Things I expected from this book: an emo teen mourning her dead boyfriend, and whoa is me, all the angst.
Things I actually got: a weirdly funny, quirky, touching, moving book about love and loss and grief and death that left me shook in the best way possible.
Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni was an unexpectedly delightful book that surprised me at every turn. For the first few pages, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get through this book. See my initial expectations, above. I just didn’t have the patience for an entire book filled with teen angst. But Things I’m Seeing Without You is angst-free.
Well, I mean. It’s still about a teenager mourning her dead boyfriend. There’s some angst.
But it’s not the mopey, life-is-miserable story you’d expect!
Instead, the book is filled with wild abandon, weed-fueled encounters with a horse owner’s assistant, a gaggle of elderly burlesque performers, and perhaps the world’s most clueless father.
I honestly don’t want to say too much, because each unexpected, surprising next step in the book’s journey is part of what makes reading Things I’m Seeing Without You so utterly delightful.
What Bognanni really dials in on is the concept of grief, and how it affects everyone so differently – but also much in the same way. How we think about death. How we think about mourning those who have died. How we choose to approach life in the face of grief.
Things I’m Seeing Without You is heartbreaking and hilarious in equal turns, but more than anything else it is heartfelt and real and meaningful in so many ways. It will touch readers in many ways, and it will touch each reader differently. But it is a book that packs an emotional punch and leaves an impression long after the last page.
Look for it in stores tomorrow. Here is the official synopsis:
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.