Book Review: What You Leave Behind

What You Leave Behind by Jessica Katoff: "Ten years is a long time and even though I love you, I don’t think this is best for us anymore." Those are the words that fall from Liam Barnes' lips and leave Harper Reed's heart in ruins on the side of Interstate 5. He's lost and he thinks leaving her and all of Oregon in his rear-view is what he needs to find himself, dragging her heart right along with him as he goes.

Blindsided and devastated by the loss, Harper's life crumbles around her, but she's not the only one rocked by the news of Liam's departure. Austin Hayward, Liam's best friend and her long-time admirer, handles it about as well as Harper—not well at all. He is the only other person who understands the abandonment and helplessness she feels, and she finds comfort in their common sorrow and, unexpectedly, in his arms.

It's where Austin has always wanted her and where neither of them predicted she would end up. But is it where she'll stay? Is a new spark enough, when compared to an old flame, like the one Austin can see still flickering in her eyes?

Toward the end of a downward spiral lie the answers. What You Leave Behind is a story of anxious hearts, the deceitful self, and what it means to be lost and found again.

TeriLyn's thoughts: **ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review**
I finished this book last night and have been sitting on my thoughts since. This is a hard book for me to review. I usually don't like love triangles so I try to avoid reading a book based on a love triangle all together. The synopsis of What You Leave Behind wasn't completely indicative of this being a love triangle. 

 Often, I find myself rating books on the feeling I get when I read them more so than the plot, writing, themes, etc. This is especially true if something in the book I've experienced or can envision myself experiencing. With that said, I have nothing in common with Harper, the heroine. Except that we both have in common a deceased parent who died of cancer. Harper is lost in love, drowning it it. The love of her life that spanned a decade leaves her and the hollow that is left is lost. She finds comfort in his best friend. I found Harper a bit naive. She's 26 and it felt like I should be reading about am 18/19 year old girl. 

 What You Leave Behind is about the after math of her great love leaving her and what happens when he returns. It's about finding friendship in unlikely places. It's about finding yourself in the rubble that's been left. I really did like the story. The writing is descriptive and forthcoming. The story is engaging to the point that I wanted to know what happens and who she would choose. It provoked feeling in me even though it wasn't all positive. For that, it's worth reading. I just didn't love it. I found myself having a hard time connecting with Harper. She is so confused and back & forth that I found nothing relatable. 

 The story is angsty, which I don't mind. But the main character herself is a constant state of angst, which I did mind. That's where experience comes into play. I've never been in Harper's situation and without that experience it's harder for me to understand her. I loved Austin's character, a lot. He's a broken man who has lost his support system. He's found his great love and wants to commit to it. Liam is a train wreck. Not even he understand why he let go of the love he held in the palm of his hand. Although his story is a bit under developed, it's tragic. My heart broke for him. I wish we would have gotten a little bit more of his story when he left because it seemed as though there was so much more to him than what we got. All three, Harper, Liam, and Austin have been each other's support for most of their adolescent lives. When one third of their whole disappears, emotional chaos ensues. 

Harper's mom, Hilary, was a breath of fresh air. She's spunky, honest, and real. I'd love to read her story of healing. Personally, I was disappointed in the ending. I thought it would go a totally different way but again, it provoked feeling from me so for that alone I have to say I liked the book. Overall, it's a good read and I'd suggest it. It's just not the type of story I'd read all the time.

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Lori L. Clark

She Reads New Adult Admin: Lori L. Clark

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