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review 2018-07-22 20:25
Y"so tragic it is beautiful"A
If He Had Been with Me - Laura Nowlin

Thanks so much to Paige Bookdragon for the recommendation. 



I'm 35yrs old, so I don't think I always mesh well with YA because I'm simply just older. When I was in my early teens I remember reading "Say Goodnight, Gracie" and "Don't Die, My Love", I cried and threw myself into the sadness of it all. Now some of the issues I can't help but be "ugh, get over it", "hahahahha, together in complete love and happiness from freshman year to forever" (I know it happens don't @ me), and just the general over indulgence, and scared of the newness, are kind of missed by me.


This is all first person from the heroine which is also hard for me because I like insight from other characters. I found myself more interested in the grown-ups issues, lol. I also thought some real tough issues were glossed over, there were two teen pregnancies portrayed as great gifts instead of giving them the levity they deserved, and we had a bit of a boy's love is a cure all and the key to happiness.


The ending was rushed with bombardments of events, events that felt completely contrived and manipulated for emotion; the whole "so tragic its beautiful" syndrome that has some calling Rome and Juliet a romance when it is two early teen kids killing themselves. The writing is captivating at times but manipulated emotion isn't real to me, boys and babies don't cure depression or act as a cure all, and I missed having a pov from Finn. I think I've just passed these types of books on by.

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review 2016-03-03 18:26
If He Had Been With Me
If He Had Been with Me - Laura Nowlin

Autumn and Phineas have been friends and neighbours all their lives. But as they reach the awkward years of hormones and new feelings, they begin to drift apart. Since their mother's were friends since childhood they often get together for dinner and holidays so it's not always easy to ignore each other like it is in high school.

We go through Autumn's four years of high school with her. She is part of a different crowd than Finny. She has her close-knit misfit friends and her boyfriend, Jamie. Finny is popular, a star soccer player with a cheerleader girlfriend named Sylvie. Autumn also shares her childhood memories of Finny. And she finally admits to herself what she already knew deep down all along. After all those long years things finally fall into place. But not for long.

The writing was so good! The characters were three-dimensional, the story flowed well. The last few chapters were lacking and felt rushed otherwise it would've been a five star read for me. Everything felt real - the friendships, getting drunk for the first time, wondering if he likes you but being too scared to do anything about it, the feeling after a breakup. It definitely took me back. I couldn't put it down.

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review 2016-01-29 13:30
If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
If He Had Been with Me - Laura Nowlin

Goodreads Synopsis: 


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...




Where do I begin....I didn't know what to expect from this book and when I started it I wasn't sure I would like it but I was so wrong.


Autumn and Finn are best friends, they're next door neighbours and grew up together, their mothers are best friends and they've always been like family. However, as they get older they grow apart and belong to differing groups of friends at school, but Autumn has always had Finn in the back of her mind and thought 'what if?' 


The writing in this novel reminded me of We Were Liars as it was like being told a story rather than living it. The story is told through flashbacks of when Autumn and Finn are younger along with her current progression in school. It told of friendship, first love, and family in such an honest way. The author also deals with serious issues such as depression and family issues throughout the story which play a part in showing us how Autumn is the person she is today and the influence these issues have had on her life.


Although I knew how it would end I was intrigued to find out how the story would unfold and if maybe the author was trying to trick us in the beginning. However, when the ending did come, although it is just as upsetting when you know its coming, it would have much more of an impact if readers were unaware of what is about to happen. The other 'surprise' that happens is also very predictable, it's a bittersweet ending but also leaves you feeling like 'thats it?'


Overall I really liked this story as even when you have finished it remains with you as you can't stop thinking about the story and what would have happened if Autumn and Finn hadn't grown apart. Definitely a strong novel by Laura Nowlin that I would recommend others to read.

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review 2016-01-15 00:28
I wanted to feel something profoundly and this heartrending book delivered
If He Had Been with Me - Laura Nowlin

"Like all things that have become history, I now feel as if I always knew it, as if all through this story, it had been lurking in the shadows. The story underneath the story."



This F'ing book!! It gave me a bad bout of depression laced with a hint of bipolar disorder then hope and ultimately sadness and curiosity...damn unresolved ending...Is she or isn't she??? I moped around the house while reading this book from the very first page and it wasn't until about 90(ish)% done that I started to feel anything other than despair and frustration. The beginning of the book starts off letting us know that a horrible thing will occur. So yeah, we were warned but waiting for it to come to pass was agonizingly slow (and slightly annoying) mainly because I wanted to smack Autumn (the quirky/beautiful MC) throughout the entire book. How blind can someone be to the fact that all your hopes and dreams are not only possible but completely within your grasp if you just get out of your own head and OPEN  YOUR EYES??? 


"Finny, my Finny, kissed me. It was horrible. It was strange and wonderful. It felt like I was watching a meteor shower and did not know if it meant the stars were falling and the sky was breaking apart."



The two main characters (Autumn and Finny) are EXTREMELY well formed. They are 3 dimensional, robust and without a doubt savory. Their relationship is exquisitely complex and undeniably beautiful. I manically  kept watch on the page count. I wished desperately that I could freeze the moment and live within it a bit longer while simultaneously devouring each page because I just HAD to know what happened next....I read in bed. I read in front of the TV. I read in the bathroom and in the car BUT when I got to the end I cursed this freaking book because it was an unsatisfying (semi) Cliffy :-(


Damn book! This heartbreaking, Coming of Age story deftly highlights how subjective our life experiences are. The writing is emotive, the characters and world building are excellently crafted and the sentiment is poignant and tragically beautiful. I think we all can relate to the cast of teens (and the Mothers as well) as they face the horrible truths of Adulthood. There are a host of Coming of Age realizations and each one made me feel like I was welcoming home an old, friendly pain that had slowly become inconspicuous by blending into the background din of Adulthood. Sound dramatic and fatalistic?? It does and this book has enormous amounts of both but the underlying sweet innocence of it all is heartrending and definitely on the sweeter side of bitter-sweet. I picked this book because I wanted to feel something. I wanted to feel something profoundly and this book delivered. My heart is still aching.

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review 2015-12-02 00:56
This Song Is (Not) For You
This Song Is (Not) For You - Laura Nowlin

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the pragmatic characters and their ability to be themselves. They think outside the box and they didn’t expect perfection, they went with what felt right to them. Inside these teens know what their hopes and dreams are, yet passing this information on to those who matter becomes another issue.   Since freshman year, Ramona and Sam have been April and Rain, a band comprised of Sam on guitar and Ramona on drums.   It didn’t take long before she falls in love with him.   It is now their senior year and Ramona is excited for next year when they both will be attending Artibus, a private college. Tom enters the picture and they want him to join their band on vocals, thus the love triangle. It was an interesting love triangle, almost amusing at times as the three of them test their new relationship. The ending was one of my favorite parts as the characters true colors shine.

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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