I was warned that this book would make me cry, but I wasn’t warned that I’d be crying 42 pages in (yes, I checked what page it was). This book HURT me. Over and over. The fact that it was written in a back and forth of History (past) chapters and Now (present) chapters somehow made it hurt all the more, but kept me from breaking completely. It kept the balance between crying and laughing, the heartbreak and the hope, what was and what is. It was beautiful and emotional and brimming with feeling—like everything Griffin was feeling was bursting from the pages and slamming right into you. He had a story to tell and he demanded you hear it. It was everything I’ve come to expect from Adam Silvera’s writing and more.
The characters in this book also felt so real. Their voices, their personalities, their relationships with each other were so achingly real that it added an extra depth to this story that it wouldn’t have otherwise had. Even just the side characters felt like they had a purpose. They weren’t just there for convenience—they had a part to play in the way this story went. That’s always something I find important to have in books (for every character that appears to have a purpose for being there) and it was definitely achieved here.
The format of it was also so unique and made the experience of reading it that much more engaging. I don’t want to say too much for fear of it ruining the experience for anyone who hasn’t read it, but part of what makes this story what it is, is that it’s written to make you feel like it’s talking to YOU. Like you’re reading a personal diary that Griffin wrote to tell you his story. It pulls you in to give you a glimpse into his rawest hurt and deepest love, and every bit of the experience claws at your heartstrings.
It also made it so that I was never completely sure of what was going on—I thought I was, but really, I wasn’t. I was hearing this story and discovering the way it went at the pace that Griffin intended me to know it. I was merely a listener—a spectator, if you will—to his history, to his present reality. This is storytelling at its finest, because the words are spun in a way that makes you feel like you’re not reading this story—you’re hearing it.
I’m not someone who has OCD, so I can’t really say it’s my right to speak about how good the representation of it in this book was, but I CAN say that the way it was written really opened my eyes to what it must be like living with such a disorder. I didn’t just see it through Griffin’s character—I felt it. I felt what it was like being in his head and having to deal with what he dealt with. There’s something to be said of an author that can make you empathise so thoroughly with something you’ve never experienced, just by giving you a glimpse of it through a character’s mind.
I’m always here for mental health representation in books, and Adam Silvera, in my opinion, treated such a hard topic in a very delicate and yet honest manner, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was informative in a way that was engaging. You understood it because you felt like you were experiencing it secondhand.