Book Review – ‘History Is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera

An endearing character study in grief and loss.

History Is All You Left Me Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 294

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Griffin has lost his first love in a drowning accident. Theo was his best friend, his ex-boyfriend and the one he believed he would end up with. Now, reeling from grief and worsening OCD, Griffin turns to an unexpected person for help. Theo’s new boyfriend.

But as their relationship becomes increasingly complicated, dangerous truths begin to surface. Griffin must make a choice: confront the past, or miss out on his future.

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Told in alternating narratives in time, one from 2016 (the present) after Theo, Griffin’s boyfriend, has passed away from a drowning incident; and another from 2014, a happier time when Theo was alive…

To be honest, 3 months had passed since reading ‘History is All You Left Me’ until writing a review. I usually write up notes straight away, and I don’t know if I omitted my review because of the emotional impact, and I needed a few days to let it sit and simply forgot, or jumped in to the next read to get away from the book hangover and started to avoid writing a review. But the sad fact is that I forgot everything about ‘History Is All You Left Me’ and I needed to skim through the whole book to collect my thoughts. That is not a good sign. Usually I remember enough to write up a review… let’s see what my opinion is after a quick flip through the novel:

History Is All You Left Me Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI think the main reason I didn’t get into ‘History Is All You Left Me,’ and also why it did not impact me as much as I was expecting was how Griffin behaved. He was literally a man-s!#t. Though there was no cheating on anyone, and yes, I know when someone is dealing with loss and grief (and maybe some guilt too) that lots of weird and unexpected things can happen. Like sleeping with your deceased ex’s boyfriend. And similar such destructive behaviours. So while I understand it, it did nothing to dispel the bad taste left in my mouth. I wanted a protagonist with a stronger character. Someone I could get behind. But Griffin is a mess. Both before and after Theo’s death. It does humanise Griffin and gives this story a level of realism. But I feel like if I praise this book, I’ll be condoning that type of behaviour. That it’s okay to be selfish in times of grief and hurt everyone around you. Um, yeah. This novel was triggering. I’ve lived through grief and loss of many loved ones and been the victim of other people’s destructive behaviour. It’s not nice.

Theo is painted as the innocent, the saint that everyone has lost. He wore his feelings on his sleeve and there were no secrets with him. Which was nice to read – illustrating the tendency to place those who have passed on a pedestal. Even if you are mad at them in your grief.

After Theo departs for college, and Griffin dumps him, Theo meets Jackson. Jackson’s time together is only brief before Theo drowns in an accident. I found it interesting, the different colours of grief and guilt played out between Griffin and Jackson in the chapters set in the present day. And how, as they work through the loss and memories of Theo, it changes them, and their relationship to each other, Theo, and those around them.

I will say I appreciated the inclusion of parental figures, and a professional therapist. Though they didn’t play as a prominent part as I would have wished, they were present and helped our characters navigate the new and heavy feelings associated with mental illness and grief.

I did not really predict much about this story. We already knew Griffin’s first love, Theo has died and that the book was going to be about him dealing with that and moving on… apart from that, it’s a wild guess as to what would happen. Because this is not a plot driven story, but a character driven one. Plus, we get a nice character twist that added an element of charm and hope for the future.

The tone of ‘History Is All You Left Me’ is an endearing one. As Griffin is addressing Theo’s memory through most of it. Keeping his memory alive. And the method of alternating timelines added something that broke up heavier scenes of loss with happier times and made this book easier to read.

Overall, a touching read, but not one that stabbed me in the heart like I was expecting. But a joy to read Adam Silvera’s writing and forging a legacy of interesting queer leads in literature. If you don’t mind a more emotionally challenging story then I recommend this one for you.

Overall feeling: A little sad, a little triggering, an okay read.

History Is All You Left Me Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

History Is All You Left Me Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Girl From the Sea’ by Shalini Boland

A fun, brain-teasing mystery.

The Girl From The Sea Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Mystery, Thriller

No. of pages: 306

From Goodreads:

Washed up on the beach, she can’t remember who she is. She can’t even remember her name. Turns out, she has an idyllic life – friends and family eager to fill in the blanks. 

But why are they lying to her? What don’t they want her to remember? 

When you don’t even know who you are, how do you know who to trust?


What a ride! I was dubious about this book after the first few chapters: amnesia as a plot device, *yawn* everyone lying to the protagonist, it was all feeling a little 80’s-television-plot from ‘Moonlighting.’ Especially when in those beginning chapters our protagonist Mia didn’t really want to find out about her lost memories – she said she did – but I would have ransacked my house, called every number in my address book and had the police giving me as much information as I could. Mia just seemed so blasé about it all. A little clue here, a little clue there, a mysterious memory-dream, blah, blah, blah.

But then the plot started to kick in and things got really interesting. I was quick to forget about my sarcastic views and started to enjoy working out the plot.

I liked Mia’s innocent views of her situation, but not so much her behaviour. She never questioned herself – why did she react in certain ways? Why did she surround herself with the type of people she has? Needless to say, I didn’t peg her for much of a thinker. Nice. Pleasant. But not too analytical when it came to trying to piece together her life. And I also found her a little weak at times. But other times I liked her vulnerability and strength to power through difficult situations. She is complex and had a riveting story, and even though my opinion of her is fractured, she is compelling.

One of my biggest pet peeves in real life is people using ‘babe’ or ‘baby’ as a term of endearment. So even before we get to know Piers, Mia’s boyfriend at the start of the novel, I instantly disliked him. Anything he did after that was inconsequential.

The Girl From The Sea Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle


The pacing is good, but I would have liked stronger clues discovered earlier, either as red herrings or dark secrets, something to give that first few chapters a bit more oompf.

The Girl From The Sea Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleBoland has a pretty deft writing style, she’d brief and to the point, but spends the time to set the scene – especially with the many outdoor settings. I could practically smell the water and feel the warm sun on my face.

For some reason, I got really attached to DS Wright. Something about her manner and the way Boland wrote her had me screaming for more – I would have loved more scenes with her presence, maybe more active in the narrative in helping Mia piece together her life. There was even a moment I hoped for some sort of dalliance between her and Mia. *gasp*

I must say, I had guessed the plot well before the ending of the novel. Only because the author didn’t do a good enough job at placing a little suspicion on everyone. Some people were too squeaky clean and that was a bit like waving a giant red flag. The other thing was viewing all the actions objectively… But still there was a little curve ball or two thrown in that I did not see coming.  So, bravo Shalini Boland, you got me!

A great read. I completed it in a day and recommend to anyone who likes a good psychological thriller. It’s not a genre I have read much of before, and this was a great reintroduction.

Overall feeling: And then? No and then! And then, and then and then… I wanted more.

The Girl From The Sea Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Girl From The Sea Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.