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When You Were Everything

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  89 reviews
You can't rewrite the past, but you can always choose to start again.

Its been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Laylas friendship imploded.

Nearly a month since Cleo realized theyll never be besties again.

Now, Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her exbest friend. But pretending Layla doesnt exist isnt as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Delacorte Press
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  187 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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My favorite fiction book of 2020 so far, thank goodness for the year of novels that focus on friendship! We Used to be Friends validated my heartbreak over the close friendships I lost in 2019, and When You Were Everything both validated that heartbreak and pushed me to believe in the power of opening my heart again despite past friendship pains. I feel grateful to Ashley Woodfolk for writing such a nuanced and realistic portrayal of friendship. As someone who has had quite a few intense ...more
Eric Smith
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
This book destroyed me and I thanked it for doing so.
Lisa Wolf
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Its refreshing to read a contemporary YA novel where romance takes a backseat. In When You Were Everything, the focus is on friendship or more specifically, on the end of friendship.

Few things are more traumatic for teen girls that losing a best friend. In When You Were Everything, we witness the pain and sorrow and rage that occurs when besties forever, Cleo and Layla, fall apart.

It happens the way these things do. Friends since age twelve, the girls start moving in different directions at the
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfork brought me back to my high school days. It brought out all the feels that those days gave me. When Cleo starts realizing that she might be losing her best friend she begins having a hard time dealing with life. Not only is she losing her best friend but her parents are also separating. This books deals with alternating dates "Then" and "Now" Then talks about how her friendship ended and Now deals with the present day Cleo. I also enjoyed the diversity ...more
Apr 19, 2018 marked it as to-read
Yup! Give it to me!
Justin A Reynolds
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has everything I want and gave me a few things I didnt understand I needed. Wise and melancholic, gorgeously nostalgic, Woodfolks stories pummel your heart and make you stronger for it. ...more
Ms. Woc Reader
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poc-ya
This book was beautifully written though the pacing was a little slow at times. Cleo and Layla have been best friends for years. But once Layla starts hanging out with the chorus girls she gains a little more confidence and starts hanging out with Cleo less; Not to mention Layla's new friend Sloane doesn't seem to like Cleo at all and turns the other chorus girls against her. And Sloane ends up starting a rumor which really hurts Cleo and her family.

While reading it I wanted to judge Cleo for
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING by Ashley Woodfolk in exchange for my honest review.***


Cleo and Layla are best friends. Until they arent. Cleo, jealous when Laylas world expanding with new friends and opportunities, sees her friends growth as rejection. She strikes out and Laylas friends strike back. Cleo escalates with a cruel comment about Laylas stuttering and things go from bad to worse.

Friendships are complicated. Friends don
Rec-It Rachel
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
told in dual timelines of then and now, ashley woodfolk's newest masterpiece is about what happens when both sides of a friendship implode and how you can't put the pieces back together but you can make two new puzzles
"Losing you wounded me. Probably more than you know. If I hurt you just as deeply, Im sorry."

This was a somewhat refreshing story to read.
Refreshing but not memorable, if I have to be honest.

It does not happen that often that the focus point of a YA contemporary is not romance, and so when it actually happens you just gotta jump at the occasion and read the damn book.

This was indeed a YA contemporary which heavily centered around friendship and what it means to stop being friend with your BFF
Melanie (bookswritinghappiness)
03-23-18 | I havent even read The Beauty That Remains yet and Im already super hype for another Ashley Woodfolk book : )
04-29-18 | I just finished The Beauty That Remains and wow I can't wait to read more of Ashley Woodfolk's writing!! Also, I just realized how much this synopsis reminds me of I'll Give You the Sun, and I freaking love that book, so I have high hopes for When You Were Everything. Is it 2019 yet??
An immersive story about the dissolution of a close friendship. Cleo and Layla had been friends since they were 12, but as their junior year of high school starts, things fall apart. Told in "now" and "then" sections through Cleo's voice, we see all of the missteps that led to the end of what had once been a close relationship.

I loved how Cleo is portrayed here. She's the one who made a lot of poor decisions about Layla, and Layla put her foot down in how she responded. But in no way does Cleo's
Samantha (WLABB)
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Layla entered her life at time when Cleo really needed her, and now, as her family was falling apart, she was gone. Once she was Cleo's everything, but now, they were veritable strangers.

I am so happy to be seeing more and more of these friend breakup stories. I bet many people have experienced a painful end to what they thought was a lifelong relationship, and therefore, many will be able to relate to what Cleo was going through. In fact, my heart ached, often, as I read this book, because I
Jessica Jeffers
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book, about the dissolution of a close female friendship. That's a hard situation for anyone to go through, especially when you're a teenager, and I appreciated that Woodfolk acknowledged how both of the main players in this drama were at fault. Both behaved poorly, both suffered hurt feelings, and the reality is that maybe they've just outgrown each other. It's a bittersweet, realistic, and very touching story.

My only real complaints were that a) it ran a bit long, and
Emily Murray
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Random House Children's & NetGalley for the e-ARC!

This book was simultaneously captivating and hard to read. Romantic break ups get a lot of attention, but people rarely think about platonic break ups between best friends. Ashley Woodfolk really captured the essence of high school--and the high/low drama that can come with it.

One of the things that kept me from giving this book 5 stars is that I'm not sure the main character, Cleo, really learned her lesson at the end it. I won't
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

When You Were Everything is a heart wrenching story about mistakes, friendship, and loss. The friendships and loss which hits us harder than any other relationship. When someone was a part of you - a piece of your soul - and they begin drifting away, they break apart. I knew from the beginning that When You Were Everything was going to be emotional, but it's also a love letter to
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, arc, book-bingo-2020
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 07, 2020 added it
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Love stories and breakups in fiction usually revolve around romantic love, but what about that deep platonic love? Friendships are deep and last years, but what happens when they're over? Society and media don't really explore what happens when friendships end. This book flips the script and tells the story of best friends breaking up.

Chloe is our protagonist. At first, her love for Shakespeare is so cringy because what high schooler likes Shakespeare? Usually, one forced to read Romeo
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq, read-in-2020
I'm sorry, but that was so weak.

I loved Beauty that remains - emotions, characters having distinct voices, story line... But where The Beauty that remains was emotional and easy to feel, When You Were Everything is dull and distant. Yeah, I get it, it's about friendship - losing one, finding other. But why no one is talking about how Cleo deserved that? Girl. People grow apart, people change. You couldn't handle that, did something terrible, and even though you did apologize - Layla doesn't
Julie Jaeger
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"That's the thing about words: they can leave you both unscathed and completely gutted. Girls wage endless wars with their voices, tearing you apart without touching you at all (250)."

In When You Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk captures all that is girl friendship. The way girls can feed each others' souls; the way girls can tear each other into pieces.

Cleo and Layla's friendship is at the core of the story, moving between the then and now timelines seamlessly. Teens will identify with the way
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my lord Jesus this book was absolutely brilliant! The main character goes through trials of losing friends and gaining more. She goes through her family being separated but, it was written so beautiful! Ashley Woodfolk knew what she was doing when she wrote this book and it was absolutely amazing. Its honestly leaving me speechless! ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full offense but how dare Ashley Woodfolk make me cry on my morning commute today!! If I had to read this and cry over having my friendship breakups reflected back at me then so do you. Thank you to the author for this extremely relatable story and for the unexpected ARC after our chat at a YA book event last month, I can't wait to read the published version ♥
Sidney Ropp
Sep 25, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2019-releases
This gives me complete I'll Give You the Sun vibes, and I've determined I need this book immediately.
Mar 10, 2020 added it
Recommends it for: fans of Brandy Colbert, books w/ Shakespeare references
I received an ARC of this novel through Net Galley for an honest review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

4.5/5 stars
CW: divorce, loss of a loved one, grief, death, bullying
Rep: POC mc, Mulsim sc, Korean sc's queer sc's, stutter disability rep
"Why should he decide when he wants to be my friend? Why does everyone else get to pick when they want to be close to me and when they don't? I'm sick of it"

I feel so grateful to be given the chance to review this book early as Ashley
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


What happens when a friendship you thought you'd have forever breaks up? That is what When You Were Everything explores in brutal honesty and fabulous realism. And it's something that I imagine everyone can relate to. The loss of someone important to you, the grief of moving on without them. Cleo never thought she'd have to move on from Layla. Layla had been like a sister to Cleo
Teresa McWaters
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading a book like this, a book that focuses on the ups and downs of friendship, was so refreshing to me. I feel like we don't get to see friendship-focused books nearly enough. Yes, there was a romance, but it took the backseat and allowed room for Cleo and Layla's story. I think friendship drama is something that everyone goes through in high school, but it isn't talked about nearly enough in YA literature so I'm glad this story is out in the world for people to read.

Another thing I really
Ciera ( bubblynbookish )
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Contains a few spoilers*
Overall: A quick and heart pulling read for teens. I took a breathe at the end. This story set off a few memories with old friends I tucked away years ago.

This is a beautiful story about the ending to a long-lasting friendship. This is a story about forgiveness, love, loss, and new beginnings. I didnt think I would stay hooked but I really really wanted to know what happened between Cleo and Layla. There was a lot of pettiness and typical high school banter, but the back
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
When You Were Everything

( Arc received from Net Galley)

"Somehow I'm the girl who makes all the wrong choices, but I am also a girl who aches in every way to be wanted despite my mistakes "

I requested this arc on a whim and it turned out to be something that came to me in the perfect time in my life. If you have been through a friendship breakup, toxic friendship, or even questioning whether you should cut someone out of your life, definitely check this book out.

The story follows our main
Smileitsjoy (JoyMelody)
This book broke me!
For once a book that addresses the complexities of friendships. Across cultures. During high school.
Where romance isnt the main focus, although can we get a sequel cause i want to know more about Dom and Cleo lol!
Anyway, the writing of this book is amazing. Its also a book that i would pair with reading of Shakespeare. It really highlights the main themes of the plays.

I related so much to Cleo. I too hid away in books. Wore thick glasses. Didnt really have friends. Was left
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amazing book about losing a best friend and moving on. I really related to the main character. She handled losing a friend the way I imagine most teens would.

This book is told in dual timelines of then and now, and I think it works perfectly for the book. The then is when the MC Cleo and her ex-best friend Layla were still close but starting to drift. The now is Cleo moving on and trying to start a new life with Layla. I love the dual timelines and I love that you dont find out everything that
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Ashley Woodfolk graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and her life-long love of books led her straight to the publishing industry. She's a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and markets books for children and teens. In her abundance of "spare" time, she writes contemporary YA. Indie movies, beer, books, and burgers are a few of her favorite things. She lives in Brooklyn with ...more

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