By Amia D.
Editor’s note: Readers are advised that this book includes mentions of suicide, self-harm, depression, rape, and alcohol abuse.
When I first heard of BookTok sensation If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin I was a little apprehensive about starting it. I knew the book did not end on the happiest note, but then again some of the best books never do, so I plucked up my courage and dived in. And OH MY GOSH I can’t believe I ever thought about not reading this book.
The story follows Autumn Davis as she navigates what it is to be a teenager in all of its glory and pain. Much of the focus is on Autumn and her relationship with her ex-best friend Finn or as she likes to call him “Finny.” Autumn and Finny are next-door neighbors brought together by their mothers and friends since birth. As they get older, Autumn finds herself a close group of friends while Finny becomes the “popular boy” creating a rift in their once close friendship. But as the years come and go Autumn begins to question what life would have been like if she and Finny remained friends. And when circumstances push them back into each other’s circles, Autumn can’t help but be torn between her head and her heart.
If He Had Been With Me is a beautiful novel that describes what it is to go through your first love and the difficulties that come with friendships. Laura Nowlin paints a spectacular portrait of the innocence that comes with youth, and the love, loss, sorrow, and regret that comes with growing up. Autumn’s story is one that many can relate to and learn from. We are reminded that not all loves last, not all friendships are the best, and not all days end with an intact heart.
I would rate this book a 4.5/5 stars because while the beginning was a little slow, the ending made up for it. Be warned, if you want to read this book make sure you have tissues on hand as I sobbed for at least 10 minutes after finishing it.
P.S. If I could choose one song for this book it would be Funeral by Phoebe Bridgers.
(DO NOT LISTEN TO IT AT THE END OF THE BOOK OR YOU WILL BE EMOTIONALLY SCARRED)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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