Synopsis: 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 parts of herself that she buried with her brother. Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panes and word art poetry. 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.
Date Finished: 10/28/15
*I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Before I even get into this review, let me just say that the cover designer for this book did something absolutely amazing in the design of it, something that you’ll understand completely if you read the book and then look back at the cover again. That being said, let’s get into the actual content of the book itself.
You Were Here is a book that grips you from the first emotionally charged page and holds you throughout. It takes a few chapters to get used to the way the author presents our characters: Jaycee’s chapters are told from a 1st person POV, Natalie and Zach’s are told from from the 3rd person POV, Bishop’s are told through his art, and Mikivikious’s are told with graphic novel style art. However, once you get used to the characters and their methods of story telling, it’s really a fantastic read, especially when you realize that while Jaycee is the character mentioned in the synopsis, she isn’t our only protagonist, nor is she the only one with problems. Cori McCarthy has done a phenomenal job of weaving together the storylines and making it so that all of the characters are equally developed and important. This might be Jaycee’s journey, but Zach, Natalie, Bishop, and Mik are all along for the ride with meaningful things to contribute.
Throughout the novel we see themes of grief, friendship, guilt, and recovery. We see friendships fall apart and come back together, and it’s a beautiful exploration of grief and the way it affects both the individual and the people all around them. Again, Cori McCarthy has crafted a beautiful coming of age novel that many young people need to read. While grief is a main theme in this novel, seen mainly in Jaycee’s actions to preserve the memory of her brother, there are so many other themes and motifs that young adults, especially those going off to college soon. The fear of the unknown, the end of relationships, and the consequences of our actions all come up in this emotionally packed novel.
I would definitely recommend this to fans of young adult contemporaries. Fans of Jessi Kirby’s Golden or John Green’s Looking for Alaska will fall in love with Cori McCarthy’s newest novel, available on 3/1/16. You should definitely add this one of your TBR list, as this might just be one of the most talked about novels of 2016. And when you get your hands on it, make sure to check out the beautiful and significant cover when you’re done reading it!