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These Two Books Utterly Destroyed Me

I have never read books that have left me so vulnerable, heartbroken, and devastated before. These books wrecked me.

Hello, lovelies! I hope you're all doing well and reaching those reading goals. At this current moment, I have now read 10 books this year. The last two being If He Had Been With Me and If Only I Had Told Her by Laura Nowlin.


If you've been thinking about reading these two, I highly recommend them. But please read the trigger warnings, especially for IOIHTH. These two books do involve teenage pregnancy, death, and suicide/self-harm.


I don't think I can accurately put into words how deeply these books hit me. So, throughout writing this post, I will continue to process.


Descriptions:



If He Had Been With Me


"If he had been with me, everything would have been different...


Autumn and Finn used to be inseparable. But then something changed. Or they changed. Now, they do their best to ignore each other.


Autumn has her boyfriend Jamie, and her close-knit group of friends. And Finn has become that boy at school, the one everyone wants to be around.


That still doesn't stop the way Autumn feels every time she and Finn cross paths, and the growing, nagging feeling that maybe things could have been different. Maybe they should be together.


But come August, things will change forever. And as time passes, Autumn will be forced to confront how else life might have been different if they had never parted ways..."



If Only I Had Told Her


"If only I'd told her that I loved her years ago, then I wouldn't be here now.


Finn has always loved Autumn. She's not just rhe girl next door or his mother's best friend's daughter, she is his everything. But she's not his girlfriend. That's Sylvie, and Finn would never hurt her, so there's no way Autumn could know how he truly feels.


Jack, Finn's best friend, isn't so sure. He's seen Finn and Autumn together. How could she not know? And how is he supposed to support and protect Finn when heartache seems inevitable?


Autumn surrounds herself with books and wants to write her own destiny--but one doesn't always get a new chapter and fate can be cruel to those in love.


Told through three different perspectives, If Only I Had Told Her is a love story brimming with truth, tragedy, and the unexpected bonds that heal us."


Reactions


I'll be honest: If He Had Been With Me has sat on my shelves for a year before I picked it up on February 8th. It has always been a book that scared me because I heard it would wreck me. So I put it off. But my goal is to read more books on my physical tbr this year.


The book itself was good. I loved the characters, but maybe found Autumn to be a little unreliable. Mainly because she has so much going on in her head and it is such a big story, it's hard to hear only her side.


I will admit, this was one of those books where I had to listen to the audiobook on double speed while reading it. It was long. And slow. Which made the ending all the more heartbreaking. I remember sitting in bed, telling myself I'll get ready for work after finishing the book, and being so shocked at the ending that I stared at the wall, open-mouthed, with tears blurring my vision. I walked into work looking as if I had cried. And maybe scared my co-workers a bit.


If He Had Been With Me received a four star rating for me. It was good, the character development was there, and it made me cry. But I wish I had more. Then I read If Only I Had Told Her, and man, was I in a world of hurt.


I knew this one would hurt. I mean, we got Finn's pov in the beginning. It was like twisting the knife I hadn't yanked out yet. But Jack's pov is when I needed the tissues. I cried for that entire part of the book. Autumn's pov is the closure I needed. Don't get me wrong, I'll still be sad when I think of this book. But I think Laura Nowlin knew her readers needed this. Maybe she did, too.


I started the book yesterday, February 10th, and finished it today. No audiobook needed. Which made the story that much more intriguing to me. I put on a playlist I made for IHHBWM (which I will share below) and just read. This book received a five star rating for me.


Why You Should Read This Book


While this book has its triggers and is so heartbreaking, I have to say that it was insightful, as well. Human relationships are so important, as well as who we spend time with. Had Autumn and Finn known what was in store for them, maybe their story would have changed. But the fact that they didn't makes it very relatable and all the more understanding.


That alone is one reason why you should read these books. I am also one to believe that characters are real and share amazing lessons. We can learn a lot from people on paper. It also gives us the opportunity to have more empathy with those around us. I know that I'll use what Autumn and Finn taught me in the world. I'll keep in mind how I should treat those around me. And what relationships are worth salvaging and what are worth letting go.


Also, everyone needs a good cry every once in a while.


Playlist


I created this playlist after reading If He Had Been With Me, knowing I would read the next book immediately after. I recommend listening while reading. It creates such a unique and personable experience.


  • Ocean Eyes - Billie Eilish

  • Daylight - David Kushner

  • Treat You Better - Shawn Mendes

  • Falling Apart - Michael Schulte

  • Hold On - Chord Overstreet

  • Where's My Love - SYML

  • Before You Go - Lewis Capaldi

  • Look After You - The Fray

  • Turning Page - Sleeping At Last

  • Requiem On Water - Imperial Mammoth

  • I'm Here - David Pfeffer

  • Impossible - James Arthur

  • No Argument - Sleeping At Last

  • Possibility - Lykke Li

  • All at Once - The Fray

  • Chasing Pavements - Adele

  • We Don't Talk Anymore - Charlie Puth

  • Never Let Me Go - Florence + the Machine

  • Black Friday - Tom Odell

  • Can't Catch Me Now - Olivia Rodrigo

  • Collide - Howie Day

  • Ceilings - Lizzie McAlpine

  • Beautiful Things - Benson Boone

  • I Love You - Billie Eilish

  • Make Me (Cry) - Noah Cyrus

  • You Found Me - The Fray

  • Singing Low - The Fray

  • Story of my Life - One Direction

  • The Only Exception - Paramore

  • DIM - SYML

  • Fall Away - The Fray

  • Cigarette - Shaya Zamora

  • You Broke Me First - Tate McRae

  • Sparks - Coldplay

  • Home - Nick Jonas

  • These Memories - Hollow Coves

  • In My Veins - Andrew Belle

  • Wait For Love - Matt White

  • Girl - SYML

  • Sleep On The Floor - The Lumineers

  • 10,000 Miles - Sleeping At Last

  • Let It All Go - BIRDY


To Laura Nowlin


Thank you for cresting these characters so many of us hold near and dear. It takes such strength to not only create this story, but then continue it ten years later. If these were so raw for me, I can't even imagine what it must have felt like for you. Thank you for sharing this story.


That's all I have, loves. If I've convinced you to pick up these books, I hope you find them just as enjoyable as I did. This is truly an amazing story.


What books have destroyed you that you always recommend? Leave them below. Let's start a conversation! 🩷

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