Who I Was with Her ate up my entire afternoon. I began painting my nails while reading and ended up skipping lunch. Not only is Corinne so utterly relatable, especially in her mistakes, but this book is so emotional. And so unapologetically queer with a bisexual MC and ace SC! Keep reading this book review to find out what else I loved!
There are two things that Corinne Parker knows to be true: that she is in love with Maggie Bailey, the captain of the rival high school’s cross-country team and her secret girlfriend of a year, and that she isn’t ready for anyone to know she’s bisexual.
But then Maggie dies, and Corinne quickly learns that the only thing worse than losing Maggie is being left heartbroken over a relationship no one knows existed. And to make things even more complicated, the only person she can turn to is Elissa — Maggie’s ex and the single person who understands how Corinne is feeling.
As Corinne struggles to make sense of her grief and what she truly wants out of life, she begins to have feelings for the last person she should fall for. But to move forward after losing Maggie, Corinne will have to learn to be honest with the people in her life…starting with herself.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: grief, parental alcohol addiction, biphobia
Who I Was with Her is a deeply emotional book about queer identity, grief, and coming to terms with loss. At the same time, it’s also a book about friendship, the expectations, and weights, of parents, and love. A central theme throughout Who I Was with Her was about the pieces of ourselves we show to other people. The versions of ourselves we choose to be. The ones we are allowed to be with the people around us. Not only does Corinne have to deal with the death of her girlfriend, but being unable to grieve openly because she hasn’t come out as bisexual yet.
Corinne’s journey is deeply emotional, not just about her own grief, but her feelings about herself, her queer identity, and her future. Because she hasn’t come out yet, she struggles to conceal her pain, to have to keep her happiness with Maggie and her grief a secret. That feeling when grief separates us not only from ourselves, from our past, but from our friends and family. This sadness builds further on Corinne’s feeling of not belonging, of already fighting to fit into her new home.
In chapters that alternate between before and afterwards, we are able to see snapshots of their relationship. It becomes both heart warming, but also intriguing, especially as the cracks in their moments, their relationships, and their lives begin to show. Especially as Corinne’s relationship with Maggie only throws light onto the shadows in Corinne’s life, her own insecurities, and her own fears of the future.
(I also loved the conversation Corinne has with her friend who is asexual and a QPOC and how Corinne should be a better ally to the racism she encounters).
Who I Was with Her is an emotional roller coaster. A story about grief, love, and friendship. It’s also a story about Corinne figuring out how to be herself, to have her wants and desires and to be who she is – not hiding, being in the moment. Realizing what we want without expectations. To find the courage to not be afraid of what people think or say. While at the same time, showing how grief is messy and incomplete and how important it is to accept people, and our loss, as who they were, not who grief makes them out to be. Acknowledge the love and pressure, pain and light.