Monday, March 7, 2016

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

From Amazon:
Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations.

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn't: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother's death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake's daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She's not crazy, okay? She just doesn't have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn't expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she's joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and... Mik. He doesn't talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy's gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world's largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

"You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together."-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry's and Read Between the Lines

"The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them―and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters' stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!" ―Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

Rating: 5 Stars
I received an Arc of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. To be honest I didn’t know much about the novel going in. I received an email from NetGalley recommending this book to me and decided to give it a try. I am so happy I did because this instantly became a favorite contemporary.

I was completely blown away by how much I adored this book. The story is told in multiple POVs. McCarthy gave each character a unique and distinct voice, switching between first person to third person, to graffiti art and graphic novel form of expressions, allowed the reader to deeply and intimately get to know each of the characters. The book deals with a very heavy subject matter: grief following the death of Jake, Jaycee’s brother, a daredevil starved for an adrenaline rush, who on the day of his high school graduation tragically dies while performing a daredevilish dare. The story shows how grief affects everyone differently and how each individual copes with it in their own way. While the subject matter is heavy, as we follow our characters on their journey of healing, the overall feeling throughout is uplifting and sweet.

The story starts on the fifth anniversary of Jake’s death with Jaycee revisiting one of Jake’s favorite places, an abandoned mental institution where she knows she will meet with Mik, Jake’s childhood friend, whom she meets every year on the anniversary of Jake’s death.

Even though it’s been five years since Jake’s passing, Jaycee hasn’t been able to overcome his death and is now wearing his clothes, sleeping in his bed, recreating some of his stunts, and visiting his old stomping grounds all in an effort to still feel him  as a part of her life. On his death’s anniversary when she is on her way to the abandoned mental institution she ends up being joined, despite her loud objections, by her ex-best friend Natalie, Natalie’s boyfriend Zach, and Zach’s best friend Bishop.

The story is built around different relationships the characters share, such as Jaycee and her ex-best friend Natalie. Natalie abandoned Jaycee after Jake’s death and since then their friendship has been completely ruined. I don’t want to spoil the story, but there are so many different facets to this novel. We have Jaycee and Jake, Natalie and Zach, Zach and Bishop, Mik and Natalie, Jaycee and Natalie, Bishop and Natalie, and so much more. The intricate relationships built in the story were absolutely astounding. I was rooting so much for my favorite ships, for broken friendships to be fixed and just for overall healing.

Cori McCarthy is an amazing writer with an astonishing ability to create beautifully developed characters with relatable flaws and issues that will forever stay with me. I will most definitely re-read this book over and over again and will recommend it to pretty much everyone I know. You Were Here is a captivating beautifully written story, full of depth, and an overall fantastic read. 


  1. I totally agree! I loved this book!

  2. Great review. I might just have to give this one a go.