The Space You Left Behind

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Pub Date Jun 01 2024 | Archive Date May 31 2024

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A hi-lo title, written in verse

Sixteen-year-old Cara has cerebral palsy. Self-conscious about her limp, Cara is convinced her disability is what causes boys to always place her in the friend zone. This summer, it seems to be happening again with her new crush, Josh. The two of them are huge fans of a popular mystery podcast and, as it happens, Cara has a real-life mystery of her own. She’s never been that curious about the donor who is her biological father, but now that Josh shows an interest in learning his identity, she’s all in. As Cara starts exploring, she stumbles upon a family secret that just might explain the feeling she’s always had that something important is missing from her life. But with this knowledge, her life may never be the same again.

A hi-lo title, written in verse

Sixteen-year-old Cara has cerebral palsy. Self-conscious about her limp, Cara is convinced her disability is what causes boys to always place her in the friend zone...

Advance Praise

"A compelling, fast page-turner of a book!" —Meg Eden Kuyatt, author of Good Different

"A compelling, fast page-turner of a book!" —Meg Eden Kuyatt, author of Good Different

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781978597051
PRICE $25.80 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 10 members

Featured Reviews

Excellent book about C.C., who has cerebral palsy, and when she meets cute Josh on the beach they start talking about a podcast series they both love. They talk and she tells him she doesn’t know who her dad is. Josh says let’s check out that guy on the beach who has the same red hair as yours. He also suggests she buy a DNA test. C.C.’s mom tells it’s best not to know who your father was. When C.C. finds a photo album she sees a picture is missing. When she searches for it, she finds out a secret. Will her mom tell her the truth? Will C.C. do the DNA test?

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I didn't expect this novel-in-verse book would have emotional plot twist while the rest is also brilliantly told in short poems. Each line seems to pack a punch, no frill, no fluff, straight to the point. To write something that can hook readers so easily must require such skills in storytelling as well as composing poetry.

The theme, the characters, the writing style, the verse format and title blend seamlessly to be one cohesive entertaining and inspiring story. I even looked back to page one after learning the plot twist, giving me a 'so that's why' moment for some things that has happened. It's, in a way, giving readers the feeling of solving mystery too like what C.C. and Josh was doing. I truly have nothing to say anymore except that I'm so glad I have read this and I hope you'll get a chance to read it too. It's more than just what it seems on the blurb, trust me.

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The Space You Left Behind is a really quick, heartfelt, and intriguing read! The novel in verse follows C.C. (Cara), who is 16 and has never had a boyfriend. She thinks part of this is because her cerebral palsy causes her to walk with a limp, and whenever boys realize, they put her in the friendzone. She also thinks not having a boyfriend is making her feel like there is something missing from her life. Over the summer, she befriends a boy named Josh who takes an interest in her because she doesn't know who her biological father is -- her mother used a donor. Even though she hadn't wanted to find her father before, she goes along with Josh because she wants to keep spending time with him. I really appreciated how this novel handled C.C.'s disability and family dynamics, and The Space You Left Behind does a wonderful job portraying the messy emotions of being a teen, like wanting a boy to like you or discovering secrets about your family that your loved ones hid from you, and how that can hurt even if they did with your best interests in mind. Highly recommend to YA readers looking for novels in verse with themes of complicated friendship, family, and secrets!

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Thank you to NetGalley, Rosen Publishing Group, West 44 Books, and Ona Gritz for the opportunity to read The Space You Left Behind in exchange for an honest review.

The Space You Left Behind is a HiLo novel written in verse. The writing is poetic and filling. Gritz' craft is exquisite in her execution of expression so much in a story with so few words. Brilliant!

This novel follows sixteen-year-old Cara, a girl with flaming red hair and mild cerebral palsy. She wants nothing more than for people to appreciate her for who she is and not what they see when it comes to her "bad" arm and her limp. Working at the library, she admires one of the patrons, a woman in a wheelchair who often comes with her husband. It inspires Cara that there is hope.
Between her friend Paige, Paige's boyfriend Mike, and their buddy Josh, Cara wants nothing more than a possible romance with Josh. Maybe that will fill this void that she has always felt. It could also be that she has never met her biological day. Perhaps finding him will fill the void?

Between figuring out romance and finding the beauty that she already is, a family secret reveals itself.
I absolutely love the works that West 44 Books puts forth. They are always diverse in some way, and I extremely appreciate and enjoy that. Even though Cara's case is mild, it is nice to get even a small glimpse into the perspective of someone with cerebral palsy and how they see the word. I loved the twist in Cara's void. 

With a lesson on friendship, family, love, and self-appreciation, this book is truly an iconic model for teen readers. Yet another highly recommended novel told in verse form.

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A cute heartwarming short verse novel about a 16 yr old girl who struggles with cerebral palsy, a budding crush, family, friends and secrets. It took me 20 minutes to read and it was so wholesome.

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Thank you so much to Rosen Publishing/West 44 Books and Netgalley to read and review.

C.C has always felt a space inside her but never knew what it was for, maybe that she yearned for a boyfriend to love her and fill it or maybe it’s that she doesn’t know her sperm donor dad. When a cute boy starts hanging out with her wanting to solve the mystery of her donor dad she finds the answer to the space inside her in an unexpected way.

I loved loved loved the disability representation with C.C. having cerebral palsy, but that it was just part of her, simple as that, love it so much and I love how she found her own ways with it to become more comfortable with who she was and even finding out more about why she had it. It was great, we also had Alice who was a great role model for C.C but also to other reading. I so loved that.

This story was so beautiful, she went on a mystery solving journey to figure out who she was, she learnt so much more than she ever dreamt of expecting to find and the missing part of her was so much more to take on. It was honestly such an unexpected but very sad and beautiful twist I really loved learning about who she really was.

I really like the people around her her best friend Paige though was a little too abrupt to share about her disabilities she really cared for C.C. her mom and grandma were so sweet and loving for her, though they kept a secret from her it was understandable why. And Josh was really sweet they both had a miscommunication, but he really cared about her which was really lovely and exactly what she needed.

I really enjoyed this story it was really nice and different, it had lots of disability rep which I loved, it’s showed it in a natural form which I also love reading. The characters were great and the mystery within the story was fascinating. It had so much heart, so much love and so much to unfold, this was an incredible verse book.

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This is a very quick read because it is written in verse. But that doesn't mean that you won't get a full, well thought out story. The author wove the main characters disability with her sense of something missing with having feelings for a boy. It was very well thought out and had many surprises.
I liked the writing style because for many of us, we don't have time or want to make the effort to read a lengthy book. This style helps move the story along while still keeping the reader's interest.

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A heartfelt coming-of-age story that's beautifully told in verse. I really like how the book is centered on Cara and her journey of self-discovery, while still highlighting important themes such as identity, family, grief, adolescence and more. The disability representation is insightful and I appreciate Cara's very authentic POV as someone living with cerebral palsy (and teenage angst).

An engaging read that I would definitely recommend.

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This was such a fun read! I love the disability representation and the unique perspective of the main character. I also loved how the mystery element heightened the emotional impact of this story. It was a true page-turner and kept me interested the whole way through!

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Potent and meaningful, this is a mini-coming-of-age written in verse and draws in until the last page.

Cara has cerebral palsy and walks with a limp. As a sixteen-year-old wishing to simply be like everyone else, it makes her more than a little self-conscious. When two cute guys approach her and her best friend at the beach, she fears that a sudden connection to one of them, Josh, will end up, once again, with her being stuffed into the 'friend zone'. But Josh surprises her and still approaches her even after he notices her disability. When he learns that she doesn't know who her real father is, he agrees to help her figure out the mystery and, maybe, help her fill the hole she constantly seems to have inside.

This is a beautifully written book. Each verse brings across the moment with emotion and clarity, while drawing in to an engaging tale. These are very short and, yet, make sure every word sits. Cara's feelings as well as each situation come across vividly and hold the right amount of tension and heart. It creates a seamless read, which draws in and allows the reader to get lost in Cara's world.

Not only does Cara's disability cause her problems in several ways, but she's battling self-doubt in the area of her home life. While her mother and grandmother offer amazing and caring support, they harbor a secret surrounding her birth and aren't eager to let Cara know the details. The friction is understandable and comes across realistically. While Cara spends most of the tale trying to learn the secret surrounding her father's identity, this takes a surprising twist and does bend the end in a completely different direction, which works very well, for the most part.

The romance is unsure and holds an important role while not overtaking the main story line. It's sweet and not over-bearing, and does carry an unexpected twist toward the end as well. But everything works out better and smoother than is often seen in YA romances. So, this was a nice surprise, too.

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