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Posted June 4, 2013
I will have to admit that when I first started reading this book
I will have to admit that when I first started reading this book, I really was not sure it was for me. I had to take a moment to pause after a couple of chapters and reflect on why I was feeling this way because it is beautiful writing, and a really interesting story. Then I figured it out, the first thing being it was told from a male perspective, and I have not read a lot of books from this point of view before. The next thing is that the first real basis of the story is a child grieving the loss of his Mother, fortunately, I have not experienced this. I will have to admit though, I think Daisy Whitney hit the emotions pretty dead on in some ways. Danny has a way of trying to deal with this that has made it so that his emotions are pretty numb, so when I thought that he was pretty emotionless, I had to remind myself as to why.
He is also struggling with the fact that he is still madly in love with his ex-girlfriend Holland, but she broke his heart once before, and has suddenly come back in to his life after his Mother passes away, and he does not know how to deal with her being there. He needs her, but he does not want to admit it as he is still angry at her for leaving him with almost no word. We do learn during the novel why she did this, and it is a very serious situation as well, so when Danny finds out finally, I thought for sure he is going to crack, but he does not. We see how Holland has had to deal with it, and find out why she made the decisions that she did, and I was rooting for them to make it through, I could feel their chemistry and knew that they still loved each other very much!
I give Danny a lot of respect for being able to pick up from his life in California to take a trip to Tokyo, where his Mother (now he) owns an apartment, especially with leaving his dog back home, as we all know, sometimes pets can be the best companions in our times of need. One of the main reasons that he goes to Tokyo is to meet the Dr that his Mom had been going to visit once a month during the last few months of her life, and why she felt the need to go there, and find out what this magical cure was that he was helping her with. There is a lot that happens during his trip, and it is not all good. We see Danny grow tremendously through this story, and find out that what may look one way to you, looks and is completely different to someone else, and we really need to calm down, and communicate with those close to us to truly understand where the other one is coming from.
Though he goes on this trip for his Mom, it turns out that it is more a trip for himself to get some closure, and some of it he refuses to believe at first. I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed this book, it may not be very long (under 300 pages), but it packs a whopper of a punch as far as story line, and just when I think someone is going to crack from all the pressure, their light bulb goes off, and they start to see things completely differently from what they originally did. I have yet to this day found a book that can make me cry, but this one got my emotions going more than any other in recent history. I highly suggest this novel for anyone looking for a contemporary with a lot of meat to it, also anyone going through the loss of a loved one, I think it would really help with trying to see all sides, and that even though it may feel like the end of the world, it may just be a new beginning to a different kind of world for them.
I also have Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds on my shelf, and just have not had the time to read it yet, and after reading this story, it is going to be made a priority on my to be read pile. A wonderful piece of art, it gets a 5/5 from this (now) very emotional reader!
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Posted November 26, 2013
Posted November 22, 2013
3.5 Stars After losing her five-year battle with cancer and dyin
3.5 StarsWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
After losing her five-year battle with cancer and dying 3 weeks short of her goal of seeing Danny graduate, his mom is gone. I find this so heartbreaking. Danny is Valedictorian, he is trying to deal with his mom’s estate, and he’s an emotional wreck. Danny ends up traveling to Tokyo where his mom was getting treatment, for answers, for closure, for understanding….I don’t know if he really knows himself what he is truly seeking. He passes through the stages of grief while in Japan, a place where Danny traveled with his mom frequently. He makes a new friend, grieves the loss of an old girlfriend, only to have her reopen wounds that aren’t fully healed, all the while trying to overcome his loss and come to an understanding as to why his mom died. In the process, he surprisingly learns how to love, laugh, and live again, and also how to let go. When You Were Here is a wonderful emotional read that will touch your heart and soul.
Posted November 19, 2013
My goodness. There are very few books that make me cry just with
My goodness. There are very few books that make me cry just within the first few chapters. And this one…this one hit me in the heart fast.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Plot: As a parent of a little boy, I can’t imagine dying right before his graduation. But this plot…this plot grabs the reader right away. The range of emotions thrown at the reader along with the twist of death, you can’t resist it. I read this book in under a few hours. And let me tell you, it stuck in my mind afterwards.
Death: I think I related to this book so much because I’m a parent. Now, I’m not trying to be morbid but I do think how would my son take it if I were to die early. Would he understand? Would he be angry? And all of questions were answered through the mind of Danny. Danny, a wonderful teenage by faced with an onslaught of bad karma. I felt his emotions and thoughts come in clearly. I could see, feel and hear every emotion that rocked through him. The anger that coursed through his veins when he thought of everything that he experienced. Hell, even I was angry. This author did a fantastic job, capturing the voice of teenage boy facing hard times.
Love: Even though this book is full of bad events, I felt like this little tidbit in Danny’s life is important. It gave the reader that small chance of hope. That there can be peace for this character even in the midst of all the trouble.
Ending: The ending I felt was fitting. Everything felt completed yet the reader knows that it is not the end for Danny. Life sucks, yet we can move on.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed this book. I loved reading it and feeling my heart flutter in my chest with every turn of the chapter. When You Were Here is a great mix of edgy plot and lots of emotions. A wonderful tale with a journey that is sure to bring you to tears, When You Were Here is superb.
Posted July 25, 2013
When You Were Here was definitely different than most contempora
When You Were Here was definitely different than most contemporary novels out there, but it was a great different. From a boy's point of view, Danny has lost everything in his life. His father died six years ago. His mother has been fighting cancer for the last 5 years, and has dies just before his graduation. His adopted sister has lost most contact with him when she decided she wanted to learn more about her "roots" and live in China. Danny is all alone in a house in California. His mother's best friend, Kate, lives right next door and is always there to take care of him. Ofcourse, there has to be the girl next door, and that would be Kate's daughter! Holland and Danny were actually dating a while ago, but things just changed later on.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
As simple as this story might be, it was definitely peaceful. Just reading about Danny's journey of unraveling secrets about his dead mother was just beautiful. This book was set in one of my favorite places in the world, and it's Japan. I was thrilled to know that there was a large portion of this book set in Japan. I've never been there, but I've watched and read too many things about it to not know how amazing of a place it is. It's my dream to travel there, and just reading about it was so much fun! Anyways, Danny decides to travel to Tokyo because he had an apartment there to take care of. Danny also decided to travel to figure out why his mother always felt happier there. The description of the tea houses and the harajuku girls and the busy nights was just amazing. I completely loved it. As the story went on, it was interesting to understand why his mother felt peaceful in Japan. Throughout the days, Danny was able to find out day by day more things about his mother's days in Tokyo.
I loved Danny's dog, Sandy Kaufman. She was always the one who lights up the mood of the book. I love animals so it was so much fun to get to know Sandy Kaufman as more than just a "dog". There's also Kana, the amazing Japanese girl who becomes a very close friend to Danny. Overall, this book was beautiful in many ways. It's more to the realistic fiction, as it more concentrates about one finding his inner peace. This was a great read, and I cannot wait to get my hands on future books by Daisy Whitney!
Posted June 25, 2013
I Also Recommend:
Great books are always harder to review than ones I don't love a
Great books are always harder to review than ones I don't love as much. Words escape me, or aren't quite right. This isn't the first time author Daisy Whitney has me at a loss for words, and I'm sure it won't be the last, either. She's an extremely gifted writer whose books need to become more well-known in the world.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
WHEN YOU WERE HERE may scare some people away initially because it's about loss and grieving, but it is about so much more, too. It is a book of triumph, of overcoming loss, of learning to live again. There are so many layers to loss, it's never black or white, this or that. When new loss is layered atop old loss, it's even harder to get out of your dark place and embrace life. Main character Danny goes through so many stages of loss and the grieving process, and he does it all in Japan, one of the perfect places to go when grieving. There is so much philosophy and legend built on loss and life in the Japanese culture. They bloom for such a little time and die so fast, but are beautiful for the time they're alive. Fallen samurai on the battlefield were often linked to cherry blossoms. There's even a sad story about a loyal dog named Hachiko, who went to the train station every day after his owner passed on. As soon as I heard that Daisy had a book about loss taking place in Japan and that the main character had a beloved dog of his own, I begged her to somehow include Hachiko...but she already had! Hachiko is that integral to a book on grief. Even if you've never been to Japan, you'll feel like you have after reading this book; I wanted to go back (I lived in Japan for two years) and eat delicious Harajuku crêpes, take part in hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing Parties), go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, and do everything right alongside Danny. I missed Japan so much reading this, so if you've never been, I truly think you'll be able to embrace the atmosphere and be there anyway.
The whole book doesn't start out in Japan, however. Danny and his mom live in Los Angeles, California, but often travel to Japan to visit. They travel so frequently that they own a little place there. Danny's mom has been struggling with cancer for years, and her last wish was to see her son graduate. Sadly, she died two months before she could see her goal come to fruition, never saw him announced Valedictorian. He's shut out everyone in his life, especially his ex-girlfriend Holland. He no longer cares about anyone or anything, only happy when he's with his beloved dog Sandy Koufax. When he receives a letter from Japan asking what he'd like to do with his mother's property, he instantly decides to leave town and fly to Japan. Maybe in Japan, there will be answers about his mother and why she stopped holding on when she was so close to her goal. Maybe her Japanese doctor knows something, like whether or not his mom stopped taking his medication. He leaves behind a world of broken memories (and reluctantly leaves Sandy Koufax with a friend) and embraces an unknown future. Going to Japan is the best thing Danny can do. He comes to terms with his grief and learns to embrace life again. He befriends Kana, a girl not afraid to dress crazy and stand out. She takes him around Japan and helps him get out of his funk. When Danny's ex-girlfriend Holland reappears, she tears open his healing scabs and digs into his wounds once more. Can they heal together, or will Holland's presence destroy everything Danny's worked so hard to reclaim?
Whitney is superb at delivering beautifully-packaged prose. I quoted several sentences while reading and could have done even more. Her writing style worms its way into a reader's heart and forces him or her to care about the characters and the story. At first, Danny is lost and wandering aimlessly. You don't like everything about him or the decisions he makes. There's a hint of something good, however, and that nugget shines brighter and brighter as you continue reading until you can't help but love Danny and want him to be happy again. Kana was a great friend to Danny. I embraced her zaniness and would love to be friends with her as well. Her English is impressively good for someone who has yet to live abroad and become fully immersed, which bothered me at times, knowing where her English levels should probably be, but most people won't notice or care. It's a nitpicky complaint, and one I have only because I lived in Japan and knew quite a few Japanese who spoke English. At the same time, I lived nowhere near Tokyo, so it could be that Japanese teenagers are more fluent in large tourist cities. I don't know. Either way, I loved Kana and without her great English skills, wouldn't know her as well as I do by the novel's end--and neither would Danny. That would be a tragedy. As for Holland...well. Whitney creates a great character in Holland because she's easy to hate at times, but you also understand where she's coming from and can relate. Romances are complicated, messy things, especially when you're a teenager, and Holland and Danny are no different. Whitney's twists and turns were surprising, but always felt real and never trite.
There are so many nuances to situations in WHEN YOU WERE HERE, and everything ties together in surprising, unpredictable ways. Together, they form a cohesive, wonderful novel. All of these small elements make a whole, and the story would be imperfect without any of them. They come alive when pieced together to fully tell the story of a boy overcoming grief in so many ways and learning how to live again. It's a journey you shouldn't miss out on!
Posted June 20, 2013
Danny has suffered much loss over the years. The only remaining
Danny has suffered much loss over the years. The only remaining member of his family is his dog Sandy Koufax (named after his favorite baseball player... by his mom), and he finds himself itching to leave his home and escape everything. So he escapes to his favorite place--Tokyo, where his mom had hoped to find a cure but instead seems to have made peace with her life and imminent death. There, Danny hopes to find the same peace that his mom did and hopefully find a way to continue living.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Danny is a very real character in his grief. I've never had to go through what he did, and hopefully it'll be a long while before I begin to feel the beginnings of his pain. Sometimes he does stupid things just because he has a "get free card" thanks to his loss, and it's frustrating to see himself wreck himself like that. His journey of healing is slow and very real. It doesn't come as one big revelation at the end like many similar novels do; rather, it comes a little bit at a time, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle coming together. At times, Danny finds out something that throws the greater picture out of whack, but he never gives up hope as he persists in finding out the truth behind his mom's ventures in Japan and, more importantly, more about himself and what he has to live for.
The side characters are somewhat detached from the story. While I know that they're there, and I know what I like and dislike about them, they're never fully present. It's okay because this story focuses on Danny's inner development and his path to finding peace in life and moving on. Kana is the funny, eccentric Asian girl with a sense of humor. I like the friendship that forms between her and Danny. It's something that he needs--a good friend with whom he can really talk without worry. And she's good for him, unlike Holland, the girl who twists his heart and brings him so much grief. Honestly, I can understand why Holland did what she did to him, but I still can't bring myself to quite like her. She hurt him a lot at a time when he really needed her. I don't know why he still loves her. The only bright side to their relationship that I see is how Danny finally comes to terms with his feelings for her, which brings a nice resolution to the novel.
Another thing I really like about this novel is how effortlessly it incorporates a foreign setting into the novel--and better yet, one that has heartfelt meaning to some of the characters. There isn't any great wow moment or anything about going to Japan. No, it's a natural part of the picture, and everything comes in stride. I never felt like an outsider while in Japan with Danny. The story doesn't take time to explain everything to me. Everything flows together, and the context and writing does such a great job of portraying the setting to me that I didn't feel a need to ask for more details. Better yet, Danny and Kana show us the everyday life, not the tourist-y attractions that come immediately to mind when thinking about a foreign country.
When You Were Here is an emotional story about death, life, forgiveness, and making peace. It is about about moving on from the ghosts of the past to live in the present. It is about finding meaning in the every day. I recommend this to those who enjoy a good angsty contemporary read.
Posted June 7, 2013
This Book Will Stick With You This is a book that checks all the
This Book Will Stick With YouWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This is a book that checks all the boxes. It's funny AND heart wrenching. It's familiar AND different. It's smart AND relatable. It's literary AND commercial. Then to top it all off, this novel has voice. It's not just the MC Danny--but all of the characters, they are real, believable, flawed and likable. Additionally, I was mesmerized by the contrasting settings of California and Japan--unique and fascinating. When I closed the cover on WHEN YOU WERE HERE, I felt like I'd really been in the lives of these characters. They will be sticking with me for a long time. My favorite Daisy Whitney book to date.
Posted June 12, 2013
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Posted June 4, 2013
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Posted November 1, 2013
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Posted June 10, 2013
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