Title: Things I’m Seeing Without You
Author: Peter Bognanni
Publication date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Dial Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
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.
I think that writing about grief and trying put all that pain into words is one of the hardest emotions to explain. However, in Things I’m Seeing Without You, the author executed this emotion so well—with love, heartache, and sorrow. Through snapshots of the main character’s emotional turmoil of losing the first guy she ever loved, Tess walks us through her emotional state to grasp the reality of death and all the lows that come with it.
As Tess is facing anxiety and depression, she is often stagnant and rarely opens up to the few people around her. She’s not angsty but with her “take no BS” attitude she comes off very sarcastic, while she internally bottles up her grief. I kept wishing that she would open up more to people about her depression, but I think she realistically portrays an adolescent that oftentimes keeps their feelings within themselves. Tess is quirky and smart, but she definitely has a thick shell that’s hard for people to crack.
Overall, Things I’m Seeing Without You, is a quick read but throughout the novel I felt like I lingered with Tess. I felt as though I was part of her mourning process. Even though this novel focuses on first loves and loss, it also unfolds into a novel about maturing, trying to move on, and second chances. Death is a hard topic and situation to grasp, and Peter Bognanni’s writing is a honest portrayal of the struggles that come with it: loss and heartache.