What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Reviewed by Sara, Simsbury Library

20933641I chose this book to review because it was what I was currently reading when we received the list. The story intrigued me and my time was due to read another “problem” novel, as I like to call them.

Ryden is having a rough time of life. He got Meg pregnant, Meg decided to stop chemotherapy in order to save her baby instead of herself, and then Ryden becomes a single parent. He is a senior and scouts from UCLA are visiting to decide if he is good enough for their soccer scholarship. How do you balance being a single parent, going to school, playing soccer, and oh yeah working to help pay the bills? Not very well.

Meg left behind some secret journals that Ryden thinks will help him become a better father. The intrigue and obsession of finding the journals adds a bit of mystery and determination to the story. You and Ryden will discover some things you did not expect.

This story shares Ryden’s struggles and what it means to let go of the past and create a new future. Do I think it will win the Printz? Nope. Would I read another of Jessica Verdi’s books? Yes. She really connects you to the characters. To really feel what they are feeling and root for them to succeed. I would love to read just a short, one chapter, follow up to Ryden’s story when he is in college and see how the family is doing!

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