Thursday, November 8, 2018

Book Review: What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

At some point she has to walk out of the house into invisible air, air that has no roof or walls.

And how do you get through? You know? When things are too much?

Because the world, it’s full of air. Full of sky and space. Ocean, too. All of which are bigger than any crowd of human beings, on the street, at school, at Dollar Only, at restaurants. At parties.

It’s hard to remember that, though. Hard to remember that people are tiny. They stare at you, they talk about you, but all they are? Tiny.

Look up, artists.


I seriously think this is one of my new favorite books. I just finished it, and I may read it again. The voice in What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee is just that good.

Official Synopsis: 
Book Review: What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee
Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.


The voice of Will, and the lyrical way he told his life completely resonated with me. Over the course of the two evenings it took me to read this book, it gave me a feeling of peace.

Will knows himself pretty well, and reads those around him in an insightful and warm way. He’s compassionate and wants the world to be a better place. Each of his chapters about lifejust a few paragraphs each, always less than a full pagepresented a memory of an interaction with the world around him. I loved every single one.

I can’t tell if everyone else would love this book as much as me, but with less than 100 pages of actually words, I think you should give it a try. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and I may not pass along the book like I usually do, since I already want to read it again.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley has been a blogger for more than 15 years at SweetlyBSquared.com. She wishes her words could make someone feel as good as this book made her feel. Someday.

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