What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee is a fantastic book to add to high school classroom and school libraries. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy of this novel as part of a YA Blogger promotion from Simon & Schuster Canada. All opinions are my own, and I was not additionally compensated for this post beyond the complimentary novel.
What I Leave Behind features Will a sixteen-year-old boy with a lot on his mind. He lost his father to suicide a few years ago, so he starts walking to clear his mind. He spends his days in school, working and walking the streets around his neighbourhood. After his friend is raped at a party they both attended, he realizes life is not just about his own grief and starts trying to make small differences in other people’s lives.
This book was extremely engaging from the moment I opened it up. Will’s inner thoughts combined with David Bowie references made it enjoyable to read. The mature content and subject matter of this novel make it better suited to a high school classroom than a middle school one. With parent permission, mature 8th-grade students would enjoy this novel. The book is written in an easy to digest one paragraph per page format, which is ideal for reluctant readers. Get this book into the hands of your students and get them talking about topics that are important to them, but rarely discussed in a classroom setting.
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