Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 4/1/13
Source: Received from publisher for review
Source: Received from publisher for review
If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.
Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...
The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy
I finished If He Had Been With Me a few hours ago, and I still sit here not quite knowing what to say. This book, it did quite a number on my emotions. That's a good thing. I think I'm still in shock over the conclusion of the story.
I don't know why I found the ending so shocking, I was clearly warned in the opening that If He Had Been With Me would not have a happy ending. Maybe it's because I am a hopeless optimist who always believes that every story has a happy ending. I would also say my heart feels crushed because I went into the story thinking it would be Finn and Autumn, learning that it's more about Autumn and her life without Finn, but always longing for him, waiting for both of these two to WAKE UP and see what is right there in front of them, a short time of elation, then
that Autumn and Finn's story would not take the tragic turn promised at the beginning of the story.
When I finished If He Had Been With Me, I felt sick, heartsick and physically. I wanted to be angry, at the characters and at the author. I really, really did. As a reader, I was so invested in this story, and that really surprised me because I spent the first half frustrated of Autumn's trivial day-to-day account of her own life. But once I was able to really get into the story and grasp what it was truly about, I was so there. I could hardly put it down. But I can't be angry, though I am so heartbroken that I am thisclose to just laying my head down and crying all over again. I can only feel, grateful, I guess? Because If He Had Been With Me made me feel deeply. And that is my greatest test as a reader.
I've loved him my whole life, and somewhere along the way, that love didn't change, but grew. It grew to fill the parts of me that I did not have when I was a child. It grew with every new longing in my body and desire in my heart until there was not a piece of me that did not love him. And when I look at him, there is no other feeling in me. ~eARC, 49%
My eyes are wet again, and I feel one tear trail down the corner of my eye, and then another and another, and I realize that there may never be another moment more perfect than this for the rest of my life. ~eARC, 94%
Ten Things I Wish I Could Change about my High School Years
1. I wish smart phones had existed, and that I'd had one.
This seems frivolous, I know, but when I was in high school only the rich kids had cell phones at all, and wi-fi was a rare and wondrous thing. I can only imagine how cool it must be to get into hilarious hijinks with your friends, and be able to post pics of your shenanigans in real time. If we did something cool, we had to tell people about it later, and we probably didn't have photographic proof, because pictures were these paper things you had to pay money to have made.
2. I wish I had broken up with my boyfriend.
Now, my high school sweetheart was not a bad guy by any means, but looking back I see how I only dated him for my entire high school career because I liked the idea of only having one boyfriend ever. If I had really been following my heart, I would have admitted to myself that he wasn't the one and only guy for me, and I could have possibly had a wider range of romantic experience.
3. I wish I had broken more rules.
I was a good kid. A really, really good kid. Sometimes as an adult I wish I had some of the when-I-was-a-crazy-teen stories that other people have.
4. I wish I had learned to drive.
In If He had Been with Me, Autumn manages to graduate high school without learning to drive. I managed to graduate from college and get married without a driver's license. I let a small anxiety grow into a massive mental block, and I wonder what the ego-boost of conquering my fear would have done for teenage me.
5. I wish I had admitted to others that I needed help.
As an adult I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, but as a teenager I hid my depressive episodes from my loved ones. I can only imagine how different those years would have been if I would have admitted my to struggle and gotten the help I needed.
6. I wish I had worked harder in Spanish class, and gone to Spain on the class trip.
I ended up minoring in Spanish, but I never did get the experience of full immersion, and now my skills are so rusty that I'll probably never be fluent.
7. I wish our exchange student had lived with us all four years
Swantje lived with my family for ten months. She challenged and inspired me, and ultimately changed me forever. To this day I keep a picture of her by my writing desk.
8. I wish I had cared less about what other people thought.
I think everyone feels this way about their high school years. At the time, I claimed that I didn’t care what others thought, but when I compare that to how much I really don’t care now...
9. I wish I’d been less critical of my body
When I look at pictures of my teenage self, I just want to grab that girl by the shoulders and scream, “Your stomach IS flat! It really is! And you are not appreciating how high your breast are! Your stomach is flat and your breasts are perky! Go put on a string bikini and feel fabulous! Right Now!”
10. I wish I had written more.
To be fair, I think this is something I will always say about any time in my life. I guess it's nice to know that some things will never change.
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