Jessica Verdi is an author that I’ve read before. My Life After Now, a book about a theatre-focused high school girl who ends up contracting HIV that I read a few months ago, was a good story. I came across her book What You Left Behind on the DC Library website e-book selection, and decided to check it out. Little did I know that I would read the whole thing in under 24 hours.

Ryden Brooks is a seventeen-year-old whose life is anything but normal. His girlfriend Meg died from cancer, leaving their infant daughter Hope in his care. The book picks up when Hope is six months old. Ryden is struggling to start his senior year, juggling soccer practice, school and being a parent. He is also overcome by guilt, believing him getting Meg pregnant is the reason why she died. He searches for the answers through the numerous journals Meg left behind. He also makes friends with coworker Joni.

I’ve read books and stories about teenage parents before, but I had never read a novel that tells the story from the male’s perspective.Verdi’s writing from Ryden’s point of view is so believable that I almost forgot it was written by a female. I’ve always been interested in books where the narrator is the opposite gender of the author. It gives them the challenge of creating a believable character that can have entirely different thoughts and feelings.

I liked how Verdi made Ryden a realistic character. He has a job and is a young father, but also gets sidetracked about what a typical seventeen-year-old experiences: sexual desires, socializing and┬ástriving to go to college. Verdi’s writing is brilliant.

The setting is a nice change of pace as well: New Hampshire. I haven’t come across a lot of books lately that take place in New England.

I highly recommend this book; the characters are very believable, the story is realistic and the writing is very well done. I will definitely be reading more of Verdi’s work.