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Erin's Books

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Veronica Roth
Gameboard of the Gods
Richelle Mead
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Rainbow Rowell
If He Had Been with Me - Laura Nowlin So I knew the sadness was coming...still killed me. 4.5 starsIf He Had Been With Me is one of those stories that I approached knowing there was going to be some heartache but it also had a wonderful story about life, first love, family and friends. It was a quick read which is good as I didn't really want to put it down.Autumn and Phineas have grown up together. They were born a week apart, their moms are best friends, and they live right next door to each other and up until middle school, they were best friends. Autumn was always “weird” and Finny was the popular one. All through the book flashbacks are mixed in to allow us to really get to know these characters and I have to admit, they are now some of my favorites.The way Autumn is described early on as “pretty” but also quirky and odd. She refuses to eat the bottom left corner of her sandwiches, she believed herself to be a feminist in the third grade, and decides she is going to wear a tiara every day after trying one on once. Finny is good at sports, caring, and was loyal to Autumn. This line says it all:It was understood by everyone that I belonged to Finny and that we belonged together.All of a sudden though, Autumn becomes friends with the popular crowd and they aren't in the same classes anymore. As Autumn sees it, they just drifted apart. Finny definitely has a different point of view here – he even calls her out on it and tells her she left him and I can see it. No matter what was going on with Autumn, he was there in the background.The story follows the characters through high school from their first day all the way through graduation. Autumn and her best friend Sasha are now a part of a group in school that wants to be different and begins to date Jamie. Finny is now a part of the popular crowd, he is in track and soccer as well as begins to date one of the cheerleaders. During the span of the four years, Autumn and Finny are not really friends but they also aren't not friends. They still have family time together with their mothers and every once in a while they cross paths at school. This story isn't just about their high school experiences though. It covers some pretty deep topics – depression, divorce, love, pregnancy just to name a few. As the reader, of course, we see things that the characters don’t. We see that Autumn is still drawn to Finny and ultimately realizes she loves him. Unfortunately she decides to stay with Jamie and just when she is ready to move their relationship forward, she finds out that Jamie cheated on her with her best friend, Sasha. I have to say here that I thought there was something going on with those two and was thoroughly annoyed with Jamie and Sasha saying it was an “accident” and they didn't mean for it to happen. I was happy to see Autumn tell Jamie off.Once the breakup happens, Finny is the one who is able to bring her back to her normal self. Slowly they build back their friendship and through the time they spend together (and with Jack – Finn’s other BFF) Autumn finds out that Finny always had feelings for her and the kiss that she views as a catalyst to the change in their relationship was really him showing her he cared about her as more than friends. Things start to click for Autumn and she takes the chance and tells Finny how she has felt for him over the years which leads back to where the book opens. Because of who Finny is, he has to talk to Sylvie (who he is technically dating) in person about his decision to break up and he decides to do it the night she returns from Europe.Going into this book I knew it was going to make me sad but as Autumn says “Sometimes sad is beautiful.” The book is beautifully written and the characters are complex and imperfect. That is what makes this such a good book in my mind. The only issue I had around the ending was the fact that Autumn felt Finny would be ok with her ending her life. Just because she felt Romeo & Juliet was a beautiful story it didn't go along with what his character represented. He was protective and loving and in my opinion would have wanted Autumn to continue living and would not have understood as she implied he would. Perhaps that was her way of justifying it and making herself feel ok about attempting to commit suicide but it felt out of place to me.