January 16, 2015

Book Review: If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin

If He Had Been with Me
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

“Try to marry your first love. For the rest of your life, no one will ever treat you as well”

I don’t know if I have the strength to write down everything I felt inside me about this book right now. I don’t want to give any spoilers but… HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME, LAURA??! HOW CAN YOU EVEN DO THIS IN OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER??? I JUST FOUND YOUR BOOK AND YET YOU ALREADY MADE ME WAILING ALL NIGHT. HECK I AM CRYING RIGHT THIS MINUTE YOU KNOW OH GOD............................................................................

Okay. Okay. I’ll set my emotion straight first…


Okay, I’m ready.

If He Had Been with Me is a young adult novel by Laura Nowlin. The story is told backward with prologue and epilogue set in present time. The opening scene was already kicking your heart. But the next chapter until right before epilogue took you back to the past time to tell you every moment spent together by the main characters. Even though the timeline was sometimes jumping back and forth, surprisingly it was not confusing. Laura did a real great job piling all the moments and put it together so that every moment has firm relation and gives strong vibe to the readers.

Lately I’m having a hard time to finish a book in one day. There will always be excuses that forcing me to finish reading in 2-3 days. But once I sat down to start reading this book, I was drowning instantly. Laura’s writing style was so addicting! I was hooked. Totally hooked that only after one chapter I already set this thing in mind: I’m so going to finish this book today no matter what. I literally abandoned everything I was doing and focused only on this book. And Holy God… damn if this book didn’t fascinate me!

Having mothers who were best friends with each other, went through pregnancies together in spring and went to labor with gap only one week, Autumn and Finn has been friends for more than they could remember. There was never a day that they didn’t spend with each other’s companies. Anywhere, anytime, they never stay far away from each other. Having another people from school to befriend with never really appealed to them. Simply says, they were inseparable. Finn has been protecting Autumn ever since forever. Even though sometimes insecurities came creeping up to Autumn’s sleeves ―thanks to their classmates’ comments― Finn never gave a crap to all that and kept pulling her close under his arm.

By all means, I should have felt like an outcast here, a pariah, and Finny should have been the popular boy he is now. I wasn’t, because of him, and he wasn’t, because of me.
Growing up, without they realized, they became slowly apart. Best friends became simply friends became strangers as they were pulled by their own worlds, each. Finn was in the popular group while Autumn was in the ‘misfit’ group. Their worlds were just too different to be placed side by side. People might say that Autumn and Finn was simply an item. The inseparable one. Well, their mothers could keep imagining the future of them both to end up together for all they want, but things between Autumn and Finn were never as simple as childhood best friends turn soul mates. It was much more complicated than what appeared on the outside.

But what if the complicated things were never really there in the first place? What if their separation was caused by something happened between them long time ago instead of by the differences of their worlds now? What if things that caused them apart was their own self? And if they ever came to their realizations sooner, would things ever turned out differently? If they’d been with each other, would the story become any different?

The love I’ve tried to hold back breaks its dam and flows over me,
curling my toes and making fists of my hands as I breathe his name into my pillow.

“Finny”, I say to the lonely dark. “Finny. My Finny.”

My breath shudders and my eyelids close against the pain of loving him. 
Finny. My Finny.
I loved this book. I loved the writing, every word was chosen carefully and they were so damn beautiful. God, every single page ‘screamed’ love right to me! I could just add this book to my ‘to-be-read’ EVERY MONTH ALL YEAR…

I fall in love with Autumn and Finn. God, how I love their names both!!! I always love the name ‘Finn’ for all my life. That’s why the second I read the blurb and it said the male character was named Finn, I didn’t think twice. But truthfully, the blurb was so damn intriguing. It was so short yet hiding something that raised my curiosity to the max level. Somehow I know, God I know, it will end like that. But I held my hope high that things would not be like that. But oh, hell…
Autumn was so adorable. In certain parts, she reminded me of myself back when I was in high school. The realization that hit her surreptitiously and how she handled her heart with all the circumstance she was in…
"I know what I am feeling. I know that it is real, and in this moment there is nothing else in me but this knowledge. I’m in love with Finny."
And Finn, OHMYGOODNESS!!!! Finny and everything that he is are all that I ever want to spend the rest of my life with. His protective side, his understanding, his caring, his EVERYTHING!!!! I loved how natural the way Laura wrote every little detail of Finn’s moment that build up his whole kindness. Like that moment with worm in the sidewalk…
Finny used to ask me to go outside with him to save the worms on the sidewalk.
It bothered him to see them drying and writhing on the pavement the day after rain.

He hated the idea of anyone ―anything― ever being sad or hurt.
Ohholyheartfinnymyfinnyasfsdkfsfhjds! It was so cute it totally melted my heart I didn’t even know how to put it back together into its solid form… Oh my Finn… Finny with his kindness… Finny with his kindness and........................................
I cried thousand times during reading. The feeling I had during reading If He Had Been with Me was the same one with those what I felt during Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. In the end I wanted to crawl into the corner of my bedroom and scratch the wall with all my ten long nails for hours (I might just do it if my sanity didn’t kick me hard on my face…).
Despite bunches of tear-jerking scenes; I found that this book had a lot of hilarious moments as well. Like the ‘table war’ scene, God, I could just imagine how it went… so dang funny!
The ending (even though it was nothing I pictured it would be) has something that will make you feel ‘alright’. Simply said, this book would be the right one that you’ll really enjoy its every moment.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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