Customer Reviews for

If He Had Been with Me

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

26 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

I've been dreading writing the review for this book. As soon as

I've been dreading writing the review for this book. As soon as I finished it, my biggest fear was HOW am I going to write my review for this? It's definitely difficult, but here I go. The main protagonist of this book, Autumn, is the awkward child. Autumn lives with he...
I've been dreading writing the review for this book. As soon as I finished it, my biggest fear was HOW am I going to write my review for this? It's definitely difficult, but here I go. The main protagonist of this book, Autumn, is the awkward child. Autumn lives with her mom, and her dad visits for holiday's and weekly dinners from time to time. Autumn's mother is best friends with their neighbor, and the two are mentioned as "The Mothers" throughout the book. Being neighbors all their lives, Autumn and Finn (Who Autumn calls Finny) were inseparable. They were born the same month and same year. Their mothers were best friends since childhood. They completely did everything together, and couldn't imagine being separated when they were kids. In middle school, they somehow started drifting apart. Finny became more of the chill, popular guy, while Autumn stayed as the awkward child. They each that their own "clique". What's funny is that Finny and Autumn families still celebrate every christmas, thanksgiving, and any other family event together. Talk about awwwkward... The Mothers definitely found it weird that Autumn and Finny wouldn't speak to each other at those events, but decided not to say anything about it. The thing is Finny was never mean to Autumn, and vice versa. It was SO hard for me to read about a friendship like theirs drifting away. As we read through the book, we're taken about 4 years back, before the accident. 
As I read on and on, my heart was LITERALLY breaking into pieces. The way Laura Nowlin was able to grasp a perfect reality such as this, was breathtaking. The simple yet important things friends did was what she spotlighted. I loved it. Despite the book being throughout high school, there were many flashbacks in order to explain to us how precious and important their friendship was. Reading on, I started to think of the fictional characters, as NON fictional. I just couldn't believe how real they felt to me, like they were a part of my personal life. Just thinking about them now makes me feel like I've lost two of my best friends. I think the thing that got to me was how sad it was to see such a friendship as theirs drift apart. I was crazy with questions like why, and who was the one at fault, and WHYYYY? I was seriously depressed at that point. I remember on page 264, I read that page about five times, bawling my eyes out. Not because it was sad, but no, it was such a simple yet beautiful page. I mean yes, it's still sad that they aren't good friends, but oh God, I don't even know how to explain it. 
The annoying thing is that while I was reading, I had his death at the back of my head. No, I didn't spoil anything, it's in the synopsis. Whenever I read something about Finny, I loved him more, and thinking that he was going to die just shattered my heart into pieces. I didn't even want to finish the book because of that reason. I start crying every time I remember that he dies, and I would keep hoping that maybe, just maybe, Laura Nowlin just wanted to trick us. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I'm still glad I finished the book, because in someways, it was happy. Like Autumn would say, death can be happy sometimes. I know, it might sound weird, but she's right. This book, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. It will always be a part of my heart, because to me it's not just a book, but more like a memory I want to treasure forever. I thank Laura Nowlin SO much for letting me find a treasure as great as this. The writing style for this book was just exquisite. I will definitely treasure it forever. There's also a quote that Autumn said, that just literally described my feelings for this book:
“This book is a treasure; I did not suspect it would be so good when I picked it up, but now I can feel the printed words seeping through my skin and into my veins, rushing to my heart and marking it forever. I want to savour this wonder, this happening of a loving 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 again” - If He Had Been With Me, Laura Nowlin

posted by majibookshelf on May 14, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

I really, really wanted to fall in love with this novel. It came

I really, really wanted to fall in love with this novel. It came off to a good start with the beautiful, poetic imagery of the opening scene. It's a dark contemporary, and I have a good dark contemporary. Especially if it makes me cry. Then it takes out out of the openi...
I really, really wanted to fall in love with this novel. It came off to a good start with the beautiful, poetic imagery of the opening scene. It's a dark contemporary, and I have a good dark contemporary. Especially if it makes me cry. Then it takes out out of the opening scene back into the past--all the way back to the beginining.
A lot of the backstory is needed to understand Finn and Autumn's relationship. However, I didn't want to go through all of high school with them when I already knew the outcome. (Finn's going to die. It's laid out clearly for us.) It was interesting at first to learn about their childhood, and I was curious about why they stopped hanging out together. Even if they fell into different social spheres in middle and high school, they have a long history of friendship that isn't easily overcome by social barriers. However, the story ends up stagnating and dragging on, and I skimmed much of the latter half of the story looking for answers that didn't come until the end of the novel.
What I'd been hoping to see was more of what happens to Autumn after Finn's death, or at least see their story closer to the time of his death instead of reliving high school with her. It might have been an interesting story, but Autumn is a hard-to-pin-down narrator. Much of the story seems to be summarized, as Autumn doesn't really let us get into her head. She keeps much of the important details about herself, her relationships, and her feelings bottled up within her. Finn is a more open character, and though Autumn is the one narrating the story, it's easier to understand him.
Overall, the beginning and the end are what made the story for me. While there was a lot of potential to the story as a whole, I wasn't able to relate to Autumn enough for the story to click with me, which is important in a story as character driven as this one is. Nevertheless, it is finding a fan-base, and readers who enjoy a contemporary tragic love story may enjoy this one.

posted by ImaginaryReads on June 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    Talk about tears

    Talk about tears! This book was so sad at the end nearly cried for an hour! If you want more tears and thrills, try "silver wolf." that story is truly amazing. The thrills, romance, ad suspense will have you at the end of your seat. I recomend it for 10 and up. TRULY AMAZING!!!!!!!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2013

    I enjoyed reading this book.  It was a page turner.  I didn't re

    I enjoyed reading this book.  It was a page turner.  I didn't read beforehand the age group this was intended for, but it was a good reminder of my high school years and all the stumbling blocks everyone faces.  I recommend this book for a quick weekend read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2014

    This book was beautifully written and I expect that a movie will

    This book was beautifully written and I expect that a movie will be made of it sooner or later.  I am an adult woman but felt the book really was written for  young adult readers of the Twilight genre.  It's been a long time since I've hd the teenage feelings that consume these characters.  The book remind me of Jodi Piccoult's Nineteen Minutes.  The boy loves the girl, but the girl  has moved beyond him with her friendships.  The endings were similar, although Piccoult's character is in prison after committing  a deadly school shooting.  Nineteen Minutes had me blubbering inconsolably at the end, while this story left  me just thinking "What a waste." 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    highly recommend

    I am an adult who enjoys ya fiction books. This one was as good as it gets.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    Decent

    The storyline was good, I remember losing my bf as we found different friends, but as luck would have it we got back in touch about ten years ago.
    Now this story though it resonates, it is extremely slow going, and if it is slow going for a mature ( yes my friends would laugh at any of us being considered mature) audience then it will be a lot harder to keep someone younger from just giving up

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Ending too short

    Great book but the ending was rushed. We need more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    "If He Had Been With Me" Book Review

    If he had been with me was an amazing book. It explained what can happen if you ignore your true feelings. The novel has suspense but is also full of heart-felt romance, sorrow and a little action here and there. And of course it has drama.
    Young Autumn and Finny have been together all their life, slowly growing apart during middle school to hardly talking to each other in highschool. They find their social groups and just move on. Finny starts dating Sylive as Autumn sparks a romance with Jamie. As Autumn walks us through her highschool life we learn about how depressed she is. Knowing she has feelings for another but still loving Jamie at the same time. But then Autumns friend Alex gets pregnant. This is when things start falling apart. Sasha who is Autumns best friend then stirs things up and causes Autumn heartbreak but also clarity. By having Sasha break Autumn and Jamie up, Autumn then realizes she is in-love with Finny, who may be in love with her. After a few weeks of Finny and Autumn hanging out day after day they finally admit their feelings and share a night together. But Finny still has to break things off with Sylive. One drive destroys Autumn forever. By losing the only person Autumn really loves, she is driven to madness, so she decides to end it all and join Finny once again. But her acts fail and Autumn is found almost dead. Waking up in a hospital and remembering everything. All the memories slowly coming back, the sorrow, the pain, and then the questions. Now Autumn discovers she may possibly be pregnant. She dreams of Alex's little girl playing with Autumns baby, moving in with her mother and working at a dinner. But the one thing that's missing is Finny but Autumn knows that a baby could stop her from ever trying to end things, and it may help her recover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Couldn't put it down

    Good read, bitter sweet ending

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    Highly recommended

    A great read not only for women but also for mature teens as well!! Found it hard to put down....sat all weekend and cried!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    My depression for days!

    This book honestly was fantasic. I absolutly loved it! I rate only 4 because I hate crying with a burning passion... I know it deserves better than this though. It is a Must-Read for everone. Oh God, I love Phineas Smith

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Great read

    Even though this book is more for young adults I really enjoyed it. It's a timeless love story that keeps you up late reading then makes you sad when it's over. Please read you won't be disapointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    Anonymous

    An easy read & defenitely a heart wrenching story. Although its geared towards a younger age group, it was well worth the buy!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2013

    Bored

    If anybody knows how to use lendme please write back.<3

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If the title and somber cover of IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME don't gi

    If the title and somber cover of IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME don't give it away, the summary and the first chapter of the book (See hook, at my blog) surely will: This isn't a straightforward happy story. The novel encompasses a range of emotions. If you're looking for a light-hearted read, this isn't the title for you right now. If you want something that resonates and makes you think after you've turned the last page, however, it may be the perfect choice.

    So much about IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME will resonate with readers. It centers around Autumn and Finn, two next-door-neighbors who have known one another since they were still in the womb. As children, they were the best of friends, completely inseparable. They grow apart in middle school as Autumn's popularity rises, then the reverse occurs in high school. Autumn and Finn now only speak when their families get together--and since their mothers are best friends, they still see each other weekly. Socially, however, they no longer understand one another's lives. IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME takes place over the course of four years as Autumn and Finn enter high school as freshmen and graduate as seniors. The story's core centers around their interaction, the way they go from hot to cold, from barely speaking to standing up for one another as needed. There are so many layers to their relationship, and readers will want to see these two former best friends repair bridges and burn the past.

    It's incredibly hard to talk without spoilers. There's an aura of mystery after reading the first chapter, and by the book's end, there are unexpected turns that will leave readers thinking after finishing the last page. There are so many what-ifs, so many ways for things to go, and watching events shape themselves is something readers will want to re-read immediately after finishing the book for the first time. It's easy to fall for Autumn, who is quirky and fun. She dyes her hair, wears tiaras, and bites her nails, falling out of favor with the popular girls she ran with in middle school, but she also has great, genuine friends now. She falls in with the other outcasts at school, and many readers will see themselves in her. The bond of friendship that links Autumn's crowd together reminds me so much of the way characters interacted in Stephanie Perkins' amazing ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (my review); if you've read that, you know the level of friendship I'm talking about. (And if not, that's your next reading assignment. Yes, despite the title...and the cover... Ready, go!) Friendship and fitting in (or not) is such an important part of high school, and the way Autumn balances this with all the history between her and Finn, not to mention her parents' crumbling marriage and a brush with depression, will really ensnare readers. There's something about Laura Nowlin's writing that reaches out and touches the heart in unexpected ways. It also has a more literary feel at times, perhaps because Autumn is a writer, and the way Nowlin meshes foreshadowing with Autumn's own quirks is a unique, captivating blend. I don't know what I was expecting when I initially picked this one up, but it wasn't the level of depth I found myself encountering. A strong debut from an author to watch!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin is a heartbreaking, tragi

    If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin is a heartbreaking, tragic story with a bittersweet ending that left me in tears and crying out “Why!!”.

    The story follows the lives of Finn and Autumn.  Best friends for as long as they can remember and who have lived next door to each other forever, and with mothers who have been best friends since they’ve been pregnant with them, their memories always involve each other and their happiness.

    If He Had Been With Me is told in the voice Autumn who is recalling the events of her and Finn’s lives leading up to a tragic incident that changes Autumn forever.

    But after travelling in different social circles in middle school, their strong band slowly comes apart and the friendship that they once had is but a memory.  But with the weekly dinners and the holidays that their families spend together they still find themselves spending some time together, though not at all what it used to be.

    Even though both she and Finn have found a significant other, Autumn still finds herself thinking of what life would have been like with Finn if some things were done differently.  If they had, in fact, ended up being together and exploring their relationship.  If He Had Been With Me shows the reality of high school and the inner workings of social cliques.

    And although Autumn is with Jamie, and Finn is with Sylvie, Autumn can’t help but think back on their past time together, and a small flame ignites inside of her where the reality of her feelings for Finn come to the surface, but is it too late for them?

    If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin was such a beautiful story to experience.  Yes, there are times where some of the writing was difficult to follow, as you progess through the story, that is long forgotten, and instead you find this heartfelt story that eats away at your very soul.  Just when you think that you can smile and enjoy a moment, something tragic happens and my emotions went on a crazy emotional rollercoaster ride.

    I found the fact that Autumn did her own thing and did not conform to “the norm” (whatever that is) in school fantastic.  The fact that she went to school every day wearing a tiara and not giving a crap what others thought was awesome.  And that she doesn’t give in to her boyfriend, Jamie’s pleas do have sex had me thrilled.  But with her strengths came some flaws.  I was annoyed to no end with how much she constantly begs Jamie to never leave her.  That she put so much reliance in him had me huffing and puffing.

    And you know that boy next door that you can’t help but fall for?  That would be Finn.  He is sweet, gently, caring, reliant, sexy, funny…I could go on.  In my head, Finn was the ultimate boyfriend that anyone would want to have, and any girl would be lucky to have.

    But such is life that these two characters veer off their path to each other, and so this book had me constantly wondering what would have been different had Finn been with Autumn.

    I you’re looking for a story that will leave you happy and content, If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin is probably not what you’re looking for.  If you’re looking for a read that will leave you heartbroken and emotional, and wishing that time could go back to make the outcome differently, then you definitely want to pick up a copy and check this one out.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 2, 2014

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