Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn author explores grief, unique perspectives in new novel

Brooklyn BookBeat

September 11, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Image courtesy of Sourcebooks
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In the last year, Ryden lost his girlfriend to cancer, gained a baby, became a high school senior and watched his soccer scholarship slowly slip away. He can barely weather his grief, much less his guilt. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would never have stopped chemo and she would still be alive.

Now he’s got baby Hope to care for, heartache over Meg and a million other worries. Overwhelmed with guilt, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s sexy and fun — and just what he needs but she doesn’t know he has a baby. But when Ryden finds one of Meg’s old journals, it stirs up old emotions and secrets; making the worlds he’s fought so hard to keep separate threaten to collide.

Ryden is convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life of teen fatherhood make sense, because Hope is “…more than just Meg’s legacy. She’s my daughter too.”  But  Ryden must come to terms with the past if he’s ever going to have a real future.   

“What You Left Behind” takes a unique approach to teen pregnancy, exploring both the male perspective and life after the baby arrives. It’s an intensely moving novel about cancer, grief and teen fatherhood, perfect for fans of John Green.

Author Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School.

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