If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.
Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...
The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.
(Picture and synopsis from Goodreads.)
Natalie: We were lucky enough to meet Laura Nowlin at our localish library, and when we told her we were going to review this book, she said to be honest. (More about this at the end...)
Hannah: And we can honestly say that we loved it!
WE ARE GOING TO SPOIL THE GREEN SOCKS OFF OF THIS BOOK!!! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ IT, SKIP TO THE RATING SECTION AT THE END!!!
Natalie: How about we start with the green socks?
Hannah: What do you want to say about the green socks?
Natalie: I don't know. It was funny.
Hannah: Apparently we can't form sentences that actually sound good today.
Natalie: How about we squeal about stuff? We can do that!
I want a baby goat named Augusta!
Hannah: Me too! Even though a goat tried to eat my dress once when I was five.
Natalie: But goats are so cute!
Now onto characters that aren't goats.
Hannah: I loved Autumn's character, but I didn't like how she thought that she would just marry Jamie and everything would be perfect. Mostly because Jamie irritated me, but also because no high school freshman has their life that planned out.
Natalie: It seemed a little naive, especially for someone starting high school. That's around the time that most people realize that happily ever afters don't usually happen in real life.
Hannah: Though I guess freshman year is a lot of being glad you still have time before having to deal with standardized tests and college searching and everything.
Time for quotes that make us hate Jamie.
"It's hard to predict when Jamie will approve or disapprove of any eccentricity of mine." (page 70)
"'I will never, ever, never leave you,' he says." (page 63)
"That isn't beautiful. That just sucks." (page 138, while they are discussing the meaning of life)
Natalie: And now a character we did like--Finn. He was so nice and he always saw the best in people.
Hannah: And even though there was a rift between him and Autumn, he kept it friendly between them. Autumn and Finn had such a great friendship that they were able to go right back into being friends even after the awkward period between them. They were more of best friends than Autumn and Sasha ever could have been. And he was so concerned when Autumn got the black eye from Jamie when they were sledding.
Natalie: "'F*** you, Sylvie,' I say." (page 100)
That was exactly what I was thinking for pretty much the entire book. The author wanted the reader to hate this character and it worked really well.
Hannah: That pretty much sums up our feelings for Sylvie.
I loved how If He Had Been With Me was set in Saint Louis, our lovely hometown. I really liked reading and hearing something about how St. Louis winters go on forever and just thinking, yeah, pretty much.
Natalie: Also, she mentioned something about how September is a summer month in St. Louis and how the weather doesn't turn cold until October or even November. Sadly, this is true. St. Louis is special in the way that winter and summer drag on forever.
Now for a quote that we book nerds love.
"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." (page 141).
Hannah: Besides Jamie and Sasha, I liked Autumn's friends a lot.
Natalie: It was surprising when Angie got pregnant.
Hannah: It was, but I did like that she never was that mad that she got pregnant. It wasn't what she ever thought would happen, but she ended up being very happy.
Natalie: And Preppy Dave was so supportive.
Hannah: I thought that they all should have stopped calling him Preppy Dave when they got married.
Now back to hating Jamie. I hated how he thought Autumn was too depressed so he just didn't want to deal with it, even after he had said he wasn't ever going to leave her. He's a horrible boyfriend and person.
Natalie: "Sasha and I have discovered that we have feelings for each other." (page 245) OH REALLY.
Natalie: So let's talk about Finn's death. I didn't like the way he died.
Hannah: But it's a tragic ending. Like every single book I read in English last year.
Natalie: I understood that the author wanted Finn's death to be Sylvie's fault, but I thought he should have just died in the car crash instead of the freak electrocution. My issue with the ending was that after Autumn tried to kill herself, she realizes that she might be pregnant. Suddenly, she doesn't want to die anymore and everything's going to be perfect and Finn is going to live on through this baby that she might have. It's as if this suicide attempt was completely forgotten and now that she might be pregnant, everything's okay. I loved this book so much, but this ending is the reason I didn't give it five stars.
Ratings (no spoilers beyond this point)
Hannah's Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Natalie's Rating: ✭✭✭✭1/2
Hannah: I loved this book. The characters, the voice, everything was so interesting and unlike anything I've read before. The ending wasn't my favorite, but I still loved this book.
Natalie: I really enjoyed this book. It was very "character driven" and each of the characters was fantastic. The book was very well written and an addictive read. I took off half a star because I had a problem with the ending, but other than that this book was amazing.
|Emma (Hannah's sister), Natalie, Hannah, and Laura Nowlin|
|Hannah, Natalie, and Emma|
Aren't we cute munchkins?