Book Review: If He Had Been With Me

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If he had been with me everything would have been different…

I wasn’t with Finn on that August night. But I should’ve been. It was raining, of course. And he and Sylvie were arguing as he drove down the slick road. No one ever says what they were arguing about. Other people think it’s not important. They do not know there is another story. The story that lurks between the facts. What they do not know—the cause of the argument—is crucial.

So let me tell you…-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: April 1, 2013.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again.” 

My Thoughts:

Don’t be fooled by my favorite quote; this book is not about the love of books.  However, the main character, Autumn is an avid reader and writer so there are many quotes in this book dedicated to her two passions which I find most enjoyable.

I purchased this book on a whim from Amazon because it was priced for approximately $3—a bargain I could not pass.  Upon receiving the package, the book retired to my bookshelf for a year only to be picked up a couple of days ago.  As I have not heard much about this book, I went into the reading with little to no expectations.  Admittedly, I was hoping for a novel similar to 7 Souls, ones of my favorite books.  Yet, this book is far from that.  Rather than watching my protagonist try to defeat her death like in 7 Souls, Autumn discovers love and its implications and limitations.  Yes, very different than my slight anticipation.

Autumn is not a typical teenage girl.  She craves being different, enjoys being known as “the weird girl,” and is perfectly okay with settling.  Rather than find her irksome, the novel reveals reasons as to why she is so different from her peers, and it breaks the reader’s heart.  Throughout the novel, Autumn reveals pieces of herself to the audience which definitely demonstrates the many dimensions she has as a character.

While this revelation of Autumn is necessary, I, unfortunately, find it to be a bit too slow for my taste.  Many scenes were unnecessary.  There are frequent tense changes.  Other pivotal scenes are cut too short with little explanation.  Additionally, the ending, the most pivotal moment of the book, fell extremely short of my expectations.  I feel that Nowlin quickly wrote this ending scene and left it totally ambiguous that it is frustrating to readers.  Together, these elements make the novel a bit frustrating to me at times. 

Despite my frustrations, Nowlin’s writing is decently easy to follow and rather addicting.  While I read this book, I got lost for hours in this world many times.  This book is a great summer read that you can quickly finish.    

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this to those who enjoy realistic and contemporary young adult fiction.