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When You Were Everything follows the breakup of two best friends, Layla and Cleo. At the start, readers are not yet introduced to the conflict and what happened between them. Layla is a spunky girl who always stands up for what she believes in. However, she has a speech impediment which often causes her to stutter. She loves to sing because that is one of the only times in which she stops stuttering and lets her beautiful voice flow. Cleo is an introvert who would rather curl up with a good Shakespeare play than go out. She is timid. Layla and Cleo make a good team because they have known each other for a long time.
I enjoyed When You Were Everything because it focuses on a friendship breakup and shows the real problems people face when they lose an important relationship in their life. I also liked the diverse main characters: Cleo is a young black woman and Layla is a Bengali American. This book also gives an insight into family hardships because Cleo’s parents are split. We get to explore all the problems she faces because of this and how it changes her life to give her a new normal. When You Were Everything examines how people change and grow on their own, the lasting pain of hurt, and how you might try to hold on to something that is dissolving below you. - Tanya H. (Sunset Teen Volunteer)