REVIEW #135: If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

Title: If He Had Been With Me
Author: Laura Nowlin
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Pages: 330, Paperback
Source: Library

If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

I don't know how I feel about this book. Well, that's not entirely true. I feel sad, hopeless, angry, confused. Rather - I don't know if I like this book. I had no problem reading it. In fact, as I got closer to the end I didn't want to stop reading. I knew what was coming, but I didn't want to believe it. I had to read it for myself. And the pace was smooth and the reading was easy. But I don't know if I enjoyed myself while reading. This was not a happy book. And much of what happens seems juvenile in hindsight. 

But I can appreciate how Laura Nowlin told this story. There was something sadly poetic about it. Autumn and Finn obviously love each other but both are too scared to admit it. Through a series of misunderstandings they are forced apart and start dating separate people. Autumn sinks further and further into depression, while her and Finn grow further and further apart. But slowly destiny finds a way to bring them back together. Only to end in tragedy.

PS: I hated this ending with a passion.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks of memories between Autumn and Finn. Their friendship and eventual love was sweet and innocent. It kind of speaks to the idea of having a soulmate. But the reasons which kept them apart were stupid. I was so frustrated. And I hated how their story ended. Life sucks sometimes.

I am slowly realizing that I care a lot about the message that a book sends its readers. If I don't like the message or I think it's a bad one, I am inclined to not like the book (case in point Then You Were Gone). And this book doesn't really send a good message. I was sick of Autumn trying to convince herself to settle for Jamie. For 4 years he was good to her and she treated him like crap. But that wasn't even it really, I understand this happens in real life. It was the fact that this book treated teen pregnancy, suicide, and depression like they were no big thing. These are serious topics and shouldn't be treated lightly in a story. I don't think they were handled well here. 

This book wasn't really for me but I think maybe a younger audience would enjoy it more than I did. The writing style was smooth and the story between Autumn and Finn was, if not tragic, compelling. 



  1. Hmmm after reading your review I feel like I would agree with you. I also find that I can't get behind books that I don't agree with the message. It's just one of those things.

    1. So they were subtle, but that's part of what bothered me. Like oh, some teenager got pregnant? NBD. Or you want to commit suicide? Your depressed? Also NBD. Like no, that is not ok with me.

  2. I think I will pass on this one. I love reading young adult but I usually get overly frustrated when they are acting too immature/childish. Also, I really understand where you are coming from about having a book that sends the wrong message. It irks me too.

    1. Yeah, I am going to support the decision to pass.

  3. Your review has me inclined to believe I'm not going to particularly like this one. There's something sad about books that don't really tackle topics as serious as the ones you've mentioned well -- and the ending does NOT sound promising.

    1. No the ending was depressing. Granted, it was one of those 'life sucks and this is how it sometimes ends' but still. This whole book was sad with subtle terrible messages.


Copyright © 2014 The Quiet Concert
Template and Design by New Chapter Designs