To begin with, I would like to clarify that the “too many feelings” description is for the characters in the book, not what I experienced. For me it was mostly a mix of pure frustration, anger and heartbreak at times. As the book synopsis will tell you, History Is All You Left Me is about Griffin, whose first and now ex-boyfriend, Theo dies in a drowning accident. Even though Griffin was the one who broke up with Theo, who was going to college, he still believed till the end that they were endgame, and no matter what happens (like Theo getting a new boyfriend in college), they will end up together. So Theo’s death breaks up that future and several other things inside of Griffin. The issue – no one understands him, except Theo’s now boyfriend Jackson, who is feeling the same loss as Griffin. But can tragedy bring you closer to a person whom you have hated with all you have till now?
Finding the answer to that question is not the only thing that Silvera’s book is about. The book is like a quest to understand what it means to love a person – how much you can push those boundaries, how you decide what you save, and how much of yourself do you choose to let go, and how much you save in the process. If I have to describe it in one word – it’s messy. The characters, especially Griffin, deal with a lot of emotions, which is understandable as he is only 17, has just lost his best friend and love of his life, has to make friends with almost nemesis to cope through that grief, while also figuring out how not to ruin things with other important people in his life. It is too much to deal with for a teenager.
The book is messed up in a good sense, because it brings out the turmoil of the characters in a way that makes you feel messed up inside. There are times when you just want to shake Griffin and tell him to snap out of it, and shout – “What the hell are you doing with your life!”, and in the next few paragraphs you will realize he is just a teenager! There were bits that I liked, especially the depiction of Griffin’s OCD – he’s obsessed with even numbers, and such things. I could relate with it without the issue overpowering the whole book, as tends to be the case with some of the novels I have read in recent times.
But there were also bits I absolutely hated and which left me asking several questions about a realistic depiction of the situation – like how screwed does your moral compass have to be to do certain things that Griffin does in the book no matter how much you are grieving? Still as I have said it before, I might not know these things, and hence this is just my opinion of things. Overall, the book is a big bunch of emotions which (if you are reading it in one sitting) swallow the reader much like the ocean that swallows Theo. It is beautiful in some parts, and ugly in others, literally pushing you to rip out the pages, or throw away your device in frustration.
I would not say it’s a must read because honestly I believe it is unhealthy to suffer from so much trauma, but you can give it a go if you are feeling emotionless (I really hope you never feel that, but still). Finally, I think the best lesson I got, was from my favorite character (will not be giving the name as it would reveal too much of the plot), that it is not okay to love someone so much that their absence destroys you and that you are luckiest if you have someone who can love you when you are together, and is strong enough to let go when you are not.