When You Were Everything
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.

When You Were Everything Details

TitleWhen You Were Everything
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 10th, 2020
PublisherDelacorte Press
ISBN-139781524715915
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic Fiction

When You Were Everything Review

  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite fiction book of 2020 so far, thank goodness for the year of novels that focus on friendship! We Used to be Friends validated my heartbreak over the close friendships I lost in 2019, and When You Were Everything both validated that heartbreak and pushed me to believe in the power of opening my heart again despite past friendship pains. I feel grateful to Ashley Woodfolk for writing such a nuanced and realistic portrayal of friendship. As someone who has had quite a few intense My favorite fiction book of 2020 so far, thank goodness for the year of novels that focus on friendship! We Used to be Friends validated my heartbreak over the close friendships I lost in 2019, and When You Were Everything both validated that heartbreak and pushed me to believe in the power of opening my heart again despite past friendship pains. I feel grateful to Ashley Woodfolk for writing such a nuanced and realistic portrayal of friendship. As someone who has had quite a few intense friendships that either still exist today or have ended, I often feel unseen because fiction, including YA, focuses so much on romance. This book, however, gives voice to the type of close relationship that has both sustained me and hurt me throughout my life: best friendship.The novel follows Cleo Imani Baker and Layla Hassan, two best friends who met at age 12 and have prioritized each other over everything ever since. Their friendship starts to shift when Layla begins to spend more time with the “Chorus Girls,” who make an explicit point not to include Cleo in their friend group. Cleo’s initial hurt at Layla valuing her new friends over their friendship triggers a painful cycle of name-calling, misunderstandings, and betrayals that sends their friendship lurching toward the end. Afterward, Cleo is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart, all while dealing with her parents’ separation too. While a new friend and a potential romantic flame show interest in Cleo, she has to decide whether to trust them with her heart, especially after Layla bruised and battered it in the fallout of their friendship.I loved this book for its complex and relatable portrayal of friendship. Almost everything Cleo experienced, I’ve experienced. Seeing a best friend deprioritize you for someone else yet not having the language to describe it in the moment? Yep. Hurting your friend after your friend hurt you in a way you’re unproud of, yet felt cathartic at the time? Been there. Seeing someone you care about change to the point where you no longer really know or love them, and taking a long time to accept that? So me in 2019 and even now. Through the dissolution of Cleo and Layla’s friendship, Woodfolk creates a narrative that feels so, so validating for me and I’m hoping for others who have lost a best friend or a close friend who they loved. With accessible and clear writing, she highlights how much losing a friend can hurt, especially a friend who you trusted with everything.At the same time, Woodfolk shares the healing process in When You Were Everything. I loved seeing Cleo learn to trust Sydney, another girl she befriends. Woodfolk shows how it takes Cleo time to trust Sydney after Layla broke her heart, and even though it takes time, Cleo learns to open up again and share herself, her joys and her pains. Watching Cleo’s healing process gave me hope for my own healing process and motivated me to celebrate the close friendships I do have right now, despite some of my past ones that have burned me. Woodfolk includes some additional subtle yet brilliant insights throughout the novel too, such as how sometimes you just have to go through your pain instead of trying to erase it, as well as how sometimes you idealize someone and have to learn to see them for who they really are, instead of who you want them to be.Overall, a fantastic novel I’d recommend for all fans of young-adult fiction. While the book’s pacing felt a little slow for the first 50-100 pages, it does pick up, especially for me when I started to get invested in Cleo’s various relationships and her healing process. While there is a romantic relationship in this novel, it never overtakes the importance of friendship, thank goodness. I’m loving all these novels on friendship so please continue to send any friendship-related book recommendations my way. Props for the inclusion of an almost entirely, if not actually entirely cast of characters of color as well as queer representation too. In her author’s note, Woodfolk shares how she wanted to write this book in part because of the close friendships she’s lost in her life – so I’m grateful for her vulnerability and for her creation of this friendship-focused, beautiful, sad, and hopeful piece of art.
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  • Eric Smith
    January 1, 1970
    This book destroyed me and I thanked it for doing so.
  • Lisa Wolf
    January 1, 1970
    Its refreshing to read a contemporary YA novel where romance takes a backseat. In When You Were Everything, the focus is on friendship or more specifically, on the end of friendship.Few things are more traumatic for teen girls that losing a best friend. In When You Were Everything, we witness the pain and sorrow and rage that occurs when besties forever, Cleo and Layla, fall apart.It happens the way these things do. Friends since age twelve, the girls start moving in different directions at the It’s refreshing to read a contemporary YA novel where romance takes a backseat. In When You Were Everything, the focus is on friendship — or more specifically, on the end of friendship.Few things are more traumatic for teen girls that losing a best friend. In When You Were Everything, we witness the pain and sorrow and rage that occurs when besties forever, Cleo and Layla, fall apart.It happens the way these things do. Friends since age twelve, the girls start moving in different directions at the start of their sophomore year of high school. Layla wants more than anything to join the school chorus, and while the “Chorus Girls” adopt her right away, they have no interest in including Cleo in their elite circle.Cleo’s feeling are hurt over and over again as Layla spends more time with her new friends than with Cleo, and small slights turn into bigger and bigger betrayals, until there’s a final and irreparable break.Cleo is also dealing with her parents’ separation, and her new friendless status is made even worse by a stream of bullying and harassment she endures from the Chorus Girls while Layla stands by and does nothing.Cleo is smart and driven, but she also makes some poor choices, lashing out in hurtful ways when her own feelings are hurt. And while I felt that Layla was more to blame for the friendship break-up, Cleo isn’t blameless either.When You Were Everything is hard to read at times, specifically because it’s so relatable. My own high school years are way in the past, but Cleo’s feelings as she’s isolated and tormented ring very true, in a sadly timeless sort of way.I enjoyed seeing how Cleo opens herself up to new friendships and learns to see what’s in front of her instead of living inside her own head so much. There’s a sweet romance too, but it’s less important than what Cleo learns about herself and about friendship.The cast of characters is nicely diverse, and I liked the way the story includes the importance of family and the impact of parents’ and grandparents’ support, love, and involvement. Despite the sadness of the end of a friendship, the book ends on a hopeful note.Definitely a recommended read!Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.
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  • Mandi1082
    January 1, 1970
    When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfork brought me back to my high school days. It brought out all the feels that those days gave me. When Cleo starts realizing that she might be losing her best friend she begins having a hard time dealing with life. Not only is she losing her best friend but her parents are also separating. This books deals with alternating dates "Then" and "Now" Then talks about how her friendship ended and Now deals with the present day Cleo. I also enjoyed the diversity When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfork brought me back to my high school days. It brought out all the feels that those days gave me. When Cleo starts realizing that she might be losing her best friend she begins having a hard time dealing with life. Not only is she losing her best friend but her parents are also separating. This books deals with alternating dates "Then" and "Now" Then talks about how her friendship ended and Now deals with the present day Cleo. I also enjoyed the diversity in this book and a great story line. Thank you Netgalley and Delcorte Press for providing an ARC of this book for an honest review.
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  • Warda
    January 1, 1970
    Yup! Give it to me!
  • Justin A Reynolds
    January 1, 1970
    This book has everything I want and gave me a few things I didnt understand I needed. Wise and melancholic, gorgeously nostalgic, Woodfolks stories pummel your heart and make you stronger for it. This book has everything I want and gave me a few things I didn’t understand I needed. Wise and melancholic, gorgeously nostalgic, Woodfolk’s stories pummel your heart and make you stronger for it.
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  • Ms. Woc Reader
    January 1, 1970
    This book was beautifully written though the pacing was a little slow at times. Cleo and Layla have been best friends for years. But once Layla starts hanging out with the chorus girls she gains a little more confidence and starts hanging out with Cleo less; Not to mention Layla's new friend Sloane doesn't seem to like Cleo at all and turns the other chorus girls against her. And Sloane ends up starting a rumor which really hurts Cleo and her family. While reading it I wanted to judge Cleo for This book was beautifully written though the pacing was a little slow at times. Cleo and Layla have been best friends for years. But once Layla starts hanging out with the chorus girls she gains a little more confidence and starts hanging out with Cleo less; Not to mention Layla's new friend Sloane doesn't seem to like Cleo at all and turns the other chorus girls against her. And Sloane ends up starting a rumor which really hurts Cleo and her family. While reading it I wanted to judge Cleo for how selfish she could be at times but then reminded myself that sometimes I have those same feelings of jealousy. I recognize that urge to not want to share a friend with everyone else. To feel a little possessive over them. But at the same time it seemed like Cleo wanted to hold Layla back. Like she couldn't handle Layla rising above her stutter and being the shining star for once. I think this books does a great job exploring all different types of loss and the building of different relationships.I received this book from Netgalley and Random House Children/Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.
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  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING by Ashley Woodfolk in exchange for my honest review.***4.5 STARSCleo and Layla are best friends. Until they arent. Cleo, jealous when Laylas world expanding with new friends and opportunities, sees her friends growth as rejection. She strikes out and Laylas friends strike back. Cleo escalates with a cruel comment about Laylas stuttering and things go from bad to worse.Friendships are complicated. Friends don ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING by Ashley Woodfolk in exchange for my honest review.***4.5 STARSCleo and Layla are best friends. Until they aren’t. Cleo, jealous when Layla’s world expanding with new friends and opportunities, sees her friend’s growth as rejection. She strikes out and Layla’s friends strike back. Cleo escalates with a cruel comment about Layla’s stuttering and things go from bad to worse.Friendships are complicated. Friends don’t come with with instruction manuals explaining how to handle conflict. Teenagers don’t have a breadth of experience navigating relationship difficulties. Cleo has the additional stress of her parents impending divorce, making her even clingier. I empathized with her on an intellectual level, but still found her pretty awful. I give Ashley Woodfolk a lot of credit fir creating such a complex usually unlikable narrator. Often I’ll read a novel where the protagonist seems to be the writer’s alter ego, a perfect heroine/victim. If Woodfolk sees herself in Cleo, she’s got to be incredibly insightful.WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING starts off with minor relationship infractions and escalates to OMG she did NOT do that. At times Cleo seemed to be comparing a paper cut to an amputation, her attacks were so personal cruel. Layla wasn’t the one escalating things, her new friend Sloane was the antagonist. Cleo, through her hurt, blamed Layla. The conclusion was my least favorite aspect of the story. I have nothing negative to say about it, just that for me it didn’t live up to the rest of WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING.WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING will resonate with anyone who’s ever been a teenager and had a friend.
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  • Rec-It Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    told in dual timelines of then and now, ashley woodfolk's newest masterpiece is about what happens when both sides of a friendship implode and how you can't put the pieces back together but you can make two new puzzles
  • Giulia
    January 1, 1970
    "Losing you wounded me. Probably more than you know. If I hurt you just as deeply, Im sorry."This was a somewhat refreshing story to read.Refreshing but not memorable, if I have to be honest. It does not happen that often that the focus point of a YA contemporary is not romance, and so when it actually happens you just gotta jump at the occasion and read the damn book.This was indeed a YA contemporary which heavily centered around friendship and what it means to stop being friend with your BFF "Losing you wounded me. Probably more than you know. If I hurt you just as deeply, I’m sorry."This was a somewhat refreshing story to read.Refreshing but not memorable, if I have to be honest. It does not happen that often that the focus point of a YA contemporary is not romance, and so when it actually happens you just gotta jump at the occasion and read the damn book.This was indeed a YA contemporary which heavily centered around friendship and what it means to stop being friend with your BFF – the one person you could not imagine your life without. And wow, isn't that one of the most painful feelings you could ever experience...The main topic being something more towards the platonic side of things was lovely to read and experience. There still was romance, but it was not the forefront of the story. It was a coming-of-age that tackled the deep pain the end of a friendship can cause.The characters were relatable and enjoyable. The writing style was good and the plot was smooth if maybe at times a bit too slow.But can you guess what I am about to say?Can you feel it in the air? Can you feel this sense of unease floating around?Would this even be a Rather Random Review™️ if things did not get awkward and slightly uncomfortable? As a matter of fact, in the air, there is my complete lack of actual interest towards the story.In the air, there is me being ever so slightly bored.In the air, there is how average everything felt for me. As I have said, I liked how friendship was the true protagonist of the story, but I thought that everything was just too childish and juvenile. The writing style was a bit too simple and the characters were too naive and sounded too young. For these reasons I would say that When You Were Everything inscribed itself in the lower side of YA. Which is not a bad thing, but it was simply not for me. Cleo sounded young and seemed young and acted young. Frustratingly so. And I simply could not, for the life of me, relate. I just could not. The childish/juvinile atmosphere and the trope-y romance did not vibe with me. The love interest was the new kid in town (which is a trope I do not particularly enjoy) and I thought the romance was a bit too sappy and cheesy. Call me heartless. Call me cold-hearted.Call me as you like, because if will not change the fact that I was not a fan of the romance. Anyhow.There was nothing remarkably bad about this book, but there was also nothing remarkably good.It was, with all the due respect, nothing to write home about.It was honestly pretty much forgettable. Harsh but true. It was a very much middle-of-the-road book, and I can already tell you I am forgetting almost everything about it. This was not bad, do not get me wrong! It was an enjoyable, easy read about the pains of an ended friendship. As a topic, I think that is massively overlooked in YA contemporary, which mainly goes around romance, so reading When You Were Everything was welcome. But I was not blown away, impressed or particularly engaged unfortunately. If you needed any more proofs regarding how cynical I can be, look no further. I am, indeed, a cynical, awkward potato. "Why should he decide when he wants to be my friend? Why does everyone else get to pick when they want to be close to me and when they don't? I'm sick of it."
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  • Melanie (bookswritinghappiness)
    January 1, 1970
    03-23-18 | I havent even read The Beauty That Remains yet and Im already super hype for another Ashley Woodfolk book : )04-29-18 | I just finished The Beauty That Remains and wow I can't wait to read more of Ashley Woodfolk's writing!! Also, I just realized how much this synopsis reminds me of I'll Give You the Sun, and I freaking love that book, so I have high hopes for When You Were Everything. Is it 2019 yet?? 03-23-18 | I haven’t even read The Beauty That Remains yet and I’m already super hype for another Ashley Woodfolk book : )04-29-18 | I just finished The Beauty That Remains and wow I can't wait to read more of Ashley Woodfolk's writing!! Also, I just realized how much this synopsis reminds me of I'll Give You the Sun, and I freaking love that book, so I have high hopes for When You Were Everything. Is it 2019 yet??
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    An immersive story about the dissolution of a close friendship. Cleo and Layla had been friends since they were 12, but as their junior year of high school starts, things fall apart. Told in "now" and "then" sections through Cleo's voice, we see all of the missteps that led to the end of what had once been a close relationship.I loved how Cleo is portrayed here. She's the one who made a lot of poor decisions about Layla, and Layla put her foot down in how she responded. But in no way does Cleo's An immersive story about the dissolution of a close friendship. Cleo and Layla had been friends since they were 12, but as their junior year of high school starts, things fall apart. Told in "now" and "then" sections through Cleo's voice, we see all of the missteps that led to the end of what had once been a close relationship.I loved how Cleo is portrayed here. She's the one who made a lot of poor decisions about Layla, and Layla put her foot down in how she responded. But in no way does Cleo's inability to maintain that friendship mean she can't be good at other relationships, which we get the chance to see. It's complex and messy and real. Both girls are girls of color, which is so rarely seen in friendship-focused stories. I cannot wait to see more books do this in YA, as Woodfolk has blazed a nice path for that to continue. Her storytelling is smart, her teens read like actual teens, and none of her characters are one-note. This is a quieter book, and I hope it doesn't fall through the cracks because of it. Readers who love We Used To Be Friends should absolutely pick this one up ASAP. I don't read a lot of books in their finished versions but I did this one, and I will say the editing left a lot to be desired. "Tucked in her ear" referring to earbuds was repetitive, and there was one chapter where it was mostly dark outside, then two lines later starting to get dark (which was it?). Those are things an editor should catch and it's a bummer they didn't. I want to say it wasn't distracting from a really great story but at times, it just was.
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  • Mana
    January 1, 1970
    4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐Love stories and breakups in fiction usually revolve around romantic love, but what about that deep platonic love? Friendships are deep and last years, but what happens when they're over? Society and media don't really explore what happens when friendships end. This book flips the script and tells the story of best friends breaking up.Chloe is our protagonist. At first, her love for Shakespeare is so cringy because what high schooler likes Shakespeare? Usually, one forced to read Romeo 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐Love stories and breakups in fiction usually revolve around romantic love, but what about that deep platonic love? Friendships are deep and last years, but what happens when they're over? Society and media don't really explore what happens when friendships end. This book flips the script and tells the story of best friends breaking up.Chloe is our protagonist. At first, her love for Shakespeare is so cringy because what high schooler likes Shakespeare? Usually, one forced to read Romeo Juliet, Hamlet, or Macbeth but Chloe knows her stuff. Her dad is a librarian in New York City, which explains her deep love and knowledge of literature. He walks on water to Chloe, but she learns reality doesn't always meet expectations.Our conflict is the falling out between Chloe and Layla, who started out the year as best friends. We have two parallel timelines: one where Layla is still friends with Chloe and another where they're not speaking. The mystery is the inciting incident that caused the two to split. When the timelines converge the focus becomes: how does one move on?This is a heartwarming and heartbreaking read. It's a book that I recommend for younger humans, especially. Adults can enjoy this too, but it may pull on our older heartstrings a bit more.This was a galley sent to me from the publisher for an honest review. Thank you so much for opportunity.
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    Layla entered her life at time when Cleo really needed her, and now, as her family was falling apart, she was gone. Once she was Cleo's everything, but now, they were veritable strangers.I am so happy to be seeing more and more of these friend breakup stories. I bet many people have experienced a painful end to what they thought was a lifelong relationship, and therefore, many will be able to relate to what Cleo was going through. In fact, my heart ached, often, as I read this book, because I Layla entered her life at time when Cleo really needed her, and now, as her family was falling apart, she was gone. Once she was Cleo's everything, but now, they were veritable strangers.I am so happy to be seeing more and more of these friend breakup stories. I bet many people have experienced a painful end to what they thought was a lifelong relationship, and therefore, many will be able to relate to what Cleo was going through. In fact, my heart ached, often, as I read this book, because I have been there, and it wasn't any easier watching it happen to someone else.Cleo was this "old soul", who I instantly loved. She adored The Bard, and was often found listening to classic jazz due to the influence of her beloved grandmother. Cleo was happy living in her bubble with Layla, but unfortunately, Layla was changing, and wanted to expand her social circle. This was a case of two people growing apart, and though there's no crime in that, both Layla and Cleo committed quite a few missteps, until their friendship reached a rather irreparable point.I loved the way Woodfolk took me back and forth, between the past and the present. I watched as, bit by bit, this once solid friendship unraveled until the bond was lost forever. Present Cleo spent a lot of time reflecting on what had happened, and what she did wrong, as she tried to rebuild her life without Layla. I felt like I was going through the stages of grief with her, which seemed really appropriate, as the death of a friendship can be such a profound loss for many.I found myself more sympathetic towards Cleo, since I was always the one left behind, but I also understood Layla's need to stretch her wings. Needless to say, Cleo's loss was deep, but it also led to some wonderful new things for her.Without Layla to rely on, Cleo began forming new friendships. She found people, who shared her passions, and appreciated her view of the world. She began to push herself, to put herself out there, working in the diner, and even finding some romance. This was not a smooth journey for Cleo. She was wounded and gun-shy. She was struggling with trusting and understanding why these people would want to be her friend. It was parts like these that pained me, but I understood her need for self preservation.I read another friend breakup story, not too long ago, and I feel like Woodfolk's was more successful for me, because of the amount of time spent on the post mortem part of the relationship. It was also more hopeful, and acknowledged that, though, a relationship had ended, it could still be an important part of your life.Overall: A relatable story of the demise of a relationship, which was painfully honest, but hopeful.*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Jessica Jeffers
    January 1, 1970
    I quite enjoyed this book, about the dissolution of a close female friendship. That's a hard situation for anyone to go through, especially when you're a teenager, and I appreciated that Woodfolk acknowledged how both of the main players in this drama were at fault. Both behaved poorly, both suffered hurt feelings, and the reality is that maybe they've just outgrown each other. It's a bittersweet, realistic, and very touching story. My only real complaints were that a) it ran a bit long, and I quite enjoyed this book, about the dissolution of a close female friendship. That's a hard situation for anyone to go through, especially when you're a teenager, and I appreciated that Woodfolk acknowledged how both of the main players in this drama were at fault. Both behaved poorly, both suffered hurt feelings, and the reality is that maybe they've just outgrown each other. It's a bittersweet, realistic, and very touching story. My only real complaints were that a) it ran a bit long, and some of the twists and turns near the end began to feel a bit like piling on, and b) I kind of wish the romantic storyline had been excised so that we could focus solely on the friendship. Not that I disliked the romantic story or anything, just that I loved how Bechdel-y this book could be and I felt like the love story wasn't necessary.
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  • Emily Murray
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Random House Children's & NetGalley for the e-ARC!This book was simultaneously captivating and hard to read. Romantic break ups get a lot of attention, but people rarely think about platonic break ups between best friends. Ashley Woodfolk really captured the essence of high school--and the high/low drama that can come with it. One of the things that kept me from giving this book 5 stars is that I'm not sure the main character, Cleo, really learned her lesson at the end it. I won't Thanks to Random House Children's & NetGalley for the e-ARC!This book was simultaneously captivating and hard to read. Romantic break ups get a lot of attention, but people rarely think about platonic break ups between best friends. Ashley Woodfolk really captured the essence of high school--and the high/low drama that can come with it. One of the things that kept me from giving this book 5 stars is that I'm not sure the main character, Cleo, really learned her lesson at the end it. I won't go into spoilers, but she did a pretty shitty thing and I never fully felt a sense of remorse from her, which just made me feel kind of icky. As much as I wanted to be on her side (because, yes, Layla was also a bad friend to her), there were a couple things I couldn't look past.There was one plot point/plot twist that happens partway through the book that also kind of made me roll my eyes (it seemed...very far fetched). It didn't necessarily detract from the book, but it also didn't really feel necessary to me.However, I really loved a lot of what this book brought to the table. It had loads of diversity, I loved Cleo's obsession with oldie music and Shakespeare, I loved the discussion of finding and making new friends. The relationship was very cute and I was all about it. Overall, there was definitely a lot more that I enjoyed than not. I think Ashley Woodfolk captures high school feelings so well and I'll definitely pick up more of her backlist titles soon!
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) When You Were Everything is a heart wrenching story about mistakes, friendship, and loss. The friendships and loss which hits us harder than any other relationship. When someone was a part of you - a piece of your soul - and they begin drifting away, they break apart. I knew from the beginning that When You Were Everything was going to be emotional, but it's also a love letter to (Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) When You Were Everything is a heart wrenching story about mistakes, friendship, and loss. The friendships and loss which hits us harder than any other relationship. When someone was a part of you - a piece of your soul - and they begin drifting away, they break apart. I knew from the beginning that When You Were Everything was going to be emotional, but it's also a love letter to the magic of New York City and to family. While When You Were Everything revolves around Cleo and Layla's friendship, the story focuses on Cleo's life - the moments where things begin crumbling - in her friendship with Layla, her own family, and her life. Those times when our house of cards seems to be attacked from all fronts and tipping on the point of collapse. I loved that from the beginning, Cleo's family is a huge part of the story. Looking into windows we think we understand, the secrets we keep from each other, the rose colored glasses. From page one, When You Were Everything is full of emotions and suspense as we wonder what happened between Cleo and Layla. The dual timeline writing style is fabulous at maintaining this tension - before and after - and I couldn't stop myself from reading more. What makes When You Were Everything so amazing, so memorable, is how Woodfolk doesn't make anyone out to be the culprit. We can't easily say if someone's actions were right or wrong, because we've all made mistakes. And this goes across the board, not only for Cleo, but all the characters.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Jeannette
    January 1, 1970
    What do you do when your best friend, the person who has always been there through everything, suddenly... isn't?That's the premise of Woodfolk's latest: Cleo, a teen girl with a love of Shakespeare, finds herself growing apart from her best friend Layla. At the same time, she's dealing with the dissolution of her parents' marriage, overtures from the new guy in school, and the possibility of achieving her deepest dream.This book hit me in the heart. Just like most, I've had those experiences of What do you do when your best friend, the person who has always been there through everything, suddenly... isn't?That's the premise of Woodfolk's latest: Cleo, a teen girl with a love of Shakespeare, finds herself growing apart from her best friend Layla. At the same time, she's dealing with the dissolution of her parents' marriage, overtures from the new guy in school, and the possibility of achieving her deepest dream.This book hit me in the heart. Just like most, I've had those experiences of feeling like I'm growing apart from someone I care about, and I love how Woodfolk approaches it. It's not a subplot while Cleo chases a boy or saves the world. This is what she's going through, and it makes all the other challenges of her life that much harder. It's an incredibly vulnerable feeling, and I love how she focuses on that.At the same time, Cleo ends up meeting new people and making new friends in her new social position. It's wonderful how Woodfolk shows how new opportunities can arise out of challenges and heartbreak. So many of us, adults as well as teens, forget that, but Cleo ends up creating a whole new support network. By the end, she finds herself stronger than she would have predicted.Some of the conflicts did stray into that, "why don't they just communicate better?" territory. I can't argue that too much, because that is reality sometimes. Regardless, I really enjoyed this, and I would definitely recommend it.*Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Children's Delacorte Press for an advance review ebook in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Cat
    January 1, 1970
    I'm sorry, but that was so weak. I loved Beauty that remains - emotions, characters having distinct voices, story line... But where The Beauty that remains was emotional and easy to feel, When You Were Everything is dull and distant. Yeah, I get it, it's about friendship - losing one, finding other. But why no one is talking about how Cleo deserved that? Girl. People grow apart, people change. You couldn't handle that, did something terrible, and even though you did apologize - Layla doesn't I'm sorry, but that was so weak. I loved Beauty that remains - emotions, characters having distinct voices, story line... But where The Beauty that remains was emotional and easy to feel, When You Were Everything is dull and distant. Yeah, I get it, it's about friendship - losing one, finding other. But why no one is talking about how Cleo deserved that? Girl. People grow apart, people change. You couldn't handle that, did something terrible, and even though you did apologize - Layla doesn't want to be your friend anymore. That's it. There's no need to play the victim. Of course, when someone you loved cuts you off, when they are not there for you when you need them - that hurts. But that doesn't mean you have to plot a revenge, especially not such a low blow, not when someone (in this case - Layla) just set up their boundaries and told you - I no longer want to be your friend.Some parts of the story were alright, but I can't get over the fact that Cleo is shown as a victim, that plot line was predictable as hell (at least to anyone who is familiar with high school life or teen dramas/shows/movies) and that the main problem - friendship falling apart - is based on such a petty reason.
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  • Julie Jaeger
    January 1, 1970
    "That's the thing about words: they can leave you both unscathed and completely gutted. Girls wage endless wars with their voices, tearing you apart without touching you at all (250)."In When You Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk captures all that is girl friendship. The way girls can feed each others' souls; the way girls can tear each other into pieces. Cleo and Layla's friendship is at the core of the story, moving between the then and now timelines seamlessly. Teens will identify with the way "That's the thing about words: they can leave you both unscathed and completely gutted. Girls wage endless wars with their voices, tearing you apart without touching you at all (250)."In When You Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk captures all that is girl friendship. The way girls can feed each others' souls; the way girls can tear each other into pieces. Cleo and Layla's friendship is at the core of the story, moving between the then and now timelines seamlessly. Teens will identify with the way they feel about each other, along with the way they treat each other. Need a book to read while sheltering in place? Order this one. Best way to forget the craziness that is going on in the world is to escape into the pages of a good book. And this one is a great book.
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my lord Jesus this book was absolutely brilliant! The main character goes through trials of losing friends and gaining more. She goes through her family being separated but, it was written so beautiful! Ashley Woodfolk knew what she was doing when she wrote this book and it was absolutely amazing. Its honestly leaving me speechless! Oh my lord Jesus this book was absolutely brilliant! The main character goes through trials of losing friends and gaining more. She goes through her family being separated but, it was written so beautiful! Ashley Woodfolk knew what she was doing when she wrote this book and it was absolutely amazing. It’s honestly leaving me speechless!
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  • Cristy
    January 1, 1970
    Full offense but how dare Ashley Woodfolk make me cry on my morning commute today!! If I had to read this and cry over having my friendship breakups reflected back at me then so do you. Thank you to the author for this extremely relatable story and for the unexpected ARC after our chat at a YA book event last month, I can't wait to read the published version ♥
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  • Sidney Ropp
    January 1, 1970
    This gives me complete I'll Give You the Sun vibes, and I've determined I need this book immediately.
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this novel through Net Galley for an honest review from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 4.5/5 stars CW: divorce, loss of a loved one, grief, death, bullying Rep: POC mc, Mulsim sc, Korean sc's queer sc's, stutter disability rep "Why should he decide when he wants to be my friend? Why does everyone else get to pick when they want to be close to me and when they don't? I'm sick of it" I feel so grateful to be given the chance to review this book early as Ashley I received an ARC of this novel through Net Galley for an honest review from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 4.5/5 stars CW: divorce, loss of a loved one, grief, death, bullying Rep: POC mc, Mulsim sc, Korean sc's queer sc's, stutter disability rep "Why should he decide when he wants to be my friend? Why does everyone else get to pick when they want to be close to me and when they don't? I'm sick of it" I feel so grateful to be given the chance to review this book early as Ashley Woodfolk is an author I adore. In her sophomore novel, she tackles the topics of divorce and platonic relationships. Friendship heartbreak and break-ups are such a common topic that happens to anyone of any age. Personally, I've had my fair share of friendships ending in the worst ways especially throughout my time in high school. So, I'm thankful for the story of Cleo and Layla. Told through Then & Now, we follow Cleo's perspective as she is trying to make new memories in place of her old ones to seal the wound her ex-best friend, Layla has given her. Cleo learns a lot about herself while she grieves the loss of her childhood friend who she parts ways with from an unexpected turn of events. I was cheering for her, tbh. I just love Ashley's writing and her characters. You will swoon over Dominick Grey and his smoothness. You'll want to eat a Dolly's diner just to see Lolly and Pop. Woodfolk writes their stories with such depth. I devoured this book! I wanted to punch Sloan as much as Cleo. Sloane made Cleo's life a living hell, which is the case for those who are bullied during their high school career. Layla's comments and her language toward Cleo, her once best-friend made me RAGE. But, Cleo stood tall and was so brave throughout the hardships she faced. Cleo was such a complex character to read about. I loved how passionate she was about London, her collection of snow globes and her love for Shakespeare. I loved reading about her daily subway routine and the places she visited in her hometown of New York. As well as the jazz artists she would listen to through her headphones. As I already mentioned, I devoured this book and I recommend it to everyone. At times it felt like a Brandy Colbert novel, so I would recommend it to fans of Brandy Colbert. But, as someone who loves grief in their stories, Ashley Woodfolk nailed it again.
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  • Teresa McWaters
    January 1, 1970
    Reading a book like this, a book that focuses on the ups and downs of friendship, was so refreshing to me. I feel like we don't get to see friendship-focused books nearly enough. Yes, there was a romance, but it took the backseat and allowed room for Cleo and Layla's story. I think friendship drama is something that everyone goes through in high school, but it isn't talked about nearly enough in YA literature so I'm glad this story is out in the world for people to read.Another thing I really Reading a book like this, a book that focuses on the ups and downs of friendship, was so refreshing to me. I feel like we don't get to see friendship-focused books nearly enough. Yes, there was a romance, but it took the backseat and allowed room for Cleo and Layla's story. I think friendship drama is something that everyone goes through in high school, but it isn't talked about nearly enough in YA literature so I'm glad this story is out in the world for people to read.Another thing I really liked about this book was the fact that Cleo wasn't written to be a perfect protagonist and Layla wasn't the only one in the wrong. When I first started reading I didn't like Layla at all and I couldn't believe that she would be so mean to her best friend. But as the story progressed I realized that both Cleo and Layla made mistakes in their friendship. They both did some horrible things to each other. That made for a much more realistic and human story. They were both very flawed and that's what made me sympathize with them. And I loved all of the side characters as well. Sydney and Willa were the best, Dom and Jase were both great, and I loved seeing Cleo's relationship with her parents as well.I won't give any spoilers about the ending but I will say that it wasn't what I expected it to be (in a good way). The ending that I was picturing was kind of clique and predictable but I was so satisfied and happy with the way that it actually turned out.I do have to say that this book had some John Green vibes to it at times. Cleo often quoted Shakespeare and carried around Othello with her at all times. There was even a flashback scene were Cleo was twelve and was quoting Hamlet in her head. I know for a fact that no twelve years old would be doing that. That didn't bother me too much but I now that type of teenage story can bother some people. I actually kind of enjoyed how Cleo took everything as a sign of something.With all that being said I highly recommend this book! It was a thoroughly enjoyable and important story about teenage friendship. I will definitely check out anything from Ashley Woodfolk in the future!*I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5*What happens when a friendship you thought you'd have forever breaks up? That is what When You Were Everything explores in brutal honesty and fabulous realism. And it's something that I imagine everyone can relate to. The loss of someone important to you, the grief of moving on without them. Cleo never thought she'd have to move on from Layla. Layla had been like a sister to Cleo You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5*What happens when a friendship you thought you'd have forever breaks up? That is what When You Were Everything explores in brutal honesty and fabulous realism. And it's something that I imagine everyone can relate to. The loss of someone important to you, the grief of moving on without them. Cleo never thought she'd have to move on from Layla. Layla had been like a sister to Cleo ever since Cleo lost her beloved grandmother.The author tells the story through dual timelines. We're with Cleo in the present, as she tries to rebuild her life without Layla, and we get glimpses of what lead to the demise of their friendship. The whole story felt so honest. Layla started hanging out with a new group of girls who, frankly, aren't very nice. Cleo is hurt, and acts out a bit. And it all devolves from there, in ways I won't tell you because I don't want to spoil it.But the gist is, Cleo has to find out who Cleo is. Without a person she thought would always be there for her, but on her own. She needs to figure out what sort of friend she wants to be, what sort of daughter she wants to be, and perhaps what kind of partner she wants to be. At first, Cleo tries to rewrite her memories- literally make new ones of the places and things she enjoys without Layla in them. But we know this is unsustainable, but Cleo must figure that out.As she continues her journey, she has the love and support of her parents, and there are a lot of family elements in the book as well. She also will meet a lot of new people who could be potential friends (or maybe more!) but Cleo needs to relearn how to let people in. That is so hard, and it's a lesson we all need to hear once in a while. Bottom Line:  Cleo's story is a powerful tale of love and loss and finding oneself again. When You Were Everything is perfect for anyone who has ever experienced a loss- that is to say, every one of us.
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  • Ciera ( bubblynbookish )
    January 1, 1970
    *Contains a few spoilers*Overall: A quick and heart pulling read for teens. I took a breathe at the end. This story set off a few memories with old friends I tucked away years ago.This is a beautiful story about the ending to a long-lasting friendship. This is a story about forgiveness, love, loss, and new beginnings. I didnt think I would stay hooked but I really really wanted to know what happened between Cleo and Layla. There was a lot of pettiness and typical high school banter, but the back *Contains a few spoilers*Overall: A quick and heart pulling read for teens. I took a breathe at the end. This story set off a few memories with old friends I tucked away years ago.This is a beautiful story about the ending to a long-lasting friendship. This is a story about forgiveness, love, loss, and new beginnings. I didn’t think I would stay hooked but I really really wanted to know what happened between Cleo and Layla. There was a lot of pettiness and typical high school banter, but the back and forth time line was a little much for me. I was impatiently trying to figure out what happened between the forever friends, and it looks like they are both at fault for many horrible things. Cleo is constantly saying she’s done Layla wrong, but an apology doesn’t come until later. After they both apologize to each other, Layla seems like the mature one. She even tells Cleo “thank you” for helping with her paper. But Cleo is still upset and lashes out at her again. They don’t have to be friends, I don't think anyone expects them to, but I wish they could be in the same space without animosity. I wish they could both be cordial with each other. The ending wasn’t clear enough for me to be at peace with how they’re going to be, but I guess that’s how life is, you never really know.I love that Ashley Woodfolk showed new friendships and a love interest without them being the focus of the story. Cleo's new friends are so supportive and I'm happy she learns to be open and honest about her feelings and actions going forward. Cleo was trying to figure out how to move on in life with so many woes hitting her at once. She lost people in different ways: her grandmother passing, her father being kicked out the house, and her best friend finding new friends (etc.). Things were changing and her world seemed like it was falling apart. But Cleo pushed through, did some things she's not proud of, and found new lights at the end. I would definitely recommend this book to any lost teen trying to navigate losing someone, especially a friend. Sometimes people grow apart. Sometimes things change. And sometimes it's best to move forward because there is always a group of new opportunities (friendships) waiting for you.I received this arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
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  • meghana
    January 1, 1970
    When You Were Everything ( Arc received from Net Galley) "Somehow I'm the girl who makes all the wrong choices, but I am also a girl who aches in every way to be wanted despite my mistakes "I requested this arc on a whim and it turned out to be something that came to me in the perfect time in my life. If you have been through a friendship breakup, toxic friendship, or even questioning whether you should cut someone out of your life, definitely check this book out.The story follows our main When You Were Everything ( Arc received from Net Galley) "Somehow I'm the girl who makes all the wrong choices, but I am also a girl who aches in every way to be wanted despite my mistakes "I requested this arc on a whim and it turned out to be something that came to me in the perfect time in my life. If you have been through a friendship breakup, toxic friendship, or even questioning whether you should cut someone out of your life, definitely check this book out.The story follows our main character Cleo who has broken up with her best friend, and we go back and forth from what caused the breakup and how she deals with it. I loved this format and how it keeps you on the edge. You see throughout the novel that Cleo is guilty and Layla ( her best friend) sounds awful but when you see the actual events you see that they are both just flawed complex people. Like any incident, there are always two sides to the story and to be able to read from such a frankly unreliable narrator was so fascinating. In addition to all of this, I loved Cleo's love for Shakespeare being sprinkled in and her friend Sydney. Sydney was the kind of friend everyone wants and deserves: loyal, adventurous and charming. I also adored Cleo's budding romance with Dom. I give this book a 4.5/5 💫 I am so excited to read more of Woodfolk's work and cannot wait for other people to pick this up!!
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  • Smileitsjoy (JoyMelody)
    January 1, 1970
    This book broke me! For once a book that addresses the complexities of friendships. Across cultures. During high school. Where romance isnt the main focus, although can we get a sequel cause i want to know more about Dom and Cleo lol!Anyway, the writing of this book is amazing. Its also a book that i would pair with reading of Shakespeare. It really highlights the main themes of the plays. I related so much to Cleo. I too hid away in books. Wore thick glasses. Didnt really have friends. Was left This book broke me! For once a book that addresses the complexities of friendships. Across cultures. During high school. Where romance isn’t the main focus, although can we get a sequel cause i want to know more about Dom and Cleo lol!Anyway, the writing of this book is amazing. It’s also a book that i would pair with reading of Shakespeare. It really highlights the main themes of the plays. I related so much to Cleo. I too hid away in books. Wore thick glasses. Didn’t really have friends. Was left out to dry. Saw my family torn apart by divorce. I think Woodfolk does an incredible job of telling an important story that should be told and needed to be told. There is strong character development. Just enough suspense. The plot lines and switching between past and present is seamless. Beautiful. I WEPT!
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  • Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing book about losing a best friend and moving on. I really related to the main character. She handled losing a friend the way I imagine most teens would.This book is told in dual timelines of then and now, and I think it works perfectly for the book. The then is when the MC Cleo and her ex-best friend Layla were still close but starting to drift. The now is Cleo moving on and trying to start a new life with Layla. I love the dual timelines and I love that you dont find out everything that Amazing book about losing a best friend and moving on. I really related to the main character. She handled losing a friend the way I imagine most teens would.This book is told in dual timelines of then and now, and I think it works perfectly for the book. The “then” is when the MC Cleo and her ex-best friend Layla were still close but starting to drift. The “now” is Cleo moving on and trying to start a new life with Layla. I love the dual timelines and I love that you don’t find out everything that happens until almost the end of the book. The only thing I didn’t love was the ending. It worked fine but it didn’t wow me in any way.
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