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If He Had Been with Me



"If He Had Been With Me" by Laura Nowlin is a poignant and emotionally charged novel that explores the themes of love, loss, and the complexities of teenage relationships. The story revolves around Autumn and Finny, lifelong friends whose relationship evolves as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.

Main Characters

  • Autumn: The protagonist, a thoughtful and introspective teenager, struggling with her feelings for Finny.
  • Finny (Phineas Smith): Autumn's neighbor and lifelong best friend, unaware of Autumn's deep feelings for him.
  • Jamie: Autumn's boyfriend, whose relationship with her undergoes various strains.
  • Sylvie: Finny's girlfriend, part of the unfolding drama between the main characters.

Plot Overview

The story unfolds with Autumn and Finny growing up as neighbors and best friends. Despite their close bond, they start to drift apart as they enter high school. Autumn begins dating Jamie, while Finny starts a relationship with Sylvie. However, Autumn harbors deep, unspoken feelings for Finny.

Tensions rise as Autumn grapples with her emotions and the evolving dynamics of her friendship with Finny. The situation complicates when Autumn breaks up with Jamie and Finny's relationship with Sylvie becomes strained. Throughout the novel, Autumn's internal struggle and her inability to confess her love to Finny take center stage.

The climax occurs when Autumn and Finny finally confront their feelings for each other, leading to a passionate yet complicated romance. This newfound relationship is short-lived, as a tragic event occurs: Finny dies in a car accident while being with Sylvie.

The novel concludes with Autumn dealing with immense grief and guilt, believing that if Finny had been with her instead of Sylvie, he would have been alive. She battles depression and contemplates ending her life but discovers she is pregnant, which brings a new perspective and a reason to live.


  1. Unrequited Love: The pain of loving someone who may not feel the same way.
  2. Friendship and Love: The fine line between platonic friendship and romantic love.
  3. Grief and Loss: Dealing with the tragic loss of a loved one.
  4. Self-Discovery: The journey of understanding one's feelings and identity.
  5. Regret and What-ifs: The torment of pondering over what could have been.

Writing Style

Nowlin's writing is emotive and descriptive, deeply delving into the protagonist's internal world. The narrative is compelling, drawing readers into Autumn's emotional journey, making them feel her pain, love, and loss.


"If He Had Been With Me" is a heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and the complexities of growing up. It beautifully captures the essence of teenage angst, the depth of first love, and the profound impact of loss. The novel leaves a lasting impression, underscoring the importance of honesty, communication, and cherishing every moment with loved ones.