Hello there and happy Monday! I’m 14 reviews behind, but if I write this one there is one less in that massive stack. I’m so glad to be here today with a review of What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee. This book was sent to me for review by the publisher, but does not have any affect on how I read and review it. Thank you Simon Teen for sending me a copy!
Title: What I Leave Behind
Author: Alison McGhee
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Release date: May 15, 2018
My rating: 3/5 Goodreads stars
After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.
Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.
When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.
This was a really, really quick read for me. I sat down with it one afternoon and knocked it out. To be honest, I didn’t know about the 100 word chapters, and in retrospect, I have mad respect for McGhee pulling it off. It’s super easy to get lost in the words and describe everything, but this book was all about being concise. I appreciate how she did it and I applaud her for it.
That being said, I do wish it was a little longer! I feel that I couldn’t get a huge feel for Will throughout the book. I wanted to get to know him more beyond what was given. I also wanted to know the other characters more.
One thing I liked about the book was the constant action. Because the chapters were only 100 words long every word counted. There wasn’t much time spent on descriptions of things or people, it was almost always action. I liked the pacing of the book as a whole, and I liked how Will took you backward in time to explain some things.
I wish I had gotten to know Playa more! She seemed like a really fun character, and a lot of what Will does is because of something that happened to her. I understand that this is Will’s story in the end, but maybe there can be a book about her in the future?!?!?!
All in all, this was a good book, but it didn’t wow me. I wanted more from it, and while I appreciate how hard it must have been to write it, this didn’t quite get there for me. I encourage you to read it yourself though! It may be the book for you!!