What I Leave Behind

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About The Book

“An artful exercise in melancholy…Every reader will love openhearted Will.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Haunting, introspective.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Emotionally raw…[A] piercing narrative.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“McGhee artfully illustrates the tangled web wherein grief intertwines with the mundane.” —BCCB


After his dad dies of suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this exquisitely crafted story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each, by award-winning and bestselling author Alison McGhee.

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 Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.

About The Author

Dani Werner

Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, as well as Dear SisterMaybe a FoxFirefly HollowLittle BoySo Many DaysStar BrightA Very Brave Witch, and the Bink and Gollie books. Her other children’s books include All Rivers Flow to the SeaCountdown to Kindergarten, and Snap. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Laguna Beach, California. You can visit her at AlisonMcGhee.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (May 2018)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • Runtime: 1 hour and 28 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781508259022
  • Grades: 9 and up
  • Ages: 14 - 99

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Awards and Honors

  • ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
  • Texas Tayshas Reading List
  • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year Selection Title

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