Who I Was with Her

Nita Tyndall
"A beautiful, poised, and thought-provoking debut about love, loss, coming out, and discovering living life on your own terms." --New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Glasgow 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.


Reviewed: 2020-10-31

I've been really looking forward to this book, and it delivered. I'm not usually a big fan of contemporary books, especially sad contemporary books, but the premise intrigued me and the writing was amazing. Let me tell you, I cried like a baby while reading it, especially in the second half.

Corinne Parker is messy. I'm not going to deny it. But she's also lovely. She's grieving, her family is messed up, and she has no idea what she wants. But she knows she loved Maggie. Except now Maggie is dead. There are times I wanted to shake her regarding choices she was making, but I also understood why she was making them. I just want to give her a hug and not let go. Corinne and I are pretty different in a lot of ways, and likely wouldn't have crossed paths in high school, but I loved getting to know her.

An special aspect of the story to me was the setting. It takes place in rural-ish North Carolina, maybe 30 minutes from where I live. But unlike Corinne, I live in a city area. Her fears about coming out are universal in that coming out is scary, no matter what environment you're in, but it also struck me how different the coming out experience could be just a short distance apart. I went to a small private school where being queer was no big deal. Many of my classmates were LGBTQIA+, or had family members who are. Even in the bigger public schools in area, being queer is relatively normal. There are queer teachers who are out to their students and there are GSAs in most schools. We have a large Pride parade every year, and it's smack dab in the middle of downtown. Many local organizations and schools participate, and last year the city hung various Pride flags down the parade route. This is all to say that, where you live is important, even if where you live is only a short drive away from somewhere very different. I was lucky to never have to be afraid of what my family or classmates would think if/when I came out. And I hope we can make a world where people like Corinne don't have to deal with all the outside pressures that come with coming out.

Who I Was With Her was sad, but it was also hopeful. It was about figuring out who you are and what you want. Corinne started the book pursing dreams that weren't hers because she didn't know what else to do. To watch her grow and make new choices, even if they weren't always ones I would make, was powerful.

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