I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1st, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Romance, Young Adult
Source: The Publisher
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Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?
On the anniversary of her daredevil brother's death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake's favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.
As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn't bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.
I knew once I saw You Were Here – it would be something I loved. But I didn’t expect to be blown away by its honesty & amazing characters that pulled on the heart-strings.
You Were Here is told from the POV of all five characters, Jaycee, Natalie, Zach, Bishop and Mik. What makes it unique was the formatting. It’s blend of first person, third person, art (like graffiti) and a graphic novel. It was brilliant for many reasons – but I have to point out how flawless it all flowed. A lot of times with multiple POVs, they can blend together; never really connecting with any of the characters. So not only did the unique formatting help with that, Cori writes ALL of her characters with unique voices. It was just, brilliant.
You Were Here touches on many heavy and emotion subjects. Death. Addiction. Grief. Heartbreak. Each character is flawed; dealing with their own issues when they all come together on the anniversary of Jake’s death. It was fascinating how their lives intertwined, and although the summer spent together was not the easiest for them all, the support and friendship helped each one heal in their own way, and move on.
Of all the characters, Jaycee was my favorite. She is still grieving for her brother Jake, and makes it her mission to complete the dares he did before his death. Her brute honesty made for some harsh realities for some of the characters, but I loved it about her. She tells it like it is. Quite honestly, she was broken. She hadn’t been living since her brother’s death and seeing her break out of that grief, face her fears was hard at times. Add in her conflicting feelings with Mik, and this girl was a mess.
Mik was one of Jake’s friends from before. There are some secrets revolving around him and the night Jake died, and it was all hard for Jaycee to cope with. He’s shy, even being a select mute, and because of his feelings for Jaycee, didn’t talk to HER much. Which in turn frustrated her. Anyway, it was hard for Jaycee to see the man Mik had become, not just he boy he was, and it seemed at every turn she was hurting him. Some of it, intentional because she didn’t understand her feelings for him and didn’t know HOW to handle it. In any case, I adored them and ship it! But Mik’s constant support, patience and love for her just.. makes me happy!
Natalie and Zach are another hot mess. Natalie was Jaycee’s best friend before Jake’s death and Zach is her on again off again boyfriend. These two are the perfect examples of co-dependency. Natalie has this… “I am better than you” attitude and her condescending remarks frustrated me on many levels. She too, is holding secrets of her own and we don’t really get WHY she pushed Jaycee away and how Jake’s death affected her. Zach has family issues that we get an up close look at, and his fears of being left behind and alone drive his him to his drinking, and his dependency on Natalie. You can tell they DO love each other, but man. Bishop was a more behind the scenes character to me. He is dealing with heartbreak over a girl and is preparing to leave for college over the summer but was somehow always SEPARATE in my mind. Not saying he doesn’t play a part – because he does – but not has hard and heavy as the others.
Again, these characters are FLAWED.
I could go on and on about these characters, especially Jaycee and Mik. Cori did an amazing job handling the multiple heavy subjects. The building and rekindling of friendships has a HUGE impact on all of us, and she brings that beautiful journey to life with these characters. It’s an emotional, powerful book that I recommend to everyone.
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Read an Excerpt
“What do I see?” I asked, turning back to the halo effect created by Margaret’s splayed hair. “It was a game. She died because she was playing a game.”
“Just like Jake,” Natalie said.
“Right,” I quipped, trying to mask not only my annoyance at Natalie’s psychoanalyst tone but also a flare of grief. My chest grew tight. Why wouldn’t it go away? Why did all this still buckle me to the ground? Tears burned my eyes, and I took my hair out of my ponytail. This never happened when I came here with Mik. Mik didn’t talk or prod. Mik let me be while we walked around Jake’s old haunt, wondering if he was actually haunting it.
“My dad said that OU will raze the TB ward.” Bishop pointed out the window toward the building on the very top of the hill, by far the spookiest and most unkempt in The Ridges compound. “It’s the only fully abandoned building.”
“Raze?” I asked, suddenly angry. “When?”
“End of the summer, I think. My dad said it was going to cost a ton but that leaving the old building there while it was falling in is just asking for lawsuits.”
“Jake loved the TB ward,” I said. “They haven’t stripped it down like this building.”
“TB?” Zach asked.
“Tuberculosis,” Natalie said.
Bishop squinted at his friend. “TB has been one of the leading terminal diseases in society since the dawn of civilization, Zach.”
“But it doesn’t exist anymore,” Zach said. “Like leprosy.”
“It totally exists,” Natalie said. “And so does leprosy. Where do you learn these things?”
“TB is still the leading cause of death for all people with HIV,” Bishop said. “But don’t worry, Zach. You won’t get it.”
I was surprised to find Zach looking at me. “What kind of things are in there?”
I shrugged. “I’ve never been, but I know it’s more dangerous. All the windows and doors are boarded up to keep drunk undergrads out.”
“So there’s no way in?” Bishop asked.
I shook my head. “Didn’t say that. Every building in The Ridges compound is connected by basement tunnels. If we get into the basement, we can get into any building.”
We all shuffled to our feet and stood around the last portrait of Margaret Schilling.
“I’m in,” Bishop said, and I nodded. Bishop was cool; we’d been partners for two semesters straight in woodshop. He said odd, grandiose things sometimes, but I liked him for it. Plus there was a pretty good chance that Mik would show himself with only Bishop around.
“I’ll take you two to the exit,” I told Natalie and Zach.
“Well, hey,” Zach said. “What if I want to come?”
Natalie looked at him, stunned. “You want to go? What about Kolenski’s three kegs?”
“Kolenski gets kegs every couple of weeks.” Zach shoved his hands in his pockets. He had sobered up since they’d entered The Ridges, and now he just looked worn down. Even his hair had flattened. I’d written him off years ago, but the way he’d helped me find Jake’s footprint and waylaid Natalie…maybe he wasn’t such a garden-variety “dude.”
“Who else can say that they did this the night after graduation?” he added with a shrug.
“So Natalie’s the loose end?” I said. “Big surprise.”
“Wait a second. It was my idea to follow you in the first place. And I…I want to see it.”
“Really?” Zach asked her. “Even if it’s dangerous?”
“I’m going to minor in history. It’ll be like walking around inside of history.”
I knew Natalie well enough to know that she was deluding herself, but when I opened my mouth to point it out, I saw something instead. Bishop did too.
“Apple.” He pointed to the ground. “Guys. There’s an apple.”
A shiny, green Granny Smith apple sat in the doorway. I picked it up.
“Where the hell did that come from?” Zach asked, fear trilling his voice. “Is someone else here? That wasn’t there a few minutes ago, right? Right?”
They all looked up and down the hall. Nothing.
“Maybe Jake’s ghost put it there. Or Margaret’s,” I said. A thump of what could only be described as happiness resounded through my chest. It was foreign and weird, and yet welcome.
“You’re smiling,” Natalie said. “Why are you smiling? You never smile.”
I rubbed the apple on my shirt and took a huge crunching bite. Natalie looked like she was going to pass out. I winked. “This way to the basement.”
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Tonyalee is an avid reader, gym junkie, coffee addicted workaholic, and blogger. Be sure to follow on Twitter & Instagram for random shenanigans.