Wednesday, April 24, 2013


If He Had Been With MeSeries: Stand alone
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 4/1/13
Format: eARC
Pages: 336
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.
 Favorite Quote:
  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.

Preorder If He Had Been With Me at:
About the author
Laura Nowlin holds a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Missouri State University. Her short stories have appeared in The Moon City Review and STEM. In addition to being ambitious writer Laura is also an avid reader who believes that books allow her to live many lives in one lifetime. When she isn’t at home agonizing over her own novels Laura works at the public library where the patrons give her plenty of inspiration for her writing. She lives in St. Louis with her musician husband, neurotic dog, and psychotic cat.
Connect with Laura at:



  1. I know not every story ends with a HEA but I still can't handle stories like this. Maybe if I smoke a dime bag and mellow out before I read it that will help? I love your review but I'm sorry you are sad :(

  2. Yep, I'm also not sure I could handle this book, although I am a fan of beautiful writing. I shall have a think about it. Great review!

  3. I absolutely adored this book too Andrea, even though I knew what the ending was I was hoping that the author had been lying to us and that she would change the way things ended. I was a complete mess after finishing this, but the tear and heartache were totally worth it! Beautiful review Andrea! :)

  4. Now I'm nervous... I have this book coming up very soon for review. Lots of tissues necessary? Oh boy...

  5. So true...the true test of a good novel is how much it can make you feel, how it can make you so invested in the characters. I want to read this one, but I'm afraid. I don't have to have a happy ending to enjoy a book, but knowing an unhappy one is coming makes the whole experience a little bit painful.

  6. Aw! I know you're sad, but I feel damn good that this book touched you so deeply. I have a love-hate relationship with these books. Kinda like The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher - I wasn't expecting a not HEA ending, but it was bittersweet since it was a tiny bit of a HEA, but it wasn't what everyone, including me, wanted. I hope we'll get that well-deserved ending in book three though. I hated that ending with pure passion, but at the same time I loved, loved, loved that book since it brought out so many emotions in me. So I know how you feel, babe! I can't wait to dive into this emotional story even if I'm scared that it'll break me into pieces.

    Oh, and on that guest post - I, too, wish I wasn't a good girl lol :D HArd habit to break but I'm pretty responsible and calculating.. I wish I had that bad girl in me to do stupid things so I could tell about my adventures to my grandkids or something lol.

  7. Oh no... this book is going to rip me apart... I just know it. I love the sound of it but now I'm scared haha. Cannot wait to get to this one. Great review!

  8. Well, I'll definitely read it some point, but sounds like I'll need to be in the right frame of mind. Great review lover!

  9. Great review babe! I love when books bring out my emotions like that. This is one that I will have to eventually read.

  10. I loved and adored this book! So glad to see you enjoyed it.

  11. Some books just break your heart and even though you know they are you can't help hoping it will end well. Don't worry you're not alone!

    Love this review Andrea but I'm not sure I'll pick it up . I tend to avoid sad books otherwise I get really mopey ...

  12. Wow, Andrea. I'm feeling pretty emotional after reading the review. I will pick this up at some point because it sounds too good not to read. But I will consider myself forewarned. Thanks for sharing.

  13. THis sounds really powerful and I don't know if I couldn't handle the unhappy ending, but you are right we are warned big time :)

  14. Wow. I want to read this book so much!! I love books that actually make make feel like I'm really THERE. I've already read a few amazing reviews of this one, so I'm going to pick it up next week, I hope.
    Thanks foe sharing!! I'm a new follower via GFC and Bloglovin. Please follow back (:

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

  15. First- beautiful review! Second- these are the kind of books I'm usually drawn to, then I'm pissed off and over emotional when it doesn't end how I want it to. Still. This one looks like it will rip my heart out, and as I said, I'm really drawn in. I will definitely put this on the wishlist! <3

  16. This book has been getting some fantastic reviews! I think I am secretly a hopeless optimist too (though you would never guess half the time!), and I'm always clinging to the thought of a happy ending whenever I read. Even when a HEA isn't the most realistic approach, it's usually what I need. I know this one will probably leave me a mess, but I still want to give it a go. Great review!

  17. Nope, can't do it! I am so NOT in the mood for sad stories right now. Great review, muffin!

  18. Gosh!!! I really want to read this but what the point of a book without a happy Sigh....I'm definitely intrigued.

  19. Well damn. Do I want to read this now or not? Gonna need virtual hand holding it sounds like. Great review.

  20. Fantastic review Andrea..and I am the same way..even when I know the ending will be hard I never quite give up hope. Despite the ending the ride sounds well worth it. Adding to my list!

  21. I can only read a sad book once in a great while. They really stick with me. I'm like you, even if I know it's going to be sad, I still can't help but hope for the HEA. Wonderful review Andrea.

    Laura, I think we all wish our teenage self didn't care so much what others thought, but I guess that's just part of growing up. Thank you for the guest post and sharing. :)

  22. You review and the guest post are wonderful. I don't do well with sad books like this. They bother me for days and days, and more days. I read Flawed at Christmas and it still bothers me. Maybe I will work up the nerve to read this one at some point. I am sure it is great.


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