Review: When You Were Everything

Title: When You Were Everything
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Genres:  Contemporary
Pages: 400
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available Now

Summary: You can’t rewrite the past, but you can always choose to start again. It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded. Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.

Now, Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex–best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding new friendships with other classmates—and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom—Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both. Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: I thought I had prepared myself emotionally for Ashley Woodfolk’s latest book, When You Were Everything. The book follows Cleo as she copes with the aftermath of a devastating friend break-up with her BFF Layla. She wants to move on, but sometimes, friend break-ups are the hardest ones to move on from. Having experienced my own friend break-up a few years ago, I knew this book would, as we used to say in the 2010s, hit me right in the feels. And it did. Oof.

When You Were Everything switches between past and present, creating a vivid portrait of Cleo and Layla’s friendship and break-up. It’s heartbreaking and suspenseful at turns, as you gradually learn what caused the two BFFs to fall apart and walk away from each other. Along the way, Cleo learns more about her parents, how to navigate new friendships, and how to move on from old ones. There’s a number of powerful themes deftly explored throughout the novel, and it was wonderful to see it all come together at the end.

Reading this book was so incredibly worth it. I may have cried straight through the last half of it — that’s just how well-written and emotionally powerful it is. I absolutely recommend When You Were Everything to anyone looking for a sweet romance and a poignant tale of friendship, with all the ups and downs that come with any friendship that’s close to your heart. This is a must-read, and should be at the top of your to-read pile.

Recommendation: Buy it now!