Title: If He Had Been With Me
Author: Laura Nowlin
Genre: Young Adult; Romance
Synopsis: “If he had been with me everything would have been different…”
I wasn’t with Finn on that August night. But I should’ve been. It was raining, of course. And he and Sylvie were arguing as he drove down the slick road. No one ever says what they were arguing about. Other people think it’s not important. They do not know there is another story. The story that lurks between the facts. What they do not know—the cause of the argument—is crucial.
So let me tell you… (Goodreads)
This book chronicles Autumn’s growth through high school, but it doesn’t feel like the typical high school book I’ve read. From the synopsis, you can tell that it’s going to be heavier and darker. Nowlin is able to write really well about topics like depression, relationships, family troubles, and how friendships are broken. There is a lot of raw emotion, and moments are heart-wrenching and bittersweet.
I really liked the characters because the book really shows their development well. Autumn has an alternative/goth chic fashion sense, which I enjoy and would someday like to try and wear. She and her group of friends don’t have that “we’re different so therefore we are superior” vibe. By contrast, Finn can be seen as the golden boy, a star football (soccer) player, so they run in different circles. Since they have been friends since they were young, their dynamic really goes beyond the “opposites attract” thing. These characters felt fleshed-out and imperfect, instead of being said that they can do no wrong. This goes for the rest of the characters too, since they make real mistakes with real consequences.
The pacing was also well-done. After a few duds in my book streak, this story kept me reading until I had finished. With the waves of emotion, and the wonderfully-written story, it wasn’t hard to stay interested.
Overall: I felt this book was well-written, and a very real and emotional story of growing up, family, love, and the dark moments in life. Pick this up if you want your feelings and heart tossed around like a potato in a dryer.
(Don’t put potatoes in dryers. Never ends well.)