- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (April 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781402277825
- ISBN-13: 978-1402277825
- ASIN: 1402277822
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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If He Had Been with Me Paperback – April 2, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Autumn Davis and Phineas Smith grew up together; their mothers are best friends and next-door neighbors. Hand in hand, they experienced life's milestones until adolescence; that's when they grow apart as each one struggles to form an identity outside of their families. Autumn slips to the fringes of the high school hierarchy, while Finny skyrockets to the top. They both find new friends and romantic relationships. Autumn's boyfriend, Jamie, is smart, handsome, and patient enough to nurture her through her bouts with depression. Finny's relationship with his girlfriend, Sylvie, is complex. The heart of this novel is an examination of an unresolved childhood love that is so pure and sweet that it seems too fragile to survive the turbulent years of adolescence. Using tender prose that makes it hard not to care about the main characters, this title chronicles four years of high school and the confusing post-graduation period. At the end, when Nowlin reveals why Finny should have been with Autumn all along, readers are sure to feel the ache of life's capriciousness.-Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Finny and Autumn have been inseparable since before birth, when their mothers were best friends, pregnant, and living beside each other. As happens with too many friendships—especially boy-girl friendships—middle school takes its toll. Finny kisses Autumn, but Autumn is not ready for their relationship to change, and so the two part ways—he to the popular crowd and his girlfriend, Sylvie, and she to the weird but cool group and her boyfriend, Jamie. At weekly dinners, birthdays, and holidays with The Mothers, it’s a strained normal, until the summer before college, when Sylvie goes to Europe and Jamie breaks up with Autumn. This sweet, authentic love story depicts complex characters dealing with complex issues: single parents, divorce, only children yet ersatz siblings; high school, college, the pull of the clique; love, friendship, sex, and teen pregnancy. All are recounted through the eyes of budding writer Autumn. First-time author Nowlin keeps the story real and fast paced all the way until the last few devastating, though not unexpected, pages. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn
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Top customer reviews
Love this book. This will most likely be my favorite for the year. Laura Nowling just gets it. Everything is just completely brilliant in this novel. The characters are totally great and the story is heartbreaking and just so honest. "I want to savour this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again." She also totally gets being a reader. It always draws me into the book when the character is a big reader too.
Finn and Autumn were the best characters. I always wanted a friend like Finn. I wanted that kind of easy friendship where the line between two people is blurred. It was devastating to me to see them not together. I could feel the pull in Autumn's chest each time she saw Finn. Even though she was happy with her other friends and Jaime, she wasn't as happy as she could be. Her heart still wanted more. It crazy how such a small little thing could drive people apart without them even realizing why. A simple miscommunication and two lives are left incomplete. It's awful, but I'm sure it happens all the time.
Jaime was an okay character. I think I loved Finn too much to really give Jaime a chance. It seemed a little bit mean at times, but nothing too bad. He just wasn't a good fit for Autumn's eccentricity. Their little group seemed to function like any group of friends and they all seemed to work okay together.
The only bit that I wasn't crazy about is when we read Autumn's story that she wrote. She was supposedly this really wonderful author, but the story was fairly juvenile. It wasn't bad it was just kind of basic and plain.
This book is everything I want my realistic fiction to be. Just beautiful and honest. I knew how it was going to end early one, you kind of know from the first few pages. Regardless, you are still wishing and hoping that the outcome isn't what it seems to be. It was awful in a good way--in a I don't ever want this book to end kind of way. It made me laugh, it made me bawl my eyes out, it made my chest hurt and it made me close the book and immediately want to pick it up and start from the very beginning. It made me feel everything as if it was my own story.
"I wasn't with Finny on that August night, but my imagination has burned the scene in my mind so that it feels like a memory."
"No one is perfect."
"'I think we're supposed to experience as much beauty as we can.'"
"The icy wind burns through my gloves and my fingers ache until they fall numb and silent."
"I can feel them in my mouth like three smooth pebbles."
First of all, at 21 I am over the intended audience age for this book. I generally enjoy YA novels but my age my factor into why I was annoyed when reading parts of the book.
I love Finny, he is wonderful and I adore him. By far the best character in the book and maybe even one of my top 10 favorite characters ever.
But, Autumn almost ruined the book for me. It took me a long time to actually get into the book because she kept getting on my nerves. The way she talked about how she "loves" her boyfriend more when she's worried he may break up with her. And she's so clingy and just overall a really weak character. But, the more I read the more it reminded me of being back in high school and how things felt back then. I was able to get over her serious flaws because it felt authentic.
SPOILERS AHEAD. DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS.
The real reason it has taken me a week to write this review is because of the ending. It has taken this long to decide how I feel about it.
At the beginning of the book she basically tells you that finny dies. But, as is my custom, I read the last sentence of the book before starting it and the last sentence led me to believe that he may live. Imagine my disappointment at the outcome. I'm not against sad endings, in fact, I often love them. But this ending was completely unsatisfying. I hate the way he died, I think they should have at least gotten more than one day together. And I hate that she's so weak that she tries to kill herself because he died. Like, that is never the answer, it's just going to make everything harder on everyone else. The only part that was remotely satisfying was the baby, but that broke my heart all over again because Finny will never know it.
Overall, it was a good book and I would recommend it, if you can get past all of the annoying parts.
This novel was, without a doubt, one of the most real, honest portrayals of what it is like to be a teenager that I have ever read. It was so spot on in the dynamics between friends, "frenimies," and first loves that I was completely blown away. The author is a masterful writer of YA literature, and I bow down to her at how well she developed all of the characters and their intimate, intricate relationships. It was almost perfect.
Even though I was prepared for the ending, I still couldn't get over how abrupt it was and how much was left hanging. I thoroughly enjoyed this book up until the last few pages, and then I felt a massive let down. But the rest of the book was so perfect, so spot on in regard to teenage relationships, drama, and angst that I can forgive the abrupt ending. A thoroughly enjoyable read from someone who obviously knows the inner workings of teens' minds better than most. 4.5 stars