WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING by Ashley Woodfolk
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WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING

Age Range: 13 - 18
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Relationships are complicated, but what happens when the bond that brought you solace unravels just when your parent’s marriage falls apart?

Cleo Baker wanders the streets of New York City, drowning her sorrows in jazz-age music and the words of Shakespeare as she mourns the loss of her best friend, Layla, a pain reminiscent of the grief felt for her late grandmother. It felt like fate when they met, and she thought it was in the stars for them to be together forever, but in sophomore year, Layla joined chorus and, over time, chose those girls over Cleo. Cleo was hurt but tried to give Layla her space…until she no longer recognizes her and instigates a vengeful feud. Now Cleo urgently wishes to overwrite the memories of their friendship, but that’s difficult when she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Feeling adrift, she works through the crumbling of her family, navigates a friendship that has grown apart, and learns to trust new friends and see them for who they are, not who she expects them to be. Told in the first person, Woodfolk's (The Beauty That Remains, 2018) novel seamlessly interweaves alternating timelines while making Shakespeare relevant to teens. The author skillfully voices the pain of unexpectedly losing a close friend and explores the choice to remain open despite the risk of future heartache. Cleo is black and Layla is Bengali.

A well-crafted story of resilience. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5247-1591-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020