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What Remains

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  86 reviews
In less than a second...
... two of the things Cal Ryan cares most about--a promising baseball career and Lizzie, one of his best friends--are gone forever.

In the hours that follow...
...Cal's damaged heart is replaced. But his life will never be the same.

Everyone expects him to pick up the pieces and move on.

But Lizzie is gone, and all that remains for Cal is an overwhelmin
Paperback, First Edition, 288 pages
Published May 8th 2015 by Flux
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  300 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Flux and NetGalley.)

“Everything changes,” I whisper into her hair which smells a little like paint thinner. “It won’t always be this hard.”

This was an interesting YA contemporary story about a boy who loses his best friend.

I felt quite sorry for Cal in this story; it was easy to see why he felt guilty over Lizzie’s death, even if it wasn’t really his fault, and to then find out what he found out was
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bulgarian review:

At first when i started this book i thought it would be really sad, but i'm glad i was wrong. Yes, 'What Remains' has its sad moments and thoughts but it gave me some happy feelings too. I overall really enjoyed reading it, it was different in its own way and i'm glad i got a chance to read it.
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
A love story of three friends. I wrote this book for all those who know their friends will always be with them, no matter what. Follow your heart.
Melissa (thereaderandthechef)
It's official. Helene Dunbar's books have become my go-to reads if I ever want to read something extraordinarily touching, heart-breaking and inspiring. Just like with the first book I read of her, These Gentle Wounds, What Remains came into my life to beautifully ruin my happy state of mind. It's been several days since I finished this book and I still cannot recover from it.

There's no point of me explaining the book's plot since the summary does a good job of it, but I will tell you that even
Brandi Kosiner
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Source: Flux via Netgalley free of charge for honest review
I wanted to read this one because I liked the sound of their friendship, and the story of loss.... of one of his best friends and the sport that was such a huge part of his life are ripped from him. The promise of soul searching and figuring out his identity without what he had based so much of himself on.

I did like that it started in a place before his loss, and I got to see the depth of his friendship with Lizzie and Spencer. Lizzie
*eARC kindly provided by Flux via NetGalley*
This is a pretty spoilery one!

An emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking, journey told all in one boy's POV. A guy who has two best friends but is ripped away from one of them forever. A boy who has to come to terms, not just with Lizzie's death, but with the beat of her heart in his chest. I found his journey to be full of growth and acceptance. But I have to say, I was a wee bit disappointed with the romance. I would have liked it if the author had ex
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like be Dunbar’s writing. It knocks you on your butt with shock and honesty. Cal is struggling through a massive sea of pain and confusion after his life changes in an instant.

Cal’s vulnerability makes him such a poignant character that shook me, as a reader. This book really explores the complicated path of grief and how it’s cyclical and not just a straight arrow to relief.

It’s a beautiful book.
Julie Shaul
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book What Remains is a story that is exciting, sad, and heartbreaking. The main character, Calvin (or Cal) Ryan, is a junior in high school. He has a promising career in baseball, and he could do anything he dreams of doing, even though his mom says sports are a hobby and not a good career. The book mainly follows Cal, but his two best friends, Lizzie and Spencer are also very important characters to the story. Spencer and Cal have spent their whole life taking care of Lizzie to make sure sh ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reviewed on my blog

I really enjoyed What Remains. I didn't really know what I was expecting but the journey the characters went on was fantastic and I wanted more of their story.

The Story

I haven't read a story about a heart transplant before and the effects it has on the recipient. But I found the concept really interesting and it really felt like the author has researched it really well. But this story is also about true friendship and Grief. I loved the
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-for-review
Thank you to NetGalley and Flux books for the advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cal, Spencer, and Lizzie have always been friends. The three juniors have their own interests (baseball, drama, and art) but look out for and support one another. Lizzie’s home life isn’t that great, with an apathetic mom and her creeper boyfriends, so Cal and Spencer are always available for late night rescues. After taking their SATs, the trio set out on a weekend getaway with C
Nina Rossing
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2015
Helene Dunbar is so good at writing different relationships! In her previous novel, "These Gentle Wounds", she was terrific at sibling relationships, and in this one she has a lovely portrayal of friendship between two boys and a girl, and also a sweet, quiet romance developing.
I thought the story was slow moving to start with (I like this if it pays off in the end), and the story truly grew on me. The latter half of it flew by, in a good way, convincing me that this book is a gem.
The character
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, ya, realistic, glbtq
Again pleasantly surprised. I wasn't going to pick this one up because I'm not big on baseball books, but I couldn't stop thinking of how interesting the heart transplant thing could be! I loved this one, especially the tension between Cal and Spencer after Lizzie's death. The friendship between Cal, Spencer, and Lizzie was unique and awesome. The ending tied up well and the closure was perfect after all of the emotions the reader experiences throughout the story.
Thanks NetGalley for the opportu
Heather Vaughn
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The character I can relate the most to is Lizzie. I had an alcoholic in my life growing up. I am glad that Spencer and Cal were there for Lizzie to help her when she needed it. Cal has been through loss in his life. I am glad that Cal is talking to Ally. I think she will be good for him. This book is well written. This book makes you wonder what will happen next. Give this book a try. I know I'm glad I did. ...more
Sarvenaz Tash
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, poetic writing tell a heart-wrenching story of loss and renewal. I love that the author took her time exploring all of the depths of the characters and the complexity of their feelings around a very complex situation and for each other. This was one of those books where I really had no idea where it was going to go next but felt like I was in very capable hands the whole time as the story unfolded.
Alisha Klapheke
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As usual, Helene Dunbar's storytelling leaves me breathless. This surprisingly twisty tale is achingly sad, but it lifted me up first here, then again, before finally pulling me out of the dark completely. Believable characters, humor, and a heart laid bare puts What Remains with my top picks for contemporary YA fiction. ...more
Christopher Tower
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Helene Dunbar has written a beautiful and poignant love story with a literally "heart-wrenching" twist. Her deft touch graces every page. Her characters are engaging and vibrant. The story is an emotional roller coaster, and it made me cry. It's a rich and captivating novel. ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very beautifully written story that can teach you how to love, to let go of things, be grateful for what you have and live life to the fullest! Loved every single bit of this book! ♡
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
"But I guess what remains after someone you love dies aren't the things you can reach out and touch. When you love someone, that love changes you for better or worse. So in a way, maybe they're never truly gone."

Wow, it was only towards the end of this story that Dunbar's prose really swept me away. I do truly enjoy her writing, but I can't say this one was quite as good as her first book, These Gentle Wounds, which was incredible.

I think my favourite thing about this book was being inside of C

Istyria book blog ~ B's world of enchanted books

You know that feeling when a book didn't blow your mind but you loved it nonetheless? That's what I have now. What Remains didn't blow my mind, it was nothing really new or original, but I still loved it quite a bit.

What Remains is about Cal. For as long as he remembers he's been friends with Spencer and Lizzie. He figures that won't change anytime soon. Until one day they get in a car accident. Suddenly Cal's life is changed forever. He has a new
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
To say that this book didn't go quite the way I expected it would be an understatement but the journey that we are taken on with Lizzie, Spencer, Cal, and Ally is truly beautiful.

This is a, I want to call it 'heart-breaking' and 'heart-warming' but you will see why those words sound a bit hollow when you read the book, I think a better way to say it is to say it is a soul warming and at times emotionally crushing book.

Cal is an all-American teen with dreams of baseball stardom, a crush on a bea
Beth Beth
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
What Remains by Helen Dunbar tackles the life of hard knocks and opens your eyes to the tragedy of a life taken way before its time. As Lizzie leaves Cal and Spencer on their own to face each new day, Cal's beating heart feels like its not entirely his own. A turn in the story, and a reality many transplant receivers feel, lucky to be alive causes guilt and survivor remorse. Cal feels like he failed Lizzie forgetting his childhood friend loved him and there was no one else she would've wanted mo ...more
D.G. Driver
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful book by Helene Dunbar. I had expected another tear-jerker like These Gentle Wounds, but this wasn't quite as heavy as that book. It dig tug at the heart, though, and I mean literally. I suffer from a health condition that makes my chest hurt all the time, so reading about this poor boy and his heart transplant affected me physically. The main thing about this book is the friendship between Cal, Spencer and Lizzie. It seems an unlikely friendship, and yet it's the oddness of it ...more
Jacqueline Wiscaver
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ages 14+
I put off reading this book for several weeks because I thought it was another depressing YA book about grief....and it was, yet it wasn't. I thought the friendship between a gay thespian, a baseball playing science geek, and a female artist unbelievable, yet it worked and was touching. I didn't want to like this book, yet it pulled me in and wouldn't let go until the end. I'm still not sure if Lizzie was really with Cal or if she was a manifestation of his guilt and grief. Whatever she was, she ...more
What Remains is a story of a teenager, Cal, who loses his baseball future and one of his two best friends in an accident. The story follows Cal as he tries to deal with the grief and guilt stemming from that accident. The writing keeps the story moving quickly, although I felt slightly detached from the characters a couple of times. Some characters are struggling with their sexual identity. In their exploration, they make some choices that don't fall into the typical stereotypes we see in books. ...more
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Beneath everything else that makes up a story, what readers want when they open a book is to be told the truth. From the very first line, "No ever calls in the middle of the night to tell you that you've won the lottery" this is what Helene Dunbar does with What Remains. The character of Cal Ryan is sincere in his struggles, honest in his pain and true, always, to his friends. This book was thought provoking, easy to read, and ultimately uplifting even in the face of tragedy. I am glad I was abl ...more
Read InAGarden
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cal has two best friends and lives to play baseball. But one night his world is shattered when he's the one driving when his car is hit and one of his best friends, Liz, is killed. Liz's mom decides to donate her heart to Cal to help Cal survive the accident but this leaves his baseball future in jeopardy. After recovering from the accident/surgery, Cal feels Liz inside of him and talking to him. He is haunted by her hopes and dreams but he must find a way to live for himself. ...more
Such a lovely book! This is a story of lasting friendship and working through grief--powerfully-written and tear-jerking, just like Helene's THESE GENTLE WOUNDS. It truly is a love story between three friends. Cal, Lizzie, and Spencer have such an interesting/awesome/unique friend dynamic, and their characters will stay with you. The book is worth reading for that alone, and yet there is so much else not to miss! ...more
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Cal, Spencer and Lizzie have been best friends since first grade; knowing each other’s moods, thoughts, likes and dislikes. Spencer and Cal have been protecting Lizzie from her abusive home life since she was a little girl, which has made them inseparable. Love binds them together. Read the rest of the review on my blog: https://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.... ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up randomly at the library and ended up really enjoying it - I love when that happens!

There are several twists in this book, including a huge one I should have seen coming but didn't, and I just loved every minute of it.

I'll definitely be on the lookout for more books from this author.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, own, arc, beta
I adore Helene Dunbar. Such unique writing, not that I expect anything less than stellar from Dunbar. I believe her sophomore novel is just as compelling and heart-wrenching as her debut. Don't think that she's done here. I expect much more from this author and honestly can not wait. ...more
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Called the "queen of heartbreaking prose" by Paste Magazine, Helene Dunbar is the author of WE ARE LOST AND FOUND (Sourcebooks, September 2019), which has been optioned for film by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's production company, Ill Kippers, and PRELUDE FOR LOST SOULS (August, 2020) as well as BOOMERANG, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, and WHAT REMAINS. Over the years, she's worked as a drama critic, journalist, ...more

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