Book Review: When You Were Everything
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4 Stars
Read: September 2020
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.
One of the reasons I like reading YA is to relive feelings and experiences I’ll never have again. First love, first heartbreak, the feeling of being so close to your best friends. When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk addresses a more painful part of being a teenager: losing your best friend.
It happens to most of us. You spend hours upon hours with your best friend, and you can’t imagine life without them. Then one day you realize, somehow, that friendship has been severed, either abruptly or gradually over time. Sometimes, you don’t even recognize that person you used to swear you’d spend the rest of your life with.
When You Were Everything beautifully captures the painful and emotional friendship breakup of Cleo and Layla. It’s messy, sad, but ultimately uplifting. Cleo is flawed, just like all of us, and I appreciated how this book shed light on the mistakes and harm done by both Cleo and Layla. I loved seeing Cleo’s growth throughout the book, and the new relationships she forges as she moves forward. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys emotional YA stories, coming of age stories, and a good cry.
You can purchase a copy of When You Where Everything on Bookshop here.
Far Flung Readers participates in Bookshop’s affiliate program. You can learn more about our participation here.