet could not pick out of an anatomy book.

But there is a difference between knowing something and feeling it.

I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again.

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