Title: You Were Here
Author: Cori McCarthy
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 1, 2o16
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.
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.
Everyone who knows me knows that contemporaries usually aren’t my thing. I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to contemporaries, infinitely more unforgiving than I am with other genres. Why? I have no clue. I think I sometimes find myself bored with contemporaries, especially when they fall into the territory of “boring, mundane, every day life”. You Were Here was anything but mundane.
I was a little worried that this book would end up being a bit morbid, especially after reading the first chapter or two. However, You Were Here ended up being one of the most beautifully written stories of grief and finding oneself that I’ve ever read. The story follows Jaycee, a recent high school graduate who still lives in the shadow of her brother, Jake’s, death. After Jake died, Jaycee lost what made her Jaycee. Out of grief, she almost begins to become Jake. It’s only after her friends decide to try and help Jaycee find herself that she begins to come back to life.
This is a very character driven book. Though the story really centers around Jaycee getting her own identity back, each character is going through his or her own trials in life, which we see in the different perspectives, sometimes in different multimedia formats (comic strips, art). You’re really able to grow and sympathize with the characters, and you almost feel like you’re taking this journey of self discovery with them. Each and every character is deeply flawed in some way (I wanted to throttle Jaycee a few times), but they’re all ultimately easy to connect to and lovable in their own way.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, without hesitation. Five out of five stars, all the way.