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Things I'm Seeing Without You

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Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler has just dropped out of high school. She can barely function after learning of Jonah’s death. Jonah, the boy she’d traded banter with over texts and heartfelt e-mails.

Jonah, the first boy she'd told she loved and the first boy to say it back.

Jonah, the boy whose suicide she never saw coming.

Tess continues to write to Jonah, as a way of processing her grief and confusion. But for now she finds solace in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways: by helping her father with his new alternative funeral business, where his biggest client is . . . a prized racehorse?

As Tess’s involvement in her father’s business grows, both find comfort in the clients they serve and in each other. But love, loss, and life are so much more complicated than Tess ever thought. Especially after she receives a message that turns her life upside down.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published October 3, 2017

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Peter Bognanni

5 books170 followers

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 407 reviews
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
January 8, 2018
I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars.

"The morning after I dropped out of high school, I woke up before dawn in my father's empty house thinking about the slow death of the universe. It smelled like Old Spice and middle-aged sadness in the guest room, and this was probably at least part of the reason for my thoughts of total cosmic annihilation. The other part I blame on physics. The class I mean. Not the branch of science."

Tess has been in a downward spiral since Jonah died. She met Jonah at a party although he attended college in Boston. They spent time together one night (although she spent most of it puking and/or sleeping after drinking too much), and then began a long-distance relationship via text, chat, and email. Even though they kept talking about seeing each other again, Jonah always seemed to put off making plans, but still, Tess was content. More than content—she fell in love with him.

Can you sustain a relationship when you never see the other person? Tess and Jonah shared every thought, even inventing a game called "Things I'm seeing without you," where each person describes what they are seeing at that moment in time.

"At some point, I didn't know when, life had only started to feel real when I wrote to him about it. I was a better, funnier version of myself when I told him things. Life was manageable that way. My brain was manageable."

She had no idea Jonah suffered from depression, and was utterly unprepared for his suicide. In fact, she didn't even know what happened until she saw things people posted on his Facebook wall. Unable to cope, she dropped out of the Quaker high school she was attending in Iowa and decamped to her father's house in Minneapolis, where he has lived since her parents' divorce. She has no motivation to do anything, yet she continues to write to Jonah, and that gives her a little bit of comfort.

As she tries unsuccessfully to process Jonah's death and how it has affected her, she starts helping her father with his latest business venture, as a funeral planner who dabbles in animal funerals. (Don't ask about the exploding dog.) While she first sloughs it off as a joke, she starts becoming emotionally invested in helping their clients, realizing that giving a person a funeral how they want it to be is a much better gift than she'd imagine. It's the kind of closure that causes her even more emotional pain.

One day, Tess gets a message that completely knocks her for a loop. Suddenly her pain and sadness are mixed with anger, loss, and betrayal, and she doesn't know how to process these feelings. She doesn't know what to do or how to handle her feelings, which causes a great deal of tension between Tess, her father, and a rival funeral planner who is barely holding her own self together.

Can you mourn someone you might not have really known? How do you handle a loss that seems to utterly encompass you to the point where you're incapable of doing anything else? What is the proper way to say goodbye to someone you've loved? Peter Bognanni strives to answer those questions, as best as they really can be answered, in Things I'm Seeing Without You .

I first discovered Bognanni's writing when I read his amazing book, The House of Tomorrow . Some of the same emotion and angst that characterized that book is present here, as is Bognanni's talent for storytelling. There is a great deal of poignancy in this book, and some truly beautiful moments. The dialogue between Jonah and Tess, and even some of Tess' interactions with others, is clever and often funny, without being too precious or sophisticated.

My main challenge with the book is that Tess is a fairly unsympathetic character, even before she has a reason to be. That made it a little more difficult to feel her pain, because she was so mean to everyone else, even though that meanness was caused by grief. I understood why she felt the way she did, but she kept everyone at such an emotional remove. I also felt like it took a little too long to come to a conclusion—things dragged on a bit longer than I felt they needed to.

That being said, I was moved by Things I'm Seeing Without You , and it's made me think about life and relationships a little differently. Bognanni is such a great writer, and now I'll begin the wait for his next book!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, and see my list of the best books I read in 2017 at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
909 reviews13.8k followers
September 27, 2017
My grandma's library gave this to her for free and she passed it on to me, and I figured I would never read it because I haven't been a fan of YA contemporary for years, but I was pleasantly surprised! I picked this up because it said it would appeal to fans of I'll Give You The Sun, which is one of my favorite contemporaries of all time back when I read the genre a lot. I started this on a whim not knowing if I'd actually get into and if I should just pass it along, but the narrator and the tone of the novel sucked me in. It's a story about grief and recovery from losing someone close to you, which I can't relate to, but the main character struggled a lot from anxiety and depression and using humor as a coping mechanism, which is something I COULD relate to. There were passages in this that just made me stop and go, "Whoa. That's me." And that hasn't happened in a long time.

I loved the main character of this book, Tess. I thought her fight to overcome her grief was valiant, and her choices felt justified and fleshed out. Her personality was very take-no-bullshit, which I appreciated. It's about a girl who's mourning, but she's not just wallowing in her own self-pity.

The reason why I took a star off is because I was questioning how realistic it could be. For this to be my only complaint is a massive feat, though. It started out small with just bits of dialogue seeming pretentious and rude for a 17 year-old, a snarkiness that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Then, I began questioning some instalove aspects which I can't really go into without spoiling. Lastly, I think her road to recovery was a bit expedited, and I think a more defined explanation of her battle with mental health issues was needed, because in this book it seemed to recover pretty organically and I was hesitant at how plausible that would be after just a few weeks.

Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this. It made me laugh out loud at certain points, which rarely, RARELY happens.
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,563 followers
September 6, 2017
"The way I see it, we have a bunch of imperfect moments all lined up, one after the next, and we feel this strange, imperfect love. Then, before we know it, it's all over. We give everything we have, but that can never be enough to make things just the way we want them, or to keep someone with us as long as we'd like. But the struggle is worth something. And the love is worth something even though it's imperfect. And maybe we should try to celebrate this brief, incomplete thing we've been given. Maybe that's all we can do when we find ourselves in the dark."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,712 reviews2,239 followers
October 3, 2017

3.5 Stars

Tess Fowler is seventeen years old, and has recently fallen in love, for the first time, with a boy she met at a party. They’ve kept in touch since then until recently, when a week went by without a text message or any message at all. When she logs onto his facebook page she finds out that he is gone. Suicide.

"I'm scared of living my short short life wrong in every possible way. I'm scared I've already made so many mistakes and I don't have enough time to fix them."

She tries, but eventually trying becomes too much, too difficult to face people who know nothing of her pain, who expect too much, and she feels like she is failing everyone, including herself. And so, she makes a decision that changes everything.

”Dropping out of high school, as it turns out, is only mildly empowering. It is remarkably easy though.”

Her mother is off flitting about the world with her latest guy, so when she leaves her Quaker school, she figures that her only real option is to stay at her father’s house. She doesn’t have a very high opinion of him, either.

He slowly is taking in that his daughter has voluntarily come to stay with him, and rather than jinx it by asking too many questions, perhaps he asks too few. When he questions her about school, her snappy retort has him take a step back, and he thinks maybe she would learn more, for now, to help him in his latest business venture. Funeral planning.

With enough humour to balance the grieving, this is a story of first love, a story of losing someone you love before you ever got to really know them, a story of parental conflicts, depression, suicide, and the struggle for independence, the struggle to be heard as a person and not as a child.

Pub Date: 03 Oct 2017

I won this in a Goodreads giveaway! Many thanks for the ARC to the publisher!
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews702 followers
September 25, 2017
3.5 stars

I tend to stay away from angsty books, but I was sucked in by the pretty cover and the comparison to ATBP.

I liked Tess well enough. She has an interesting inner monologue and it took me some time to settle into her head space. I did enjoy the interactions between Tess and her father. The funerals are an effective way for Tess to examine what she’s going through.

Plot wise, there are things happening, but not really any momentum. At times it felt like the relationship with Jonah was sort of blown out of proportion. I’m not trying to discount her feelings, but I didn’t always see that Jonah was her boyfriend when it felt so casual.

I did struggle with this book in the beginning. For the first 50+ pages I wondered if the weird {and maybe sort of cringy} feeling I had was because a male author was writing a female teenager. But then Something Happens — it is referenced in the synopsis about Tess getting a message — and it was that occurrence that turned it around for me. I quickly became invested in the outcome.

And yes, I know I’m being vague and that this review doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’ve typed and deleted several things over and over again.

Overall, it grabbed me in a way I wasn’t expecting and I really enjoyed the journey.

**Huge thanks to Dial Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Joce (squibblesreads).
230 reviews4,925 followers
December 9, 2017
DNF. Underdeveloped and writing style had no specificity to it. You can really say so much by using the right specific verb at the right time and the word choices seemed so vague across the board which elicited way less emotion that I needed this to. I would read two paragraphs and they would add absolutely nothing in terms of tone, volume, plot, character arc. And it wasn’t a “quiet” book in style that I usually enjoy. It was just off. The author also didn’t seem to have a character sketch of our protagonist and the characterization seemed... off and never really took shape? I read this at a time when I was grieving myself and I DNFed it, feeling more irritated than empathized with.
Profile Image for MaryJane.
307 reviews75 followers
October 23, 2017
I won an ARC of this book from the publisher through a GR giveaway which has in no way impacted my review.
BR with Rosaline!

I have a lot of mixed feelings towards this story. This a story that packs a really important message. It deals with a lot of difficult topics including grief, love, loss, depression and finding who you are and who you want to be. And because of that, this book is important. All of those mentioned topics are handled really well, in a way that is respectful to the characters and any readers who may have dealt with something similar.

The descriptions of pain and grief, of living with depression, and of figuring out who you are after dealing with something traumatic, are all incredibly spot on. The descriptions made me, and I believe they will make other readers, feel something. The writing was beautiful, and accurately described some of the emotions that people would feel if they were in a similar situation or in a similar place emotionally/mentally to these characters. While I’m on the topic of the descriptions I feel like I should mention that the writing is great across the board, the author doesn’t just nail emotional descriptions, he also creates beautiful imagery throughout the story that makes it so easy to visualize everything that is going on. The characters feel real, and I think I would be saying that even if it wasn’t for how easy it was to connect with them emotionally.

One thing that really surprised me about this story was the content of it. While dealing with so many difficult things and so much emotional representation, this book was also just super sweet and super funny. While I was reading the book, I first thought that the author bit off more than he could chew. I liked so many different aspects of this story individually and was struggling to understand how everything would fit together without feeling completely tacky. Thankfully at the end of the novel everything comes together really well, and it just becomes a relatively accurate representation of how sometimes life has a funny way of working out exactly how you need it too. And I just want to stress that this isn’t even done in a conventional/obvious way that frequently happens in books where everything all works out. It’s messy, and weird, and a little confusing but most importantly it just all feels so natural when it all falls into place. Part of me wants to say that the real life aspect of this book was distracting from what could have been a more detailed journey of the mental/emotional effects of dealing with the things dealt with in this book, but I think that was just my own personal preference, because I’m not sure that was the point of this story. BUT that being said some of the deep introspective parts of this book that resonated with me felt out of place due to the light tone of things going on despite what the MC was dealing with. It was just a weird balance of the two, it managed to feel accurate and inaccurate at the same time.

My only issue with the story was the love aspect of it. I really cannot go into details without spoiling anything, so despite my best attempts at a spoiler free review, I’ll have to put this section under a spoiler tag.

Overall this is a pretty good story with a pretty good message. I think it’s worth it for anyone to read and form their own opinion on. There is a lot to like and respect here, and after reading this novel I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out to see if the author has any other stories planned.
Profile Image for laur gluchie.
300 reviews134 followers
March 2, 2023
I have received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book through a giveaway hosted by the publisher. This has not affected my rating or review in any way.

No plot, one-dimensional characters, and an unsatisfying ending.


Don't waste your time on this one, folks. For a book with a better, well-written plot and a hilarious main character that could knock Tess out of the park, I suggest Firecracker by David Iserson.
Profile Image for Bruna Miranda.
Author 6 books768 followers
September 5, 2017
**I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review**

"I'm scared that I don't matter, even a little bit, and that no one matters and nothing matters. I'm scared that it all matters and I'm fucking it up. I'm scared of living my short short life wrong in every possible way. I'm scared I've already made so many mistakes and I don't have enough time to fix them."

3,5 - Tess Fowler just lost her boyfriend. Her online boyfriend. They've met a few months back in a house party and stayed in touch and had plans to be together IRL. However, after a week without hearing from Jonah she finds out through his Facebook page he's committed suicide.

In shock, Tess drops out of high school to live with her dad - who's now running a funeral business after many unsuccessful attempts. Not long after she receives a message. From Jonah's profile.

First things first: the writing is beautiful and catchy. It was a bit faster than I expected - sometimes the story advanced a lot in a few paragraphs, however it didn't feel rushed, only a different pace than I expected.

I really enjoyed how the author tried to show all the stages of grief and how many different ways we can deal with death. To some, it's natural and should be seen as such with grace (hence the character's name, I assume), others just can't handle it. As someone who has a lot of issues talking about death, I felt acknowledged and comfortable enough to keep reading.

At first, how Daniel comes into the story seemed too weird and unrealistic - his connection with Jonah/Tess is still a bit odd to me, but maybe it's just my lack of awareness of how many ways you can love someone. I feel that Things I'm Seeing Without You is about death, of course, but about love: how do you love someone after they're gone? Should you stop or is there a way to keep that love true?

I really, really liked Tess. She's sarcastic and unapologetic as I would expect - I particularly enjoyed seeing her being "overly" sarcastic in some situations because that's her comfort zone and trying to sound "funny" was a mechanism of trying to go back to that. Despite of how he entered the story, I feel more connected to Daniel than Jonah. Even though he (Jonah) is a major part of it all, most of what we see is other people's opinions on him.

As someone dealing with depression and other mental health issues, I did have some concerns about a comment or another that I'll probably go back and forth if I'm okay with it or not, but I see why they were there and why the author chose to portrait all of it to create a bigger picture.

What kept me from giving it a higher rating: the last 30% of the novel seemed a bit rushed - now it wasn't just the writing. The events happened so fast I found myself going back to check if I was caught in it all. Even though explained within the story, it was a tad unrealistic.

Yes, I would recommend it to whoever enjoys sick-lits, a good writing style, and a new perceptive on death and mourning. :)
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,163 reviews1,300 followers
March 26, 2021
Full Review on The Candid Cover

I wasn’t really sure what I was going into when I first heard about Things I’m Seeing Without You. It is about a girl who loses her boyfriend to suicide, and the main character has an entertaining personality. But what really drew me in was the alternative funeral business. It makes the story a little bit lighter and glances out the sadness of the story. I really enjoyed this one, and I found it to be a unique approach to the grieving process.

This book tells the story of a girl recovering from the suicide of her boyfriend. Their relationship was mostly online, so she logs in and writes to him even though he will never be able to respond. Through her messages, she makes some shocking discoveries about Jonah’s true identity, and even meets someone new. Tess also starts working for her father at his unique funeral business, which helps her cope with her grief. I really enjoyed reading about the business and Tess’s experiences planning unconventional funerals that are more entertaining. This book may seem depressing, but you’ll actually find yourself laughing out loud.

Tess’s character really lights the mood of this story. She is a high school dropout with a sarcastic and witty attitude. The way she acts and deals with her grief is realistic and believable for someone her age. However, you can tell that she was written by a male author. Tess is easy to sympathize with, and the fact that she loses her first boyfriend is so heartbreaking. She really transforms throughout the book as she moves on, and it is so touching to read.

This story is actually pretty funny for a book that is about grief. I really enjoyed the way topics like death are handled and balanced out with humour so that the story isn’t all sad. The funeral business provides a lot of comic relief and introduces some quirky characters. Things I’m Seeing Without You really has a unique take on the grieving process, and I would definitely recommend it to those in the mood for a heavier read.

Things I’m Seeing Without You is a heart-wrenching story about a girl moving on from the death of her first boyfriend. The main character is so real, and her sarcasm brings some humour to the book. This book really blends humour and sorrow, so it isn’t actually as depressing as I had anticipated.
Profile Image for Alexis The Nerdy Bruja .
719 reviews83 followers
November 5, 2017
3/5 stars

I enjoyed this book more than I though I was going to. I really don't have much to say. It was an easy read. I will say I found myself slightly druses with the main character at times, but outside of that i liked it well enough.
Profile Image for Lena.
42 reviews101 followers
August 12, 2017
If this novel is anything it’s honest.

Peter Bognanni takes the pain and heartache of losing someone and packages it into a 300-or-so page story that is at once aching, blunt, and—surprisingly enough—funny.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been sleeping on this review for a week or so because I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel—in fact, I picked it up at an extremely appropriate time because I had just lost my dog. This year for me has been a valuable lesson in dealing with loss, not just of my dog but also of my grandpa. And, as my mom so astutely pointed out, death isn’t hard for the ones who are leaving; it’s hard for the ones who are left behind.

This is what Things I’m Seeing Without You is about: the confusion and anguish of being left behind.

So, I’m fortunate in that my lesson in loss and grief came quite late because it happens much earlier for other people. For seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler, the unfathomable death of her boyfriend, Jonah, ruptures her knowable reality. As she begins to process her grief, the aching Tess Fowler we meet at the beginning of the novel, who contemplates such cosmic affairs as the slow death of the universe, must figure out how to make the universe a bearable place again.

Bognanni manages to capture, in simple descriptions, the most intricate of feelings with such honesty (I’m thinking of a particular instance involving starlings) that it’s almost a blessing we have nothing but images to express the inexpressible.

The magic that the novel has tapped into is what I consider the kernel of Young Adult literature. Someone like Tess Fowler is a rich subject for exploring these evocative human experiences because, as a teenager on the cusp of independence, she is so incredibly vulnerable. Her grief is compounded by her innocence. Roberta Seelinger Trites, a prominent YA scholar, argues the purpose of death in YA literature is twofold: it endows the protagonist with experience, and it exposes their agency as finite for death is the ultimate authority figure.

That is the hard truth of growing up, I guess—realizing we aren’t universally powerful. Even so, we are not without agency. That is perhaps the most important lesson Bognanni can impart: the cosmic heartache of one’s first experience with loss can, in fact, be remedied with small actions, one day at a time.

For a novel so wrapped up in death, Bognanni still finds the time to breathe joy and humour into the story. Sorrow does not come without hope, and with that hope an inkling of certainty that even those who are left behind will eventually find solace and be okay. Things I’m Seeing Without You is ultimately as much about death as it is about being alive.

*I received an ARC during a visit to Penguin Random House.*

[For more reviews, please visit my blog]
Profile Image for Kathi.
425 reviews4 followers
May 2, 2017
Didn't address the heavy subjects, just kind of swept them to the side. The characters were all whiny and annoying and the story was like every other YA book out there.
Profile Image for frau.gedankenreich.
211 reviews69 followers
February 4, 2018
"In einer Film-Version dieser Szene hätten wir jetzt wild rumgeknutscht. Und wären eng umschlungen aufgewacht wie die Jugendlichen in dem alten Romeo-und-Julia-Film von Zeffirelli, den wir im Englischunterricht angeschaut hatten. Aber das hier war nicht Shakespeare. Und wir waren nicht in Verona. Wir lagen in Iowa auf einem Pseudo-Bauernhof voller Alkoholleichen.
Und so wachte ich am nächsten Nachmittag stattdessen mit einem entsetzlichen Kater auf. Mich erwarteten ein Riesenhaufen Ärger und ein Tankbeleg mit einer E-Mail-Adresse und einer kurzen Nachricht darauf: Boston ist weit weg. Das Internet nicht" [S. 28]


Als Tess und Jonah sich auf einer Studentenparty kennenlernen, funkt es sofort zwischen den Beiden, doch da Jonah in einem anderen Bundesstaat studiert, bleibt ihnen nichts anderes übrig, als ihren Kontakt auf Chats, Facebook, E-Mails etc. zu beschränken. Als Jonah sich aus heiterem Himmel das Leben nimmt, bricht für Tess eine Welt zusammen und sie zieht sich völlig vom Leben zurück. Um mit dem Verlust besser umgehen zu können, schreibt sie Jonah weiterhin, auch wenn sie weiß, dass sie niemals eine Antwort von ihm erhalten wird. Doch eines Tages passiert genau das..

"Das bin ich.
.... Wer?
Das fehlende Mädchen auf dem Foto.
Das Mädchen, das nicht da ist." [S. 196]

Meine Meinung:

Oje, das war holprig...
Eigentlich weiß ich gar nicht so recht, wie ich anfangen soll, denn es gibt leider kaum etwas Positives, was ich über dieses Buch sagen könnte. Mir hat weder die Richtung gefallen, in die sich alles entwickelt hat, noch mochte ich unsere Hauptprotagonistin Tess und auch die Nebencharaktere waren alle so sinnfrei in die Geschichte eingearbeitet, dass man sie in meinen Augen größtenteils gut hätte weglassen können. Meine Probleme mit Tess gingen schon damit los, dass Peter Bognanni es nicht geschafft hat, sie wie ein 17-jähriges Mädchen klingen zu lassen. Ihren Sarkasmus und ihre schnippische Art hätte ich gemocht, wenn der Autor es verstanden hätte, mir Tess begreiflich zu machen; bis zum Schluss hatte ich kein klares Bild von ihr und so fiel es mir die meiste Zeit über schwer, mit ihr mitzufühlen, sie nachzuvollziehen oder schlimmer noch, sie überhaupt ernst zu nehmen. Das galt aber nicht nur für Tess sondern für eigentlich jeden Charakter, der in diesem Buch eine Rolle spielt. Komischerweise fand ich Jonah im Vergleich noch am greifbarsten und das obwohl der nur in Erinnerungsfetzen o.a. eine Rolle spielt. Evtl. hat es etwas damit zu tun, dass der Autor selbst einen Internet-Freund gehabt hat, der sich das Leben genommen hat? Vielleicht fiel es ihm leichter, Jonah echter erscheinen zu lassen, weil es ihn irgendwo persönlich betroffen hat..

"Warum sollte jemand, der tot ist, seine Zeit damit verbringen, die Lebenden zu beobachten? Wenn es ein Leben nach dem Tod gibt, muss es dort doch interessantere Dinge geben." [S. 210]

Auch wenn der Klappentext etwas anderes vermuten lässt, so ist das zentrale Thema dieses Buches nicht die Beziehung zwischen Jonah und Tess. Es geht primär um den Umgang mit dem Tod ansich; wie man mit ihm fertig wird und den Verlust eines geliebten Menschen verarbeitet. Die Art wie der Autor mit dem Thema umgeht, hat mir allerdings auch wieder nur stellenweise gefallen, denn es gelingt ihm einfach nicht, die Dinge gezielt und im richtigen Maße einzusetzen. Ich musste die ganze Zeit an einen Song denken, indem eine bestimmte Textzeile bis zum Erbrechen wiederholt wird. Beim ersten Hören ist man noch ganz angetan, beim gefühlt zwanzigsten Mal möchte man am liebsten mit dem Kopf gegen die Wand rennen. Gut, ganz so schlimm war es hier dann zwar nicht, aber im Grunde genommen beschreibt es das Problem, was ich mit diesem Buch hatte, ziemlich gut. Es hätte so viel Wichtigeres gegeben über das Peter Bognanni hätte schreiben können, stattdessen reiht sich Fragwürdiges an Sinnloses usw.

"Finde heraus, was du willst. Finde heraus, was du nicht willst. Mach Fehler. Lass dir nochmal das Herz brechen. Und versuche, dich dabei anständig zuverhalten. Sow ird daraus ein Leben." [S. 259]


Es ist nicht so, dass das Buch grottenschlecht wäre, denn es gab schon kurze Momente in diesem Buch, die mich berührt und mir gezeigt haben, dass ein großartiger Schriftsteller in Peter Bognanni schlummert. Es gibt Stellen in diesem Buch, die ich geliebt habe, weil so viel Bedeutungsvolles zwischen ganz wenigen Zeilen mitschwang.
Vielleicht liegt darin ja das eigentliche Talent des Autors. Manchmal ist weniger eben doch mehr..
Profile Image for Madison.
1,065 reviews59 followers
July 9, 2017
This novel takes all the sadness and numbing grief of losing someone and presents it in such an upfront and honest way. Picturesque scenery, dry whit in the midst of heartbreak, broken families trying to heal and help in the only way they can, new beginnings, living funerals, dogs in rocket ships, and love - Things I'm Seeing Without You is brutal and beautiful. How is it that I spent so much time laughing while reading this book when it made me want to cry? Amazing.

Tess Fowler has dropped out of school in the wake of her boyfriend's suicide, her grief and depression overwhelming. Sure, she only met Jonah once but all their online conversations in the past months were no less real or effecting than any face-to-face relationship. She loved him and his death has left her shaken. With nowhere else to go, she turns up on her father's doorstep. In the following weeks, Tess begins to help her father run his funeral business and meets new people who change her life in ways she never saw coming.

Tess is a wonderful narrator. Her voice is unique, she is blunt, honest, has a fantastic whit and all her emotions come so clearly from the page. From her throwing her computer and then herself into a freezing lake, to her ongoing internal communication with Jonah, her fractured but healing relationship with her father, and her bluntness and upfront way of approaching her new relationship with Daniel, I never questioned her feelings - it was all so real and authentic and complicated.

Daniel enters Tess' life in rather a surprising way. It doesn't explain how in the book's synopsis and so I won't give spoilers here because I found it a huge surprise, something I totally didn't see coming, but which yet adds another layer to this already complex and well-thought out novel.

Like so many wonderful books these days, Things I'm Seeing Without You raises several themes that are so vital for YA literature - suicide, grief and the grieving process, family breakdown, depression, death, and online relationships. These are all handled with such brutal honesty and careful consideration in this book. Combined with a sense of humour and scenes so crazy they were hilarious, Things I'm Seeing Without You is a powerful book, heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library.
Profile Image for Genna.
61 reviews
June 9, 2017
There is so much joy, humor, and honesty woven in here, a book ultimately about death and grief. Upon learning about the death of Jonah, her internet boyfriend, Tess Fowler walked out of her high school, determined never to return there again. Tess attempts to find solace for the boy she loved—a boy she only met once and realizes now she barely knew—but she doesn’t know how to even begin grieving for him. So she returns to her father’s house, where she helps him with his newfound business of providing alternative-style funeral services. These services celebrate life instead of mourn death. Tess comes to know Jonah—and ultimately herself—and this novel is at once heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting. The characters are flawed and nuanced (in the best way), the story is engaging, and the language is stylistically beautiful.
Profile Image for Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.).
401 reviews427 followers
September 28, 2017

I want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers Group for providing me with this copy in exchange for an honest review

This is a book with a very deep meaning, the way in which they have touched on a subject as delicate as death in general, whether of a loved one or of other people, and how it explores the different ways in which the you can live the loss, from the suffering, the negation, until the acceptance, was touched with some humor but above all with much respect and I liked that


3/5 Stars

You can find this one and more of my reviews on my blog A Book. A Thought.

The book follows the Tess life after the suicide of her boyfriend Jonah, with whom he had a relationship mostly online, through messages through facebook. We will see how this event affects her life and changes it completely, leading her to make very difficult and important decisions for her. In the midst of all this she will meet Daniel, Jonah's roommate who also tries to fill the void which has remained because of Jonah's death. Together they will try to overcome this loss in their lives and their union will lead them on an adventure in search of answers.

Before reading the book, I supposed it would be very sentimental, especially since it touches on a super delicate subject like suicide and all that this means for the people around it, and it was, but not as much as I expected.
It's a reading that has a much deeper meaning than it shows, even so, as you go through the plot you'll find yourself in the same way with very funny moments, as painful, which makes it very easy and light to read, I think the humor inside the book has been handled in a very intelligent way, it has made me laugh but I've never forgotten the main theme, it was certainly a deep reading but also fresh and fun, although it hasn't managed to reach me as strongly as I expected it did


I didn't feel committed to the story at the beginning I have to say that I was able to hook me up with the plot roughly about in the half of the book, this doesn't mean that the beginning was bad, but personally I felt that Tess's speedy decisions took the plot to another place, and I wasn't very interested but after that the plot returned to focus on the subject that interested me more, that was the relationship between Jonah and Tess, I really liked knowing the details of how they met to then understand the Tess's feelings better, because to be honest it was hard for me to understand how she was so shattered for someone she had only seen once, but then I managed to understand how the whole thing happened.

Tess is a very peculiar and different character, at first I was like "I can't stand this girl", this is because her personality is quite bad-tempered and she's not afraid to say what she thinks without any filter, or make decisions totally without thinking about the consequences of it. I think that in a way she is still very immature, but in the end there were moments when I could see her as a more empathic and sensitive person and I liked that a lot, so I decided to give this character a chance after all. Her relationship with his father is at first quite problematic and I think her reasons for not trusting him were quite valid, and it was very interesting to see how their relationship develops from everything that happens and as Tess allows herself to open up to her father in spite of their differences, besides the Tess's father really commits himself to her, and to be able to see that was of great value

I feel that my review probably isn't giving much information, but I feel that the book is very abstract in a certain way, and I don't want to give more details and feel that then I make spoilers or you will not feel surprised once you read it. I feel it's a very modern story about how to deal with loss and how in the way, you learn about yourself and those around you, how to learn to forgive, to heal and to accept and I think that is the most important thing I can tell you about the book. Oh and during the book they travel to Sicily, and I looked for the landscapes in Google lol, and it's a beautiful place, I haven't seen such an incredible place ever in a book which is great


To be honest, I expected more from the book, I think I've get into it with alot of expectations and for some reason I thought I would get more from it , this doesn't mean that it's a bad book, I just had some problems with the characters and especially with the final that although I feel it was nice, I expected something more.

Even so it's something that you could enjoy if you're looking for a quick reading, that touches a subject such as the loss, with a very peculiar main character. In summary, I still recommend it, 3 stars is a good rating for me, and I feel that in the end with everything the book has left me is the rating it deserves

Profile Image for Amy.
310 reviews15 followers
May 8, 2018
This YA fiction novel is a quick and enjoyable read that explores the ideas of online life after death and alternatives to traditional funerals/burials. For the record,my religious upbringing makes me feel like I should be buried in a box but in my wildest death fantasies, I’d be made into one of those coral starter-kits that are put in the ocean. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google ‘Eternal Reef.’

This is also a love story and an exploration of the teenage self as an individual. I am almost 40 and still enjoy reading about that. I also learned that there are cacti in Sicily. Who knew?!
Profile Image for Emma.
Author 2 books73 followers
September 23, 2017
Grade: D
An ARC was provided by Read Between the Lynes in exchange for an honest review.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Suicide books are always shaky ground, but they can be done well. Things I'm Seeing Without You is not one of those. The only reason I finished it is because I didn't want to DNF it.
There seems to be this problem of male authors writing female protagonists...that don't sound female at all. Tess did not sound like a girl. She sounded like a blank slate mixed with a guy. She didn't make good choices, and her parents were just absentee enough and permissive enough that she got away with a lot.
The whole thing with Jonah was confusing. The timeline felt weird, and I wasn't sure what was true and what wasn't.
The plotline with Grace wasn't that great either. She felt shoehorned in at times and super obnoxious, and I needed the only other female presence in the book to not be someone I wanted gone.
A lot of the plot that I had issues with are spoilers, so keep reading if you want to be spoiled.

There's foul language, drug use, and underage drinking. There's a description of a naked picture, and there's fade-to-black sex.

The Verdict: Not worth your time. I don't know why I haven't given up completely yet on YA books written by guys with female protagonists.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,286 reviews216 followers
April 19, 2018

I feel catfished by THINGS I’M SEEING WITHOUT YOU, because unlike the blurb leads you to believe, is Tess isn’t grieving the suicide of her boyfriend Jonah, she just thinks she is. And he wasn’t really her boyfriend, he was a guy she met once briefly and then continued an online relationship. Except Jonah wasn’t really Jonah, he was Daniel pretending to be Jonah. Nobody actually died. How cruel. I love a good mindfuck by Peter Bognanni took it too far manipulating readers to believe this was a story of suicide and recovery for a loved one. Suicide is too serious to use in this way.

THINGS I’M SEEING WITHOUT YOU isn’t completely awful. Bognanni has a creative way of stringing together clever words in a very readable manner. I didn’t feel like Tess’s narration came from a teenage girl. Some writers can pen opposite sex voice and tenor with near perfect authenticity, others give their gender away.

If you decide to read THINGS I’M SEEING WITHOUT YOU, know you’re reading a catfish story (though Tess’s grief is real).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kelli Spear.
519 reviews63 followers
August 25, 2017
This started out so goooooood...and then it hit a wall.

I'm hardcore into sad books. It's a bit morbid, but I really enjoy those stories in which someone completely broken is able to overcome and triumph over their grief. Not that they've forgotten the lost person, but that they found a way to deal and LIVE. And that's what I was hoping for here. It starts out perfectly, but somewhere along the way, I don't know...it took a detour and just never got back on track.

Tess was an odd character. She was absolutely distraught over the suicide of her boyfriend, Jonah. Or, kind of boyfriend I guess. Their relationship was strange to me. Based on one night of in-person interaction and months of internet chatting, I just struggled to FEEL it. It's harder for me to connect when we never really got to know him. So as sad as his loss should have felt, I never got to that point. There are scenes in the book that tried to pull it off, but again, as the reader, I am getting more of others' views and not enough 'firsthand.' And watching Tess struggle should have made me feel something. I enjoyed her in the beginning. Leaving school, remembering things about Jonah, etc. But then, the truth comes out and the entire story is flipped upside down.

Enter Daniel. Jonah's roommate. As they begin to talk and truths are uncovered, I began to lose interest.

This is combined with her weird relationship with her parents (divorced). It just didn't gel. Girl is basically on her own, and when she runs away (and TO her father), it's almost treated like no big deal. He just tells her she's to work with him in his bizarre business...okaaaayyyyyyy. Like, what? GET HER BACK IN SCHOOL. OR THERAPY. SOMETHING.

Anyhow, Tess and Daniel bond over their shared love for and loss of Jonah. Things get a bit unrealistic here, in my opinion. I won't spoil it, but yeah, I just wasn't buying it. I don't know if I wanted more of the grieving process and reliving of her relationship with Jonah, or what exactly. But something is just off. The introduction of Daniel should probably feel organic and initially it's a "holy crap" moment. And I get their bond to some extent, however, I think I'd have stayed angry for far longer than Tess did.

To sum up, this book is readable, but not something I'd be able to read over and over. I didn't connect with any characters and felt like the plot lost steam about 25% in. By that point I was just reading to see where the author was taking it—and if he'd whip out a HEA. Decent story, but there are better options for these important topics.
Profile Image for Katy (Katyslibrary).
141 reviews17 followers
September 30, 2017
Thank you so much Penguin Teen for sending this book to me in exchange for an honest review. 

I was incredibly excited for this book.  As someone who suffers from severe depression I like to read books that focus on mental illness or have story lines relating to it.  I went into this book expecting something completely different from what it ended up being.  Unfortunately, after some thought, I was mostly just disappointed in a book that had great potential.

The writing is easy enough to get into right away and I read this book in only a couple of hours.  At times I did find myself laughing and enjoying main character Tess and her "give-no-craps" attitude.  I did enjoy the relationship that developed between Tess and her father.  While her father had his own set of issues and was far from being a great dad he started to get his act together more through out the book.  By the end it was obvious they really helped each other grow.  Also, the idea of them doing unique funerals was really special.  Celebrating the life of those who have passed on and in that way help manage grief for those who lost someone they care about was a great and meaningful topic to explore in a young adult book.

For things I did not like,  I found this whole book for the most part to be unbelievable.  Tess was grieving over her friend Jonah's suicide, or was he her boyfriend?  Honestly, I am not even sure on this part other than they loved each other after only meeting once while she was drunk and then talking online all the time for six months after that first meeting.  Tess acted crazy and I know loss affects everyone differently but to me dropping out of school, almost drowning, and being a complete mess seems extreme for this sort of situation, again they only met once!  

Now I am going to go into SPOILERS and a huge rant, if you would like to skip this part then turn away!!

I wish this book had focused more on a genuine relationship between Jonah and Tess and then his suicide and Tess dealing with that grief and loss while finding herself and building a relationship with her father.  I think everything else should have been cut out.  It really swept such a huge topic, suicide, under the rug and what was left was an unconvincing story.  While there were good parts they were overshadowed by weird and disconnected characters and topics.  I think some may really enjoy this book but unfortunately it was not for me.   
Profile Image for Vera-Michele.
464 reviews54 followers
May 25, 2020
2.5/5 Stars

I didn't love this. I didn't connect with any of the characters, and the plot was all over the place. It didn't make sense, and I just didn't like it. It tried too much to make me feel sad.

I was very uncomfortable about Daniel and how he was pretending to be someone he wasn't. It just made me feel uncomfortable. Plus, you know, the sex came out of nowhere, and felt kind of forced.
Profile Image for Dayla.
2,032 reviews201 followers
June 28, 2017
I received a copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Things I'm Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni has a really strong first sentence. I have this habit of sometimes saving the first sentences of books, or the "hooks", because it really truly fascinates me how writers find a way to metaphorically hook a reader. Bognanni is really good at hooking you. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book, but there were still some issues I encountered throughout my reading experience.

I'm going to start with what I loved about Bognanni's novel and keep the details to a minimum since the book doesn't come out for a few months. I liked the tone of the novel. From the very beginning it drew me in and I immediately wanted to know more. I also loved the bits where the protagonist, Tess, is full on exploring the depth of her grief (but in a somewhat healthy way). I also liked Grace, a mother figure character who swims into Tess's life.

Now, the things that bugged me while I read the book are bugging me even more so now that I'm writing this review. Tess may have an interesting way of thinking but when she does talk her dialogue often felt either stilted or condescending, no matter the person she was talking to. I get that she is grieving and that she is suffering and doesn't want to have to deal with any of life's small annoyances, but there's a fine line. The way she talks to some of the characters really irked me because it felt like the character was trying to be more than she was--if that makes any sense. Also, her treatment of others came off as bratty and insensitive. There's a particular character that she's especially not the greatest with.

I'm also realizing that I am feeling slightly dissatisfied with how some of the relationships were portrayed and how one dimensional some of the characters were despite their involvement in the story.

That being said, there are some surprising revelations in this novel that definitely made this book unpredictable, so that was a great plus--even if they were weird revelations.

To leave this review on a lighter note however, I DID enjoy the way that the topic of grief was treated. The way the topic curved and weaved throughout the story is pretty similar to the confusing, and frustrating reality of grief. I'm no stranger to grief and I know it makes you do some weird things.

I would recommend this one for anyone who wants a lighter novel on the topic of grief. It's not heavy enough that you will need tissues afterwards, but it's not light enough to be a casual summer read either.

Happy reading!
Profile Image for Krummbein.
67 reviews10 followers
February 15, 2018
„Mein Leben oder ein Haufen unvollkommener Momente“ ist ein Jugendbuch welches von Peter Bognanni geschrieben wurde. Es ist am 29. Jänner 2018 über den Hanser Verlag erschienen.

Tess hat Jonah nur einmal getroffen. Auf einer Party. Und doch war er die Liebe ihres Lebens. In den sieben Monaten danach blieben sie über verschiedenste Arten des Social Media in Kontakt und planten ihr nächstes Treffen. Bis Tess eines Tages auf Jonahs Facebook-Seite sieht, dass er sich das Leben genommen hat. Für sie bricht eine Welt zusammen, weshalb sie von ihrer Schulpsychologin unter die Fittiche genommen wird. Da sie die ganze Situation nicht wahrhaben will, schickt sie weiter Nachrichten an Jonah, wohlwissend dass sie keine Antwort erhalten wird. Als ihr all dies nicht zu helfen scheint, schmeißt sie kurzerhand die Schule und fährt zu ihrem Vater, mit welchem sie kein sonderlich gutes Verhältnis mehr hat. In der Story folgen wir Tess wie sie versucht über den Schmerz hinwegzukommen und ihr Leben wieder in den Griff zu kriegen. Was sie jedoch nicht eingeplant hat ist, dass sie eines Tages eine Antwort von Jonah bekommt…

Der Einstieg in das Buch hat mir sehr gut gefallen! Man lernt Tess kennen und kann sich richtig gut in ihre Situation und ihren Schmerz hineinversetzen. Jedoch geht dies meiner Meinung nach im Mittelteil des Buches verloren. Ich kann nicht genau sagen woran es liegt, aber in der Mitte des Buches habe ich mit den Charakteren nicht mehr so richtig mitgefühlt und war auch von der Story nicht so wirklich begeistert. Dies hat sich aber gegen Ende noch einmal komplett geändert. Das Ende des Buches war der WAHNSINN! Das Ende bekommt von mit voll verdiente 5 Sterne und ich möchte hier noch mein Lieblingszitat einbringen:

„Alles kann schiefgehen. Nichts ist perfekt. Aber wenn es diese Unvollkommenheit nicht geben würde, was bliebe dann noch übrig?“

Hier war das Buch für mich mit „Vielleicht lieber morgen“ und „Das Schicksal ist ein mieser Verräter“ Vergleichbar. Und wer mich kennt weiß, dass dies ein wirklich großes Lob ist, da dies zwei meiner absoluten Lieblingsbücher sind.

Zusammenfassend muss ich sagen, dass ich bezüglich des Buches recht gemischte Gefühle habe. Wie oben bereits erwähnt fand ich den Anfang, aber vor allem das Ende des Buches wirklich, wirklich gut. Jedoch hat mich der Mittelteil recht enttäuscht, weshalb das Buch von mir nur 3,5 von 5 Sternen bekommt. (Anfang: 4 Sterne, Mitte: 2,5 – 3 Sterne, Ende: 5 Sterne)
Dennoch kann ich das Buch nur empfehlen und jedem raten auch wirklich bis zum Ende zu lesen!
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