Review || What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

What You Left Behind
by Jessica Verdi
Series: None
Release date: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genres: Contemporary, romance
Age category: Young Adult
No. of pages:  352 pages (kindle edition)
ASIN: B00O6606OE
Source: NetGalley (Sourcebooks Fire)
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. 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?
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My thoughts and whatnot:

My rating: ★★★
How do I even begin to convey my feelings (love) for this book? I've said before that this was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015. And it scared me that this would not live up to my expectations. But no, it didn't fail. From the beginning, right before I requested it in NetGalley, when I've read the synopsis. I knew, I just knew, that I'll love it.

The premise was really interesting. It may seem not new but to me, this is very unique. I've read a couple of YA books and most of them features a single mother. And to be completely honest, I cannot come up with (right now, anyway) books starring single fathers. To say that I was pleasantly surprise that Ryden was not only the male protagonist but is also a single father was an understatement. This was kind of a YA book about stages of grief plus single parenting. The fact that it was really realistic, daring and emotional only added to the allure of it.

Ryden was a very complex character. It's completely understandable considering his long time(-ish) girlfriend just died and left him to raise a daughter alone, add that up to the fact that he's still in senior high and is trying to earn a soccer scholarship.
Ryden didn't have an easy life, being a son of a single mother, he cannot put Hope (his daughter) for adoption and she was what was left of Meg. After Meg's unfortunate death, he was a complete emotional wreck. He cannot cope up and blames himself for her death. "If he hadn't gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive." But he found solace in his workmate, Joni. She's fun and interesting, and the greatest part, she doesn't know anything about Ryden. In between his soccer practices and work, he barely have time for his daughter, which kinds of tick me off.

Male POV seems pretty new to me. I've normally read alternating povs of the female and male leads. So this was really refreshing. Plus, Ryden was a very honest character, which was fun sometimes. I could really feel his raw emotions; he speaks what's on his mind, no sugarcoating, even the most sensitive subjects (many kudos to you Jessica Verdi!). But sometimes, he could be pretty stupid. He made a lot of wrong choices mistakes but as the story progresses, he also developed into a mature young man. This book has many more interesting characters that added to the fun that is "Ryden's life."

I like the uncertainty of the ending, or dare I say the beginning? It was a great ending.
Is it a page turner? Uhmmm. Yes!?! Would I re-read it again? In a hearbeat.

About the author:
Jessica Verdi is a young adult author who writes envelope-pushing stories about not-so-pretty real-life issues, but always with a positive spin.
Though she’s always been a bookworm (her childhood was basically defined by the philosophy that working your way through giant stacks of library books is far superior to playing outside), she remained convinced throughout high school and college that the stage—rather than the page—was meant to be her creative outlet. After nearly ten years pounding the NYC pavement auditioning for musicals (and sometimes actually getting cast in them), she got an idea for a novel. That novel was an adult magical realism story, and while it will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Jess received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School and works as an editor at a romance novel publisher. She loves all animals, from the cute and cuddly to the large and freakish, has been a vegetarian for most of her life, is a little too obsessed with TV shows about vampires, and has an amazing group of writer friends who keep her sane.

Jess lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and dog.
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