See What I See

See What I See

4.0 5
by Gloria Whelan

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Kate Tapert sees her life in paintings. She makes sense of the world around her by relating it to what she adores—art. Armed with a suitcase, some canvases, and a scholarship to art school in Detroit, Kate is ready to leave home and fully immerse herself in painting. Sounds like heaven. All Kate needs is a place to stay.

That place is the home of her father


Kate Tapert sees her life in paintings. She makes sense of the world around her by relating it to what she adores—art. Armed with a suitcase, some canvases, and a scholarship to art school in Detroit, Kate is ready to leave home and fully immerse herself in painting. Sounds like heaven. All Kate needs is a place to stay.

That place is the home of her father, famous and reclusive artist Dalton Quinn, a father she hasn't seen or heard from in nearly ten years. When Kate knocks on his door out of the blue, little does she realize what a life-altering move that will turn out to be. But Kate has a dream, and she will work her way into Dalton's life, into his mind, into his heart . . . whether he likes it or not.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a modern drama of new beginnings and sad endings, National Book Award–winner Whelan (Homeless Bird) effectively contrasts the lives of two artists, the accomplished Dalton Quinn, who appears to care more about his work than people, and his less worldly, more compassionate daughter, Kate. Kate has not communicated with her father since he left the family more than a decade ago, but he's the only person she knows in Detroit, where she has won a scholarship to art school. Despite her mother's misgivings, Kate arrives on his doorstep, hoping her father will take her in. It doesn't come as a surprise that he is a reluctant host, but it is a shock for Kate to learn that her father is dying. After giving up her scholarship to take care of him full-time, Kate embarks on a journey to discover the man who abandoned her, while wondering if her painting will ever measure up to his. Beautifully expressing adolescent uncertainties and yearnings, this intimate novel will draw readers who, like Kate, have big hearts and big dreams. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
Joyce Carol Oates
“See What I See is an absolutely riveting and heartrending work of fiction. I read it in a single session—-it contains numerous surprises and doesn’t shrink from the seriousness of its subject and from the wonderful integrity of its young heroine Kate.”
“With clear and elegant prose, Whelan portrays a gradually developing and complex relationship built on guilt, curiosity, love and a passion for art.”
VOYA - Stacey Hayman
Applying to art school in nearby Detroit and earning a scholarship to cover tuition should be the start of Kate Tapert's dream come true, but she knows how hard this will be for her mother. Kate's dad chose the life of an artist over his family twelve years ago, and even after he became the wealthy and famous painter Dalton Quinn, he never looked back. Now Kate's hoping he will at least let her use a room in his house while she goes to school since she cannot afford the dorms. What she finds when Dalton answers his door is more than the angry painter she's seen in paparazzi photos or a stubborn, unrepentant father—Kate finds a person who needs more than she might be able to give. This book is engaging from the first page; the short chapters and wide margins keep the pages flying by. Artistic- and literary-minded girls may particularly appreciate Kate's passion for painting and the struggles she's willing to endure to live a creative life. There are also elements that could make this an interesting choice for a book discussion, thanks to sparse backstory details and almost no explanation for why characters make some of the choices that they do. The open-ended nature of this book might appeal to the imagination of teen readers—and their desire to discuss the who, what, and why of the story—but it is also possible that this lack of information will leave them feeling less than satisfied. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When Kate leaves the natural beauty of Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a scholarship to art school in Detroit, her intentions are twofold. She's set her sights on growing into the artist she's always known she could be, but she's also seeking her long-absent father's approval and affection. The second she'd never admit. In Kate's eyes, showing up on her father's doorstep is simply a means to an end. She has no money for housing and he lives in Detroit. Yet his status as a world-renowned artist-turned-recluse who unapologetically left the family years earlier complicates matters. When Kate arrives, she finds the man aloof and self-centered. She soon discovers that he dying of liver cancer and is racing against the clock to finish his crowning art show, and she has to decide how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to help him. Detroit's air of lost possibilities serves as an apt background for this bittersweet story. Kate's tendency to view life through the lens of famous works of art and her continual references to the natural surroundings of her home help shape her into a unique, living and breathing character. Development of a few secondary characters and plots is not as strong, but the story as it stands is sweet and thoughtful and avoids neatly wrapped edges, as any title that captures the intricacies of family relationships must do.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
Kirkus Reviews

Kate Tapert is caught between two consuming passions: a drive to capture on canvas the austere beauty of her rural Upper Peninsula hometown of Larch, Mich., and a devotion to her mother. In Larch, Kate and her mom eke out a loving if improvident life together in a tiny trailer after being abandoned by Kate's father, celebrated artist Dalton Quinn, years ago. Kate's portfolio and drive have netted her a full-tuition scholarship to art college in Detroit, but housing is not included. Kate resolves to stay with Dalton, even though her letters asking permission to live with him have gone unanswered. The Dalton Kate discovers is near death and desperately trying to complete work for a final retrospective in New York, forcing a choice between following in her father's footsteps—relinquishing family ties for a chance at fame and professional fulfillment—or doing the right thing by caring for and getting to know Dalton at last, on her own terms. Kate's journey from selfishness to selflessness and back to the healthy middle path is quietly touching, if not as powerfully moving as it could be. (Fiction.12 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
HL760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

Joyce Carol Oates
“See What I See is an absolutely riveting and heartrending work of fiction. I read it in a single session—-it contains numerous surprises and doesn’t shrink from the seriousness of its subject and from the wonderful integrity of its young heroine Kate.”

Meet the Author

Gloria Whelan is the bestselling author of many novels for young readers, including Homeless Bird, winner of the National Book Award, The Locked Garden, Parade of Shadows, and Listening for Lions. She lives in Michigan near Lake St. Clair.

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See What I See 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has me hooked, it can get sad, but it is an amazing book worth the money it costs. I recomened it.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
More like 4.5 stars. This sounded good. Liked the descriptions of the setting and especially comparing it to art and when Quinn and her dad painted. Makes me want to give painting a try again. Maybe. I like that there was a hint at a romance and that Kate had her friends old and new. A sad but quick read.
Middlereader More than 1 year ago
Gloria Whelan has reconfirmed herself as one of my favorite authors with her latest book, See What I See. We share a state, and the passion with which she paints northern Michigan's gorgeous scenery reflects my own love of "up north." But it is her mastery of story and language that makes her one of the greats. Kate has grown up without her father. He's been too busy becoming a famous artist to pay her any mind. The only thing she ever received from him was a talent for art. She needs to paint as she needs to breath. So she earns a scholarship to an art school in Detroit, where her father lives, and shows up on his doorstep. You could say he isn't pleased. "What are you doing here? How did you find me? This is no time for a family reunion. I'm getting ready for a show and I need to be left alone." Yet Kate can see he isn't well, and she digs up some stubbornness of her own. After finding a medical record indicating just how ill he is, Kate challenges him, "If you don't let me stay, I'll tell Mom and the newspapers and your gallery how sick you are. You won't have your show." So Kate stays and adores art school. But her father weakens and grows more irritable. This will be his last show, and he works desperately to redeem his professional reputation. Kate is faced with some hard choices. Quit school and care for a man who never cared for her? One who makes it plain daily that he disdains her? Or pursue her own career and turn her back as he turned his on her so many years ago. Emotional but not sticky-sweet, thoughtful and beautifully-rendered, See What I See is Gloria Whelan at her best. And that, I might add, is phenomenal.
Tawni More than 1 year ago
See What I See is a great story about acceptance and never losing sight of your dreams even if they get put on hold or things get complicated. Kate is an aspiring painter who decides to move in with her estranged father while she attends art school. Kate hasn't seen her father and famous painter, Dalton Quinn, for years after he chooses work over her mother and herself. When Kate shows up at Dalton's home he immediately wants her to leave and hates that she's there. What seems like a terrible and negative relationship slowly turns into acceptance when Kate offers Dalton her long as she keeps her distance. I relate to Kate and her relationship to her father, so the book really caught me. Although my story is not identical to Kate's, I was still able to take in the message of not allowing yourself to waste energy on negative feelings toward another and to accept it. "It is what it is".right? However, even though I connected deeply with the relationships in the book, it left me hanging at the end, which was disappointing! I would have liked to see things get wrapped up, instead I was asking myself the "what ifs" and "what nows". Overall though, I really enjoyed it!
SitHereandRead More than 1 year ago
SEE WHAT I SEE, by Gloria Whelan, is a story about a young artist who will do whatever it takes to achieve her dreams of becoming a famous painter like her father, who she hasn't seen since she was a little girl. Kate is in for more than she expected when she shows up at her father's doorstep in Detroit, to find that her long absent father is dying and has only months to live. I found this novel very uplifting and really made me think about the importance of family. Kate has had nothing to do with her father since her took off so he could paint and be famous, and makes lots of money. He was never there for her or her mother, never called, never did anything to involve himself with his daughter and then she shows up and expects maybe he'll be nice about her staying with him because she is older and she can help around the house. He almost didn't let her stay and I wanted to yell at him to get over himself! She learns he is dying, and multiple people tell her that she is going to have to take care of him and even though he has never been there for her, she is willing to help him out if it means that she can't go to art school in Detroit. Kate has such a distinct voice, she loves her father, and aspires to be just like him, but she also can't stand him and she wants to hate him for never being there for her growing up. She quickly finds out that her father is deteriorating fast and he needs her attention 24/7. I found myself getting upset with the book because I wanted her so badly to achieve her dreams that she so desperately wanted but her father kept bogging her down further and further. When I finished the book I had to take a deep breath and think about how much family really means. I was surprised that this book enlightened me on the importance of family in a girls life. This is feel good, feel angry, feel sad book. I could've cried, laughed and yelled all at the same time. Kate has her own voice and this story felt like a true one, I was sucked in immediately and I couldn't stop.