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?
This review won't be like any other review I've ever done before because I can't give a structured review of this book. I just have to bare my soul and thoughts about this book because that's the only way I can do the book and its impact on me justice. Hopefully that makes sense.
I knew this book was going to make my heart hurt just based on the synopsis, but I didn't know how much it would affect me. What You Left Behind had my heart hurting from beginning to end but in a good way. The beginning starts out with Ryden struggling with his baby, and I felt my heart melt. There is just something about a man holding and taking care of his baby that makes me and most women just melt. I don't usually like reading from a guy’s POV because I can’t really relate to him, but Ryden had my heart from the first chapter, and I just fell in love with him. It's so sweet how much he worries and cares for his daughter. It's obvious that he has a big heart and has a lot on his shoulders. The way he worries about everything makes me love him more and everything he went through just made my heart bleed for him.
What You Left Behind is the kind of book that teaches you lessons you never knew you needed to know, and it keeps your heart feeling ripped open the whole time. Ryden and Meg's story is one that will always stay in my heart because of the sheer pain they both went through, and the impact it had on me. This book is all from Ryden's POV. Its set after Meg has passed; however, it features some of her thoughts through journals she left behind. I loved those parts of the book where we got to see Ryden read through her journals because we go to know a little about Meg. I got to see what she was going through a little when she was pregnant, and it just made me hurt for her and Ryden even more.
Every page turned in What You Left Behind was like another painful step into Ryden's story. Ryden goes through a lot in this book from stressing about school, relationships, his home life, everything, and the sheer strength he had to get through it all really touched me. At first, I was mad at Rylan for being interested in Joni, but I soon realized that he needed her to keep him sane. Joni made him see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can't say I was happy about their relationship, but I understood it. Another thing that I loved about this book was how emotional it made me.
At one point, I had tears rolling down my face because the intense emotions this book made me feel just overwhelmed me. It is rare that I cry because of a book, but this book touched me to the core. Ryden's dedication to his daughter, Meg's unwavering love for her unborn child, the pain Ryden went though, the struggles he had to endure, and the anger some of his situations caused me were too much, and I just had to cry for a minute. I'm telling you, this is the type of book that will leave you feeling like your heart is an open wound but you will love it because you can't help but love this story. Books like these make me believe that books are magical, truly.
I hope this all made sense, and I hope you got a good review out of this because I could not have reviewed this book any other way. This is the type of book that pushed me to bare my soul without any structure at all. There was never a moment in this book that I didn't love. Sure, I hated some of the situations Ryden was experiencing, but I could never hate this story because I feel like it changed me for the better. It taught me that life may get hard, but it will be okay. It also taught me that loving someone can change you in a way you never expected and even though that person may be gone, that love will never fade.
Hopefully you can tell that I loved this book with all my heart. Even though I read the eARC, I plan to go out and buy the paperback of it so I can display it on my shelf. This book will be great for people who are looking for a different kind of book from a guy’s POV about teen parenthood, tough decisions, and a story that will have you falling in love with it. I know I fell in love with this book. Also, fans of The Fault in Our Stars might love this book as well. It gave me feelings similar to TFIOS that is for sure. Needless to say, this book has earned its spot on my favorites list and it's by far one of my favorite reads this year. I give What You Left Behind five out of five stars.