You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Available in Paperback January 1, 2017
Jayce’s older brother, Jake, was always a daredevil, accepting any dare and sometimes foolishly pushing to the limit. That’s how he died. Now, on the anniversary of his death, Jayce decides to visit one of his favorite places to explore, the old insane asylum. She is joined by four others, each needing to work out personal issues before embarking on the next stage of their lives.
You Were Here is probably one of the most compelling novels I have read in a while. Each character is riveting in their own way and, at times, it feels like you are watching a train wreck as emotions and people collide in a tsunami of dysfunction. Since the death of her brother, Jayce has been viewed by others as morbid, strange, and self-destructive. The progress of her life has been halted as she tries to become Jake.
Mik, Jake’s former best friend, and Natalie, Jayce’s former best friend, have secrets about Jake’s death that have been eating at them. Natalie’s is compounded by the fact that she deserted Jayce when they needed each other most.
Each character has a truth. They know how to push each other’s buttons. The intensity of emotions makes things raw yet even as they might try to shy from the wave, they are drawn to it to better understand themselves.
And before she’d learned that the worst things in life weren’t horrific accidents, but the things you did to the people you loved. Things that could make you unrecognizable to yourself.
Jayce and the others go on further adventures thanks to Jake’s map and journal of urban exploration. Each adventure enriches the story and results in understanding, both good and bad. By being on the end of fear, the characters become more themselves and open.
While You Were Here is certainly a novel of grief and its effects, of how a tragedy changes the people around it, and how each person reacts differently, it is also a novel of discovery–self-discovery–and trust and love and friendship. McCarthy writes with a great deal of insight into motivation and I found that none of the characters rang false. Even the ones that seemed like bullies were layered.
Fans of Sarah Dessen will find the same poetry of language and vision in Cori McCarthy’s writing. There were some beautifully written passages. I look forward to reading more.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: You Were Here
rating: (5 out of 5 butterflies)