Adam Silvera’s History is All You Left Me is a moving and accurate portrayal of losing someone.
History begins the day of Theo’s funeral. Theo has died unexpectedly in a drowning accident, and this leaves his ex-boyfriend Griffin in complete despair. Although Theo and Griffin had been broken up for over a year, Griffin had always believed that he and Theo would end up together in the end.
What truly amazes me is that Silvera has said that he has never lost someone to the scale that it is represented in this book. (See here.) It is amazing because Silvera truly writes the grief very well. While each person is unique in their grieving process, Griffin’s grieving process reads so, so well.
Grief is a non-linear process. There is never a point where you stop missing the person that you have lost. There are times where happiness can easily be had.There are times where it is easier to stay in bed all day rather than to try to function as a human with grief. There are times when it is easier to stay at home rather than attempt to go to school or to work. There are times where it is easier to try to push away the grief, and in the process of pushing away the grief, you hurt people that you truly do care about.
Silvera writes all of this well. While I have not lost a boyfriend, I have directly witnessed two family members die very unexpectedly (one with 71 days of history, one with 76 years of history). I have also had friends die (one killed in Afghanistan, one by an unexpected medical event).
I know what is like to both linger in the history of those people and to linger in an alternative universe where the individual is still alive and I had more time to make amends or simply spend more time with them.
Quite frankly, even without having experienced the type of traumatic grief that he writes about, Silvera writes it so well.
Silvera also greatly balances the tragedy of Theo’s death with the history of Griffin and Theo coming together and the eventual loss of the relationship. These chapters, interspersed with the present day chapters, provide some necessary lightness to allow the reader to continue to deal with the heaviness of the other chapters. It is no easy task for a reader to be drawn into someone else’s grief, and so these history chapters should provide a welcome mind relief for the readers. Silvera also writes the history chapters very well.
In addition to the grief and the relationship between Theo and Griffin, Silvera also writes about Griffin’s compulsions as he believes (and later has it confirmed) that he has OCD. In writing this, Silvera does bring into the story his own personal compulsions. Silvera also writes into the story two completely opposite reactions to Griffin’s compulsions. One character believes they are simply quirks but is accepting of them while another character realizes that they are compulsions (medically related) and accepts them. I’m glad that Silvera included both reactions because both are completely realistic reactions. As the reader reads further into this story, the reader should realize that Griffin’s compulsions are not simply “quirks” but rather OCD. This is not something that is forced into the story but is rather a part of Griffin. I know that some readers may not understand that, and while I do wish that Silvera had explored this more, ultimately, this is a part of Griffin and not the main focus of the story which I understand.
Amazon link:History is All You Left Me