If He Had Been With Me: Review
What if? How many times have we asked ourselves that question? If we had done one thing differently, could we have changed the outcome of something big? Something devastating? In this case, Autumn’s friend Finn has died, and she can’t help but wonder — if we had been together, would he have lived? Now, don’t worry. That’s no major spoiler. The blurb alone uses the phrase, “If he had been with me, he wouldn’t have died.” The point of the book is really for Autumn to reflect on she and Finn’s relationship through the years and how, if they had been together, things would have ended differently for him. It’s a story that, on the surface, I think many of us can relate to.
Again, I could relate to the story, but it seemed to kind of drag. Mainly, because I knew going into it that Finn died, so there was no surprise. I wanted to know what had happened between them before the accident, but before I could get that answer, I got a lot of backstory on Finn and Autumn. In all honesty, this was necessary to build the emotional foundation so we could feel what Autumn lost. The ending did make me feel something, but getting there was, at times, a bit laborious.
Since the plot is pretty basic, let’s move on to the characters. The story is told from Autumn’s first-person POV. I have to be honest here. I never fully connected with Autumn, and honestly, a lot of that had to do with the voice of the character. Something about it just felt a little off. She was your average outsider, even though she made it pretty clear in the beginning that she was pretty (and she couldn’t help it) and she was weird (and she couldn’t help it). For some reason I couldn’t get this out of my head. It felt like it was cemented there after she stated it in the beginning of the book, almost like an apology. I also felt that some of her actions were deliberately dumb — as in she made these decisions because she was supposed to be an outcast. I just didn’t really get her.
Finn, on the other hand, was more relatable to me — at least what I knew of him from Autumn’s perspective. He was a good guy and seemed pretty normal. He and Autumn were close growing up, and then in high school they kind of grew apart. Finn went the popular route and Autumn hung back with the outcasts. Finn had feelings for Autumn, and she him, but since they were in different circles, they never dated. Then, one night, something happens that sets into motion a chain of events leading to Finn’s death.
If He Had Been With Me, will definitely have an audience. It’s more of a character-driven book, and while I do enjoy that type of story, I just didn’t connect with Autumn, which left a bit of a void for me. If you like a tragic love story then you’ll definitely want to check this one out. For me, it was just okay.
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.