What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi | Book Review


I received this book free from NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire in exchange for an honest review. 

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?

My Rating: ★★★★☆


Ryden is a newly teenage single dad who has to figure out how to juggle school, soccer, work and being a father all at once. All while dealing with the fact his girlfriend is dead, and he thinks that he killed her. Or at least helped in killing her. This first part of the book takes place during the summer, and also during the time when he is ignoring the fact he has yet to have come up with a plan about babysitters and soccer and school. Work is the easy part. 5-1030pm M-Sat.

He is also preoccupied with finding specific journals that his dead girlfriend wrote in, and made a checklist in the back of. He think that she wrote motherly advice in there that will help him become a better father. And frankly, he is right. She did end up doing that. But I think that he wouldn’t have listened as well if the things going on in his life hadn’t happened at exactly the same time.

Eventually he finds a temporary solution for his babysitting needs during the first week before school started. He had Megs, his dead girlfriend, friend Alan watch his daughter while going to soccer practice all day. And even then during that time he was still late. Still got punished by the coach and his team started considering him unreliable.

When school starts he decides to send Hope, his daughter, to a government funded daycare downtown. And it works, for a little bit. He knows that she isn’t getting the attention she deserves, but he is bound and determined to do soccer because he intends on going to UCLA and says that if he makes it there it will jumpstart a better life for him and Hope.

While all this is going on he is dating but not dating a girl from work, Joni, who doesn’t know he has a daughter at all.

Of course, not everything goes as he plans. But I am not here to tell you that.

My Thoughts:

I did not like Ryden. At all. Even after he got his stuff together. Being a mother, a young one too, I just don’t understand how you don’t automatically put your child first. There are things I want to do. I want to go back to school(college), but I don’t trust the government daycares here so I will not be sending my son to one. And I don’t think that he should have sent his daughter to one either.

I also don’t think he should have hid the fact he had a daughter from Joni. And he honestly expected that to go over well when she eventually found it.

Just a lot of things about him I did not like. And same with Meg. She may have been dead the whole book. But she #1, shouldn’t have lied to him about the pregnancy. #2, SHOULDN’T HAVE TOLD HIM THROUGH A FREAKING JOURNAL. I mean come on. She is so selfish. And sure. I should feel bad because she died from cancer that she wasn’t going to live through anyways. Oh well. No.

The only person I did like in this book was freaking Ryden’s mom. She told him things straight. She was a great grandmother. And a great person.

I did like the writing, how sometimes when Ryden was reading the journals it would “flashback” to the part in his life that it was happening. I did like, even though I hated him, how real Ryden’s thoughts were.

Also, just to be clear. I did like the story. But the entire story was character development for Ryden. The actual story part was interesting I guess? Ryden thinks he’s a bad dad so he thinks finding his will help him figure out how to be a better one. Cause that makes sense? Let’s find your deadbeat dad who will help you be a better one. Then he thinks that Meg left some motherly advice in her jounrals. Not really.

Other than character development there isn’t much substance besides what helps the character develop…

I am interested in reading more from this author.

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4 Responses to What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi | Book Review

  1. I love the cover and it sounds interesting, but I’m confused by your review. Did you like the story? It doesn’t sound like you liked the main characters so I wasn’t sure?


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