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Review: What You Left Behind

Jessica Verdi - What You Left Behind
Published: August 4, 2015 by Sourcebooks
Pages: 358
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find on: Amazon, Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: 3/5

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, and 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?


So there's this couple on Teen Mom, Catelynn and Tyler. They originated on the MTV reality show, 16 & Pregnant, where it documented Catelynn's teen pregnancy. Blah, blah. As both of them were derived from trailer-trash, they decided to give their unborn baby up for adoption as they had no sense of stability at the time. Luckily, they found great parents for their daughter and Catelynn and Tyler are occasionally able to visit her.

Some of you are probably like, "WTF, does this have to do with anything, Peach?" Lemme get to it, y'all.

After Ryden's high school sweetheart, Meg, dies during her pregnancy from cancer, Ryden is left only with the product of their love, Hope. He's shattered in more ways than one. Working tirelessly at Whole Foods and yearning to return to the soccer field, where he'd once been a star goalie has stretched his patience. Though Meg remains on his mind, Ryden wants nothing more than a UCLA scholarship.

Returning to school comes with its grievances. And as much as Ryden would like to remain a normal teenager, he still has Hope to care for. Most of the time, he's shown pushing her onto his mother, Meg's former best friend, Alan, and refusing to be around his daughter when she was happily babbling.

If Ryden couldn't be around Hope, he should've given her up for adoption. Like I said. His reason for keeping Hope, though, is so damn dumb. Because she's part of Meg. Like, really? Get your shit together, boy.

Genuinely, I felt bad for Meg and Ryden. Mostly, Meg. She seemed like an innocent, relatable girl with a crush. Then, Ryden started uncovering her journals because she hid them for fun before she died. She got pregnant to leave a legacy. I have too many things to say about that. I think Ryden puts it best, though.
"She was so obsessed with me sophomore year that she didn't go to the doctor when she started getting sick? Her cancer got bad just because I fucking existed? Are you fucking kidding me? (...) Meg lied to me from day one. Used me, manipulated me, made me love her, let me fight for the abortion when she knew her decision all along, destroyed me just so she could just leave something meaningful behind. Seriously, are you fucking kidding me?"
Ryden finds his next romance in his Whole Foods co-worker, Joni. Ryden is definitely the type of guy who we all wonder, "What does he see in her?" Because honestly. So instead of spending time with Hope like we would've...hoped, he plays soccer and routinely ditches his daughter for the occasional bone. There were times I felt for Ryden but I stick with the majority.

Though Ryden was mostly flaky, Hope was lucky to have Ryden's mother and Meg's former best friend, Alan, caring for her. Someone was always willing to extend a hand, which was a sweet sight.

There were quite a few things I liked but I also had a few outweighing issues. In the end, it's a somewhat-deserved recommend.


  1. Aww, this is SUCH a disappointment. Tbh, Ryan seems like he doesn't even care he has a daughter?! But then he is a teen so I guess it'd be hard to be struggling with trying to grow up and having a kid and aaaall that. BUT YEAH. It seems really messed up. 0_0
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. I know, right? I'd been seriously looking forward to it, too! Like, I get it's probably hard being a teen parent and having to continue your normal routine with a child but YEAH. It's very conflicting, really.

  2. This book sounds absolutely ridiculous. I can tell from your review I would have more problems than enjoyment. Getting pregnant to leave a legacy? That just sounds so wrong.

    Sarah @ Kerosene Lit

    1. LOL. Honestly, I'm almost tempted to re-edit my review. The book, though, had some good but a majority of it was bad. It was one of those with a better side-cast tbh.


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