Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What I Leave Behind” as Want to Read:
What I Leave Behind
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What I Leave Behind

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,593 ratings  ·  404 reviews
After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Ange
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What I Leave Behind, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What I Leave Behind

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,593 ratings  ·  404 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of What I Leave Behind
joanna ☽ the little brown fairy
You know what's weird? That something - something big - can happen to someone you know, someone you've known forever, while you're just living your life, and you don't even know it's happening.

3.5 stars for a sweet, short novel; I'd probably best describe it as like a chocolate -- quick to consume, but enjoyable all the same, although not really leaving much of an impression in the days after.

It's actually quite a pretty story, although it does delve into some deeper and darker issues, which
✨Brithanie Faith✨
3/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐

ARC provided by NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review!

What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee is one of the more uniquely formatted YA contemporaries that I have ever read. Told in 100 chapters, that are all 100 words each, this story follows Will, a teen who's father has recently committed suicide, and is dealing with grief in his own way by doing what he can to help those around him, including an old friend who was raped while attending a party they
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Did he feel like he was one thing on the outside and something else entirely different on the inside? Does Major Tom feel that way? Does Playa? Do I? Sometimes.

I went into this book with a lot of optimistic curiosity, because it's admittedly an unusual formatting choice for a story. The book is written in 100 chapters, with 100 words per chapter - that's it. Fun fact for you: 10,000 words total, so despite being 200+ pages, this is what is called a novelette! Anyways...

What I Leave Behind fo
Kelly Brigid ♡
“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

What first struck my interest is the peculiar format. This story is written as a collection of 100 chapters, 100 words each. They’re written from the perspective of Will, and are an account of his every day life. Although I wasn’t blown away by this novelette, I thought it was highly original and enjoyed the unique spin on storytelling McGhee brings to the table. As far as characters are concerned, I truly did admire Will, and think the first per
Liza Wiemer
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If this isn't on your radar, it should be! This is a remarkable YA novel!

From page one, I was pulled into this beautifully written, uniquely told story. There are 100 written pages with 100 words on each page. Perfect for reluctant readers, this novel will draw you in. Will, our narrator, shares his pain of his dad's suicide, the rape of his best friend, Playa, and the action he takes to cope with this trauma. He walks it off. But during his walks, he gives to others, often in secret. It brings
I was sent this as an unsolicited review request and I hadn’t heard of it until I received it.

Will is an interesting character. He’s got things going on in his life that he is struggling to deal with and yet he’s trying to spread positivity. In his walking, he meets several interesting characters and with the snippets I got of them, I was wanting more.

I really liked the format. It was small sections of words in small chapters. Everything chapter was about a half a page. From that, it was a ver
I read this book as an audiobook, and it's such the perfect format for this story!
This book is so short I'd recommend going into it without really knowing anything? I don't know how to explain, but I feel like this story is even more impactful when you don't really know what it's about and what's going to happen.
I was surprised to get such an emotional book considering it's a book made of 100 chapters, each counting 100 words.
I don't have much to say, sorry. Just give it a try if you feel like i
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it

Actual rating: 3.5 Stars!


I feel like there was a really important and beautiful story here, but it felt unfinished and too short?

Stay tuned for a full review coming soon!
Ankita Singh
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
I can't believe a book this small managed to touch my heart so completely. The book is barely 10,000 words long (if my maths is correct) and yet, it's so beautiful.

The book is broken down into 100 chapters, all having the length of 100 words. This unique format made it even more interesting and I found myself flipping pages at the speed of light. 

Will is a teenager who's been through a lot. His dad's death, and the rape of his best friend affect him in various ways. What I love is, his positive
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I've been reading a lot of mediocre books as of late, and I don't know if it's a me problem (aka the devils spawn, aka a book slump) or if the books i'm just reading are all collectively bleh.

For my sake, let's hope its option 2.

What I Leave Behind follows the thoughts and actions of a boy named Will who's life has been thrown upside down after the suicide of his father, and now the sexual assault his best friend has suffered, something Will blames himself for. The story doesn't have a Point A t
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen-fiction
Me, recommending this book to a teen: "this kid Will, he kind of reminds me of you. He's a laid back guy who gets along with everyone, but he's got a LOT going on in his head that he never lets people see. He's had a rough couple of years: he's seen some stuff, man. Lots of drama with family and friends, and he deals with it all by walking and thinking. And I KNOW you don't have a lot of time to read, so you're gonna love this: it's 100 chapters! What? But wait! Each chapter has only 100 words s ...more
Lisa (lifeinlit)
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written in a very unique style, What I Leave Behind was a very quick read. It was emotional, heartbreaking, yet hopeful. A very powerful read. A hundred chapters with a hundred words each. It’s definitely worth a read.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think what this novel went for was interesting. 100 chapters with 100 words in each chapter, but with that restriction, it severely limits what can be explored sufficiently. I don't think there was nearly enough time given to any of the subjects addressed in this book. The main character is depressed. His dad died by suicide, so he's trying to maintain some connection to him. His friend was raped by three people at a party. So with all of that, there wasn't even enough time to flesh out any ch ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2018-release
This was okay, but I think I’ve just overgrown this book. It’s clearly intended for a younger audience so the language felt really...juvenile sometimes, you know?
What I Leave Behind is a sweet, heart-wrenching book about a young man named Will who has lost his father to suicide. Going through daily life working at the Dollar Only store, he copes with his pain by being compassionate to those around him, including his kooky boss Major Tom, Superman (the homeless man on the street corner who eats Will's failed attempts at home made corn bread), Playa (Will's best friend who is sexually assaulted), and the little boy down the street who loves butterflies. Th ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written with admirable characters. This story was far too short but encompassed a strong message with raw and relatable emotions. I loved the style of the “chapters” and the incorporation of what I assume is the Chinese numbers or blessings on the opposite pages. I adored the David Bowie flair and song references throughout.

As a Child & Youth Worker in the school system I believe this book would be a great resource for any youth who has experienced trauma and are working through it.
unknown pokemon
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
3/5 stars

Instagram | full review on youtube

it was more superficial than anything else but what can you expect from a 10k novella?
Gary Anderson
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Will walks. He walks after work, and he walks home, and he walks to school. Will has a lot on his mind. He has two tragedies in his life, and he walks and thinks. Alison McGhee’s What I Leave Behind is one hundred of Will’s thoughts. A quick read, this book captures what it’s like to search for answers and meanings among jumbled thoughts. Themes here include suicide and sexual assault, and the brief back matter offers guidance for young readers struggling with similar conflicts.
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this in 30 mins! So short yet so very beautiful and touching. Sad, yet hopeful. It is def worth a read!
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is one of those reads that make you think a lot after you’ve actually read the book.

What I Leave Behind is a contemporary that revolves around Will, a young adult. He works at a Dollar store and tries to attempt his father’s special cornbread recipe every Tuesday when his mother works overnight. The above two is the most he does to his routine because everything else is spontaneous even though unintentional. If you would ask me to summarize this book, I somehow can’t. Not becau
Karen • The Book Return
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
Read this review and more on my blog.Read this review and more on my blog.The Book Return Blog
Will’s dad commits suicide. His childhood friend, Playa, is raped at a party. His mom works long over-night shifts as a nurse. Will then decides to take the negatives in his life and turn them into something completely wonderful.

Will’s father’s death helps him realize that everyone needs positive acknowledgement. He also realizes that sometimes it’s the little things that can make a difference. He give
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, library
This is going to be a fantastic resource to have in my collection for reluctant readers.

This book is told in 100 chapters of 100 words each. The chapters are tight and intentional and strikingly filled with story, detail, and emotion. Reading it, I almost felt like I was reading verse even though it's prose ... like it's the cool cousin that doesn't visit often stuck somewhere in the middle of the two that you just want to hang out with more at a family party before your parents decide they are
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
100 words to a page; 100 pages to the book.
So the formatting is a silent, yet genius springboard from which the story springs.
The main character Will is a thoughtful, kind sort who is also a walker.
"Sometimes you go to walk the day out of you."
He takes to walking after a death in his family, even though some places are difficult to walk by, his best friend Playa's house, the Blessings store, and the Fourth Street Bridge.
He does however, meet the little butterfly guy, Superman the homeless
Jovana Autumn
This is such a lovely book.

It delivers what the synopsis says in such a simple and yet impactful way.

Discussing serious topics such as suicide and sexual assault and dealing with them — it is very realistic in describing the topics.

Hope is also a big part of the book:

A long time ago, a father used to wear a Bowie T-shirt. He used to make cornbread. He used to tell his kid secrets, like melt the butter, like only use cast iron. He used to sing Bowie songs while he worked. He sang about Major Tom
Ryley (Ryley Reads)
I love a good quick little verse-type book and that was exactly what this book was! Like many books written this way, it dealt with some more serious topics.

Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

*Trigger Warning: Suicide/death, sexual assault/rape*

This story is more like a short story that follows Will, a teen who is working at the local dollar store. He is experiencing the grief of his father's dea
Sarah Cavar
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novella-ette, 2021
Whoa! I stumbled upon this on Libby and decided that, since it was only a brief 90-minute~ audiobook, I might as well try it out. In just over two-hundred spare pages, McGhee expertly depicts teenage love, grief, and confusion, all without reducing a book full of heavy topics to an "Issues Book." This is a complex, uplifting story with a diverse cast representative of LA that I would recommend to young adult readers, especially those struggling in the aftermath of sexual assault, grief, and/or l ...more
Literary Strawberry
Beautiful, heartbreaking, quiet, hopeful. Will is so kind and I wish there were more people in the world like him.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Oh, I needed a very good cry. 100 words per page on 100 pages. What a beautiful book.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Originally posted on: The Quirky Book Nerd

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I desperately wanted to love this book, and thought that I would, but I ended up feeling pretty lukewarm about it overall. Don’t get me wrong, what is contained in these pages is absolutely beautiful—there are so many touching moments between the very endearing characters. Every page made me fall more and more in love with every single aspect of the narrative—but then it
Tanya (Tee)
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Free e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

What an interesting format. 100 words on 100 pages for a total of 100 chapters.
Even If this book is really short in itself, there is a lot in those pages.
I enjoyed the writing style, It’s a powerful short story focusing in the moments, thoughts, apprehension, and finding happiness in small things. Even if I loved the book, I wish I could have connected a bit more with the characters, it’s not because the characters weren’t enough, it’s just that I n
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • After The Shot Drops
  • Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel
  • Punching the Air
  • Price of Duty
  • Ordinary Hazards
  • Monday's Not Coming
  • Patron Saints of Nothing
  • The Escape of Light
  • For Every One
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay (Darius The Great, #1)
  • Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
  • Almost American Girl
  • Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles
  • They Went Left
  • Shout
  • Cog
  • Flamer
  • Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
See similar books…
Alison McGhee writes novels, picture books, poems, and essays for all ages, including the just-published THE OPPOSITE OF FATE, a novel, and the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. She lives in Minneapolis and California.

Related Articles

Oh hey, we're nearly halfway through 2021! We can't really believe it either... Traditionally, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial...
82 likes · 12 comments
“Music is the refuge of the lonely.” 0 likes
More quotes…