Wow. I really enjoyed this book. I think the author has done a really good job of writing a male MC with an authentically male voice whilst making him readable for target-audience female readers.
Ryden was a perfect choice as a main character, and he was so well drawn it felt like I knew him. I loved the way he’d been put into an impossible situation and didn’t act like some martyr or self-sacrificing Perfect Peter. He was selfish and hated the fact that his entire world had been turned on its head and mixed in with all this was his guilt over Meg’s death and his attempts to care for Hope without resenting her. His relationship with Joni was well done (although is six months after his girlfriend’s death too soon? It felt a little bit too soon) and I liked the development between them as well as the inevitable shitfight when Joni inevitably finds out that Ryden has been hiding Hope’s existence from her (this shouldn’t be a spoiler - obviously she has to find out at some point!).
The story itself has enough facets to keep it interesting but doesn’t try to do too much. The ‘What You Left Behind’ of the title refers to a few things: Ryden, Hope and Meg’s journals and there’s also a nice mystery element to the story where Ryden tries to find Meg’s old journals to see what she was thinking in the months before Hope’s birth. The story is really well paced throughout, with a huge burst of action and drama at the end that kept me up reading well past my bedtime.
One thing, though - I did want to punch Alan Kang, Meg’s best friend, in the face. Seriously, if you’ve got some life-altering news to impart, you don’t do it just before someone is just about to play the most important football game of their career. And also, if you know that someone has been keeping secrets, you stay the hell out of it and mind your own business instead of blurting said secrets out all over the place. Idiot.
Still, despite Alan Kang’s social ineptitude this was a really good book: really readable with some great characters and a decent plot and I think there’s even some re-read value in there too. What more could a girl want?
I received a copy of What You Left Behind in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley