All We Left Behind

432p. Simon Pulse. Dec. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481437424. LC 2014036347.
Gr 10 Up—Marion Taylor and Kurt Medford couldn't be more different. Marion is introverted and studious, while Kurt is the playboy captain of the soccer team. Neither of them would ever have noticed the other until their paths cross unexpectedly at a party. During this brief tryst, the energy and connection between them is palpable but they both know it cannot last. Yet in the days and weeks following their meeting, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. Both Marion and Kurt harbor dark secrets that keep them from becoming close to anyone. Marion cannot stand to be touched and fears intimacy, while Kurt buries his pain through physical means. Before long they cannot deny their feelings, and they begin a passionate and at times confusing relationship. Soon the layers of their secrets begin to peel away, forcing them to face the demons they have both fled from. This novel is both haunting and poetic in its depiction of young love and human trauma. The chapters alternate between Marion's and Kurt's points of view, giving readers a chance to experience both sides of the story. Their experiences are woven together to create an emotional and at times raw story of pain, love, and acceptance. Sundberg does not shy away from darker topics such as sexual abuse, addiction, and abandonment. Through all the trauma, however, readers will find hope in the growth and love that both Marion and Kurt find in each other.
VERDICT A poetic and tumultuous tale of love and loss that will appeal to fans of both realistic fiction and romance.

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