“It’s amazing how words can do that, just shred your insides apart.” – Lauren Oliver
They really can. Some ~10 years ago I read If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin. I read the book in a matter of hours and felt like I had been on a roller coaster of emotions. By the end I was in tears. And then I picked it up again and savored it a second time, taking in the highs and lows, the tearful parts, the sweet moments. I cried for days and thought about it for longer. I still do now, from time to time. I picked it up a couple of years ago again and realized it no longer brought out the same whirlwind of emotions in me, but Nowlin used her words to create something that has stuck with me through all the books I’ve read, and that’s special.
Has this ever happened to you? Tell me about a book that’s shredded your insides.
Hauntingly beautiful is the perfect way of describing Laura Nowlin’s If He Had Been With Me. The young adult novel was published on April 2nd, 2013 and I have read it several times since then. Picking it off the shelf makes me feel warm inside, like I am visiting old friends, despite the emotions I feel towards the end. It is a story that has stayed with me for years, and I imagine it will continue to do so for a very long time.
I feel for Autumn and Finny, the main characters. Their lives, their hopes and desires, and their character flaws all resonate with me in some way that has reached inside and taken hold. I’m fairly detached in personality, but I cried at the end, and felt real anger towards decisions made. The story is from Autumn’s point of view, but I firmly believe that Finn’s is just as important and wish it could be explored in greater detail. I ache to know more even though their stories are long over.
Autumn and Finn are life long friends who grow apart as they grow up, each still loving the other in their own way despite cold distance at times. During their senior year of high school, the ice begins to thaw between them, and the summer before college, they realize how much they love each other. On August 8th, that all changes forever.
I like all kinds of books, although my preferences do typically tend towards paranormal and urban fantasy. Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. However, when asked for a recommendation by someone, If He Had Been With Me is my typical answer. And that’s the highest praise I can give.