All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg starts out in typical “Teen Romance Novel” fashion. Marion and her friend Lillith arrive at a high school party where Marion, the bookworm, meets Kurt Medford, captain of the soccer team, and they have a flirty yet awkward encounter. From there on though there is nothing normal about the story of these two teens. Both Marion and Kurt have dark secrets from their past that they are hiding. But both of them are suffering from harboring these secrets and it all comes to a head when they meet each other and their lives spin out of control as their secrets threaten to spill out. This story is heartfelt and gritty, these two teens, have real problems that readers will sympathize with.
The story is real. The characters are real. This love story isn’t all high school swoon and fairy tales and trust. Rather, it explores the broken bits within each of us—the bits that make us feel unworthy and ugly and scared—and how two teens struggle with how to make those pieces fit into the world.