ARC Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi [SPOILERS AHEAD]

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review contains spoilers, so if you have not read this book, do not read past the plot overview!

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genre(s): Young Adult

Plot: [from Goodreads] It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college. The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?


  • It’s refreshing to read a YA book about a single father instead of a singe mother.
  • Ryden is incredibly real, from his dialogue to his personal situation to his train of thought.
  • This book touches on single parenthood in a very realistic way. Stuck in limbo between being a parent and being a child is a tough situation.
  • Ryden’s mom didn’t hand him everything on a silver platter.
  • I love Joni. I could see myself being best friends with her.
  • Ryden doesn’t go see Michael.
  • Ryden’s relationship with his mom.
  • When Ryden realizes that he’s a parent, no matter what Meg did.


  • Meg pissed me off. She was dead for the entire book and I still hated her.
  • I predicted Meg’s pregnancy situation from the beginning. As soon as it was mentioned that her birth control failed, I knew what had happened.
  • Ryden was kind of all over the place. Which I get. Being a parent is hard. I couldn’t imagine being a parent in high school. But his narration style is really inconsistent and impulsive, even when looking at his personal situation, and it sort of drove me crazy.
  • There were a lot of lulls in the storytelling.
  • The formatting was weird but I think that’s because it was just an egalley/arc.
  • I found a few typos, but, again, egalley/arc.

Favorite Quotes: 

  • “Finding someone you can really connect with is like winning the lottery — It happens basically never, but if it does, you really shouldn’t blow it.”
  • “Why does everything have to suck so bad? Even when you think it’s getting better, it’s not. Life’s building up suckiness, getting ready to hit you again, at the worst possible moment.”
  • [There were others, and I’ll try to remember to add them when I charge my Kindle]

My Thoughts: Meh. This book was only okay to me. I like that it was written from Ryden’s point of view, and I like how real it was. But Ryden sort of just drove me crazy. And I knew that Meg purposely got pregnant basically from the start, so there was no surprise there for me like there should have been. It was still a great story, like the story itself was really good. But between the narration and the dead giveaway plot twist, I’m not super impressed. I would still recommend this book to friends who are into the genre though. It’s definitely worth the read. I think I may even check out Jessica Verdi’s other books, just to see if I like them.

Jessica Verdi

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