All We Have Left
by Wendy Mills
It was beautiful to watch this story unfold and the lessons that I learned from this book’s pages still stick with me today. With strong messages about tolerance, grief, hate, and forgiveness, All We Have Left is a text with significant themes worth sharing. Even on the most basic level, this is a well-written story accompanied by a beautiful cast of characters and a moving plot.
A moving illustration of the effects our actions have on the present and the future.
Worth reading for so many reasons.
The subtle shape of buildings integrated into the outline of the tree on the front cover is such a nice nod to the book’s subject matter. Not only is the cover of All We Have Left gorgeous, but the pastel color scheme has to be one of my favorites.
As part of the generation born after the tragedy of 9/11, my experience with the event was limited to personal recounts of “I remember where I was when it happened” and an annual moment of silence in school. Though, I was aware of the tragedy, I struggled to grasp the full gravity of the situation.
I wasn’t really expecting that to change when I read this book, though I’ll admit I was hoping it would. Personally, I was able to really connect and fall in love with these characters, which contributed greatly to the impact this book had on me. If you aren’t able to relate as well to the characters or connect with them at all, I could definitely see this story being less effective for you.
I don’t often cry while reading, but this book moved me to tears. Mills does such a wonderful job bringing these characters to life with all of their strengths and all of their flaws, that I really did become so invested in the outcome of their story. The subject matter of All We Have Left is particularly poignant, as the book does a wonderful job of discussing tragedy, the effects of grief, and the intricacies of hate. With such heavy topics, you would probably expect the story to be sad and disheartening but rather I found the pervasive spirit of optimism to be incredibly uplifting. Yes, there are sad moments but the story focuses mainly on overcoming the spirit of grief and showcases great resilience from its characters.
The book is told from two perspectives, one past and one “present,” that combine in a wonderfully unexpected and beautiful way. I appreciated the fact that nothing felt too convenient, and still the story was able to have the twist-like reveals where suddenly everything connected. It was very satisfying to watch this story come together as a reader.
The Last Word
I can’t think any specific grievance that I had against the story but I will say that the level you connect with the text and characters will likely be a major influence how much All We Have Left impacts you.
After four years, this book still holds its place as my favorite novel…
Age Group: YA
Recommendation: Please, read this.
Related Cause: Grief, Religion, Tolerance