(Review) You Were Here
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 400 (kindle)
My Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
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 Jaycee 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
I wasn't too sure about what I was getting into with this one considering the synopsis. It sounds like a bunch of kids doing silly things and getting into trouble and, well, that's partially correct.
Jaycee and her "friends" have just graduated high school and are trying to figure out what to do with their lives. Kind of. Jaycee doesn't have any plans. She insists on playing the "dead brother card" even though her brother has been gone for five years. Jaycee lives in the past, though. She sleeps in Jake's room and wears his clothes and thinks about nothing else.
That is, until, Natalie, Zach, and Bishop show up one night. They join Jaycee on the anniversary of Jake's death to explore one of his favorite broken down places. (Jake was into urbexing and stunts.) Afterward, Natalie (who is a little scary with her determination) is ready to push Jaycee back into being best friends and the guys love the adventure. Once Jaycee finds Jake's old journal and map of the places he liked to go, it's on. Jaycee wants to visit each place and "find" Jake, and the others are long for the ride.
I think I liked this book so much because each character has their own very serious flaw and the writing of their perspectives (it's told from five POVs) is very real. When you're in that particular character's narrative they are completely open and honest. Even though Bishop's and Mik's POVs are artwork and a graphic novel, you can still sense everything about them.
Each of them has their own demons they are fighting and being together helps them sort them out, in a roundabout way. My favorite interactions were Jaycee's and Natalie's because you so just want them to be best friends again. It was really cool to watch their friendship mend itself even though they pretty much fought the entire book. I also liked reading Zach's POV. Everyone thought he was a little simple, but when he finally talked about his behavior it made a lot of sense. As someone who was a child of divorce I related to him a lot. Mik (or Ryan) was a really, really cool character. There were a couple of swoony moments and, for a YA boy, he was definitely a different type. I liked him a lot.
I loved the way this story began about Jake and eventually moved away from that. I think Jaycee realizing the truth about her brother and herself was written well. The character growth with all of the characters was well-written and played out nicely.
Definitely check this one out in March.
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the ARC.