What I Leave Behind is a young adult, contemporary fiction by Alison McGhee and is set to release on May 15th, 2018 by Atheneum Books.
This is one of those reads that make you think a lot after you’ve actually read the book.
What I Leave Behind is a contemporary that revolves around Will, a young adult. He works at a Dollar store and tries to attempt his father’s special cornbread recipe every Tuesday when his mother works overnight. The above two is the most he does to his routine because everything else is spontaneous even though unintentional. If you would ask me to summarize this book, I somehow can’t. Not because it’s too complex or because I’m not interested enough to talk about this novelette in just a few words. I mean, the author wrote the entire story in just 10,000 words; why can’t I speak about it in a few?
The fact is, What I Leave Behind is a mix of realistic and literary fiction, for me at least. It’s constructed in a way that makes Will seem like anybody else amongst the crowds of today but it’s told in a way that makes Will seem like an individual, unique to his own story and feelings. Both realistic and literary fiction make it on my favorites list, and this book gives me more reasons to say so. While the story’s contemporary world weaves issues like rape and suicide into Will’s life, the writing makes one discover the plot through a maze of absolutely-normal-simplified words. Basically, it has a plot of realism and character of writing.
Will is unknowingly ridden with guilt and questions that he somehow can never answer. He’s going through the loss of his father and his friend got raped, and while he tries to ‘walk off’ things, he can’t just forget about stuff. Yes, for the few times he does stop thinking about these, it’s because he’s trying hard to be kind, courageous, and just helpful. He loves when his boss at the Dollar store smiles genuinely, or when the little kid is amazed with the punctual butterflies, or when the homeless man gobbles over his failed attempt at cornbread.
I know, all this must be sounding absolutely absurd and not something that sounds like a well crafted plot, but it is. Trust me. One thing I would specifically advise is to not read the blurb (which is why I didn’t paste it here either) because it gives away literally everything that can surprise you or get you to wait for what’s next. Don’t read the blurb and seriously, Will will let you know his thoughts-cum-story in a first person point-of-view.
The only thing that cost half a star is the ending. I’m a lover of closures unless it’s a series (I’ve no idea if this will have a sequel or not, I don’t think so) so while the entire journey was great, I felt like the last period was placed just for the sake of making it look like a well-thought of open ending but in reality it just left me wanting more and not in a good way. However, the ninety nine chapters easily take over the last one.
Alison McGhee writes novels, picture books, poems, and essays for all ages, including the forthcoming novel Never Coming Back (out in October 2017) and the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. She lives in Minneapolis, California and Vermont.
Win a print copy of What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee. US only and ends 22nd May, 2018.
I received a digital copy of this via a part of a promotional blog tour but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Atheneum Books, Alison McGhee and FFBC!
You can follow the tour according to this schedule!