Who I Was With Her is a gripping coming-of-age story about grief, guilt and learning to be honest with yourself. We meet the main character, Corinne, at the very moment that she learns that her girlfriend Maggie has died in a car crash as her word shatters. Since Corinne has never let anyone know that she’s bisexual and involved with Maggie, she’s completely lonely in her grief, and struggles with her loss as well as her regrets for never going public like Maggie wanted to. Going into this book I was so sure I was going to love it and expected to cry and get my heart totally broken for the main character. But sadly, even though I enjoyed this story a lot, I didn’t connect enough with Corinne for it to blow me away as much as I had hoped for.
This book was a raw and beautiful exploration of grief, the pressure of coming out and putting a label on yourself and learning to accept yourself. It also had some really great representation (I especially enjoyed Corinne’s friend Julia and the authentic and respectful way her struggle to understand why she wasn’t interested in sex like “everyone else” was described) and I really appreciated the way this novel explored how different coming out stories can be. But still, I felt like I kept waiting the whole book for it to start hurting, for something to happen that would break me, but that never came.
My main problem was that I didn’t connect with Corinne the way I had expected. One reason for this was that we get to know her when she’s experiencing the biggest loss in her life. The flashbacks to her past with Maggie helped, but I still feel that I didn’t really know or connect to the ‘real’ Corinne and she came across as a bit one-dimensional. But another reason was also that she felt so selfish at times. I understand that she feared coming out and didn’t want to do it for someone else’s sake. I fully agree with this, but I still feel that perhaps she could have dealt with things in another way. Especially when it comes to her best friend Julia, I feel that she didn’t treat her the way a true friend should. But on the other hand, I really thought it was problematic the way Maggie’s brother Dylan called Corinne a coward for not coming out and how Elissa put pressure on her and making ultimatums about not going back into the closet for her sake. I would have liked for the author to take a clearer position here, now the combination of these views and Corinne’s guilt for not coming out as Maggie wanted to risks conveying the wrong message to readers who might be questioning themselves and struggling with how and when and if to come out.
Another thing that I found problematic in the book was Corinne’s mother’s alcoholism and the irresponsible way her father brushed it off. Especially one scene when Corinne calls her dad for help when her mother has passed out drunk and he just puts all responsibility on his teenage daughter, made me so angry.
But overall, this was a beautiful and important book about grief and acceptance that I recommend anyone to read for the premise and representation. This novel address important issues that are always good to see more of in YA literature and I am definitely curious to read more of Nita Tyndall’s books ahead.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alwyn Hamilton Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Mackenzi Lee Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally M. Tasia Nancy Garden Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Yamile Saied Méndez