Book Review: Everything You Left Me by Paige Classey

Title: Everything You Left Me
Author: Paige Classey
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars
Publication Date: February 1, 2023
Purchase: Amazon

When the police come knocking at her door, Maybeth is worried her mother is caught up in their small town’s drug scene again. Instead, the police are there to question Maybeth about her beloved and long-absent father. He has become the lead suspect in a string of unsolved murders across the country…and Maybeth may be the key to convicting him. Trapped between her scientific mind and her love for her father, Maybeth is forced to confront the reality of who her father really is–and what that might make her as well.

Told entirely in verse, Everything You Left Me is the story of Maybeth, whose father left her and her mother about ten years ago. When the police come knocking at Maybeth’s door, asking questions about her father’s whereabouts, she starts digging and uncovers some unsettling news… Her father is the lead suspect in a string of unsolved murders.

Maybeth struggles with coming to terms with who her father really is or might be. Is he a serial killer? Did he ever really love her? And if he did commit these heinous crimes – what does that make her?

The story is heartbreaking. We get flashbacks of Maybeth recalling how her father gave her a pink bicycle for Christmas, intermixed with her loneliness in the present as she deals with an absentee father, workaholic mother (probably to be able to pay the bills, poor woman) and the unsettling knowledge her father might be a monster.

The fact that this was written in verse was interesting, but it also made me not feel as connected to the characters as I think I would’ve been if the story was told in regular prose. There’s a lot we, as readers, have to fill in ourselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it made the book slightly less powerful than I think it otherwise would have been. Not all the poems are as strong on their own either. Some sentences are delivered powerfully, are shattering, and other verses are just mere connectors between one scene and another.

Still, it is a fast and engrossing read, and a good take on this sensitive subject matter. Nature versus nurture, and how do we come to terms with finding out the reality about our parents?


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