I received this book for free from NetGalley 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, Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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.
You Were Here is a book that I hadn’t heard much about, but when I saw the cover I immediately wanted to read it. When I gained access to it on NetGalley, I wasn’t expecting much going into it but I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and emotion of this story.
Since her brother died years ago, Jaycee has lived her days almost being him. She wears some of his shirts and never turns down a dare. Jaycee’s brother died after he graduated high school when he was dared to do a back flip off of the top of the swingset, a dare he’d done many times, and he snapped his neck. This scarred Jaycee and on the anniversary of his death, her and her friends end up partaking on an adventure of sorts following in his footsteps with his old best friend Mik. Told from the point of view of Jaycee, her friends, and Mik, we see how Jaycee finally reconciles her past, forgotten relationships and eventually comes to terms with what happened to her brother.
Jaycee, at first glance, is this badass chick who doesn’t take shit from anyone. This is in her tomboy style and ‘I don’t care’ attitude in the way she accepts dare after dare. Once we learn a bit about Jaycee however, we see that she’s living her life almost just because, since in her opinion she’s living to outlive her brother. Now that the day has come that she’s outlived him, she’s forced to face some facts about her future and what she wants out of it, but she finds it impossible to look to the future when she’s still so haunted by the past.
Natalie was Jaycee’s best friend growing up but after Jaycee’s brother died, Natalie and Jaycee drifted apart. Natalie’s goal when she sees Jaycee that night is to reconcile their friendship before she leaves for college. But Natalie’s secret is that she witnessed Jaycee’s brother’s death and lied about it because it scarred her too. She ultimately left her friend to deal with it alone. Bishop is a wounded soul with a broken heart. Zach is Natalie’s long-time boyfriend and he worries that when Natalie leaves for college, she’s going to dump him. He’s a sweetheart but can be a little bit of an idiot. Mik is Jake’s old best friend, meaning he’s known Jaycee since they were very little. Mik doesn’t talk because of his social anxiety, but Jaycee and him meet up every year on the anniversary of Jake’s death and he becomes the one person Jaycee can comfortably talk to. He may have grown apart from Jake in his last few years of life, but his feelings for Jaycee never wavered once.
The plot of this book is pretty different from contemporaries I’ve read in the past. It’s like an almost road-trip, re-journey sort of tale. Jaycee uses her brother’s old notebook which has a list of all his extreme dares and wanderings to follow in his footsteps, in each new place looking for a sign that he was there, a mark on the wall or a bare footprint left in the dust. That being said, there were ups and downs in the plot and some random events that made it a somewhat jerky read for me in terms of pacing.
I can get on board with the romance of this book as it was very sweet. Jaycee and Mik both secretly liked one another for quite a while, but neither of them feel like they are good enough or can be with the either. Jaycee is worried that Mik only likes her out of a sense of duty to her brother and then she’s also plagued by the thought of him being almost like a brother to her. Mik’s social anxiety makes it so difficult for him to communicate with Jaycee and even when he does, he’s worried that he’s not good enough for her. It’s kind of trope-y, these two ending up together, the best friend and the sister, but in this book it didn’t really read trope-y because it was well-written and developed.
Overall, the writing was great and I especially liked how distinct the different point of views were. I feel like this is a young adult that tells about how teenagers deal with death and growing up in a different way. I, personally, know that I haven’t read another book like this one. It got very deep at times, which surprised me. More importantly, this book wasn’t your stereotypical ‘once I have a boy who likes me, everything is better’ contemporary book. Ultimately it’s the friendships that help Jaycee throughout this journey. They’ve always been there on the sidelines and in the shadows, but the events of this book brought them to the forefront.
“…and you know, deep down, we’re all liars, Jaycee, but we don’t all have the courage to admit it.” -61% through eARC
Review in Review:
I liked You Were Here. I wasn’t expecting much out of it but was surprised to find that I did like it. It’s a story about a girl who misses her brother and how she finally comes to terms with his death. Throughout this process, she realizes she has friends who care for her and an admirer her cares even deeper for her. If you like contemporary romances and the brother’s best friend and brother’s sister trope doesn’t put you out, then give You Were Here a try.
About the Author:
Cori McCarthy’s first job was as a zombie at Geauga Lake Amusement Park. Only slightly less strange, she now writes books for a living. Cori studied creative writing at Ohio University but mostly spent her time daydreaming about The Ridges. She also holds a postgraduate certificate in screenwriting from UCLA and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find out more about her other books, Breaking Sky and The Color of Rain, at her website.