Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennifer Niven, and Jandy Nelson.
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 the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.
Cori McCarthy's gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels 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.
"You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together."Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry's and Read Between the Lines
"The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them-and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters' stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!"Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.50(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
CORI MCCARTHY studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cori is an Irish-Lebanese American and, like many of their characters, a member of the LGBTQ+ community. They live in New England with their partner, YA author Amy Rose Capetta. Learn more at CoriMcCarthy.com
Read an Excerpt
I had been driving all afternoon, trying to get lost.
The road blurred. My foot was a stone on the gas pedal, and I took the turn too fast. Tires growled and spit gravel, almost sending my car sideways through the Saturday evening traffic.
I came to a slamming stop in the playground parking lot and pressed my head to the steering wheel, cursing. The pause was short-lived. I tightened my ponytail and got out.
Trudging toward the swing set, my face burned and my breath stung in my chest. That's what regret does well and grief does better: rips out your energy and leaves you feeling each and every heartbeat. Plus, well, I'd failed once again. Getting lost in my hometown was turning out to be as easy as disapparating-something I'd once wasted an entire lightning boltforeheaded summer attempting.
I sat hard on the swing. My endeavors to get lost were getting extreme. Just last week, I'd night-trekked into the woods where the cross-country team practices and chugged three inches of rum. I'd left the path behind, only to run into my equidrunk classmates, taking their idiotic dares to make out with a tree and underwear-roll through a patch of poison ivy. I emerged hours later on the road behind the middle school, the same spot where years earlier I used to pump my bike into dirt-sneezing speed, trying to spin out. In short, my earliest attempts at getting lost.
I itched the length of my arm. The poison ivy welts were starting to fade, even though a few hours earlier, my mom complained about how blotchy I would look in all my graduation pictures. "Photoshop," I had assured her following the ceremony. "I promise you won't have to remember me as rashy every time you marvel at my monumentous achievement in surviving standard education."
Surviving was the wrong word. My mom started to weep, and I ended up taking a three-hour drive on Easy Death Road. Which is exit 13 off Guilt Highway if you're curious. And then after all that, I surrendered to a seizure of loneliness and came here to the oddly placed Richland Avenue Park.
I scuffed my Chucks on the stubbly turf, drawn to the spot beneath the swing set where Jake died. Of course, it wasn't rubber back then. It had been good, old-fashioned, unforgiving blacktop. My mind hummed, and something inside me screamed Run! as if my worst memories were zombies, and if I were quick enough, I could outstrip them. But I stayed where I was, kicking into gear on the swing instead.
The sunset was taking forever to get over itself, and I pumped my legs like a ten-year-old. I could have been at any number of graduation parties, sneaking beer into Sprite cans and cheersing the end of high school. But no, I was here. Killing time. Waiting for dark, when I'd break into The Ridges and meet up with Mikivikious for our bizarro anniversary. It had been five years. That's something special, right? What's the traditional present for five years? Silverware? A couch? Flat screen?
The sun's blaring rays made me squeeze my eyes until the whole universe went orange-red. Killing time. What an expression. How does one kill time? Anesthesia? Time travel? Lobotomy?
The last one made me snicker as I stared up at The Ridges, the decrepit Victorian mansion on top of the hill. Until recently, it had been known as the Athens Insane Asylum, but the state had demanded a rebrand when they shut it down, as if a new name could erase a hundred years of inhumane abuse, death, and yes, copious amounts of lobotomies. I should know; I'd tried it once or twice. Not a lobotomy-changing my own name. Anything to escape being the infamous girl who'd had a front-row seat in watching her big brother snap his neck.
I would rather be known for frenching a tree.
My feelings flared as I imagined my mom on her way back to her own asylum, Stanwood Behavioral Hospital. She was most likely weeping for Xanax, a wreck because I wrecked her with my sarcasm. And my father was probably holding her hand and saying nice things, because that's how he dealt with Jake. My dad was a grade A deflector. Everything he said was ripe with the exact same sentiment: So we don't have a son anymore, but hey, look at our daughter! To be honest, I preferred my mother's tears.
I turned to the half-shadowed redbrick towers of The Ridges peeking over the tree line and wondered where I'd left off on my easier thoughts. Oh yeah: lobotomies. The guy who performed them, nicknamed Dr. Lobotomy, traveled from asylum to asylum in the sixties, living out of his lobotomobile-he seriously called it that-while banging out twenty procedures a day. Apparently it only takes a few minutes to destroy someone's frontal lobe. True story. Google it.
I kicked harder, faster, higher on the swing, and then turned into a board, locking my elbows and knees. I tracked the blue sky with each swinging pass, waiting for gravity to get predictable. To bring me back to earth.
When it finally did, I was no longer alone. A kid glared from a few feet away with that dog snarl only middle schoolers possess. Behind him, his buddies hung from the monkey bars, faux whispering. Clearly he'd been sent over. Chosen to poke fun at Jaycee Strangelove.
Yes, that's my name. No, you may not make fun of it.
I stared him down. "You're too old to be on the playground. Take off before you freak out the little kids," I said even though I was the only other person there.
The boy's hair was unevenly shaved on the sides, and he'd Sharpied rap lyrics up his ropey arms. "I dare you."
I exhaled for roughly ten years. "Dare me to do what, Eminem?"
He pointed to the top of the swing set, smirking.
"I can do the backflip," he bragged. "So can two of my friends."
I took the bait even though I knew better than to talk about the accident. "Jake could do it too, you snotwad. The flip that killed him was probably his thirtieth."
My thoughts went graphic. I couldn't stop imagining my big brother standing atop the swing set. He wore his cap and gown from graduation and was also half-drunk-a detail the coroner threw in later. Jake's classmates were cheering him on in a way that made me think he was the coolest human on the planet. I mean, I had only finished seventh grade, so that seemed entirely possible.
I remembered in slo-mo how he crouched and sprang backward. The flip was so fast that it had turned into one and a half flips, and then...
"Is it true that his head snapped off?" the Sharpie kid asked.
"Well? Do the backflip," he said. "I dare you."
I got up and walked away.
"But you're supposed to do any dare," he yelled. "That's what everyone says."
"You've got the wrong Strangelove," I called back. "Jake was the one who did every dare." I only do the ones that aren't suicidal, I added in my thoughts. Mostly. I turned to walk backward and spoke my next words loud enough for him and his little thug friends. "Jake's head didn't snap off. His neck bent ninety degrees." I held my arm up, crooked. "Like an elbow."
Maybe that would keep them from mimicking the flip that broke Jake. But probably not. More likely, it'd make them even more interested. Middle schoolers make no freakin' sense.
I pretended like I was leaving, but I didn't go anywhere. Instead, I hooked around the small wooded area and back to the playground. To the swing set. Lil Eminem and his posse had bugged off, and I felt myself edging too close to the supermassive black hole inside that Jake had left behind.
Five years ago. Five. Five.
I eyed the playground like I might catch a glimpse of his ghost. He would probably be pissed to know that I imagined his spirit in that ridiculous cap and gown. Also barefoot, but then again, he never wore shoes.
I flipped off my bashed-up Converses and climbed the support beam of the swing set without another thought. The cool metal gripped my palms, and I looped my legs around the top bar and hauled myself into a sitting position. Easier than it looks. I wriggled my butt down the pole.
The sunset was lapsing into a cherry-stained twilight. A breeze came in from somewhere and set itself against my radical heartbeat. A few dozen people had watched Jake flip; none of them had tried to stop him, least of all me. And now I was alone. No one was going to stop me either. I'm lost without you, Jake, I thought, followed by, What sentimental crap.
"I'm always right here," I muttered. "How lost is that?"
Crazy and cursing, I stood up.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of the best books I have ever read!!!!
4.5 Stars! “That’s what regret does well and grief does better: rips out your energy and leaves you feeling each and every heartbeat.” You Were Here is a fantastic coming of age YA novel. This book was everything that I love about YA. The angst, emotions, humor, love, loss, were all mixed in with relatable and likable characters. The writing was fluid, strong, and filled with tangible emotions. I loved the complexity of each of the characters. From the beginning to end the I devoured each piece of this novel. Grief or the aftermath of grief is such a powerful thing. It basically destroys you, reshapes your life, and you’re forever changed by it. Jacyee Stronglove knows grief well. Five years ago she lost her older brother, Jake, in a freak accident. Jaycee was there the moment that Jake died and since then she hasn’t really been the same. She’s always been this bold and honest force but Jake’s death made her even more brazen and brutally honest. From wearing Jake’s clothing to trying out each of his stunts, Jaycee is obsessed in keeping his memory alive. She keeps her distance from friends and family. No one seems to be able to get through to her. Jaycee doesn’t talk about her future at all. Her only plan is to do the one thing Jake didn’t do….live past graduation. The story starts off on the evening of her graduation. The way Jaycee decides to cope with Jake’s death was to recreate all of Jake’s old dares and stunts. A sequence of events brings a unique group of people back into her life. You get to meet her former best friend Natalie, Natalie’s boyfriend Zach, his best friend Bishop, and my personal favorite Mikivikious aka Mik, who was Jake’s best friend. What was supposed to be a solo adventure suddenly becomes this group effort. I loved these characters. Ms. McCarthy wrote this book in such a way that I felt that I truly got to know them. Each character was unique and diverse. This story wasn’t just about Jaycee’s grief though. We get to see each character’s personal pain. Each of their stories only seemed to add the many layers of this book. The storytelling in this novel was so vivid and rich. I enjoyed watching this story unfold. I wanted to see characters grow and come into their own. I was fascinated about each place they visited throughout Jaycee’s journey. Honestly, there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this novel. I loved it all really. I will definitely be checking out more of Ms. McCarthy’s works.
4 Platypires for You Were Here by Cori McCarthy This was really good. I feel fans of John Green will like the novel. The book is really well written with developed characters. I liked how as the story evolved the characters kept having more depth and layers. The dialogue and character reactions were realistic and fun. The different POVs was a welcomed bonus and my favorite being from Mik. His POV was told through comic art which was a delight. "You Were Here" is a coming of age story that I feel would work for movie screen. The story has the angst, the drama, and the inner turmoil among lost friendships. Overall, this was a good book and I would recommend to fans of YA fiction. I received a free digital copy from NetGalley for an honest review.
*I was sent this by the publisher for review, but that in no way affects my opinion on the book.* 4.5 Stars When Netgalley sent me an email promoting this book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. They described it as a book for Lauren Oliver fans—aka me. And after reading it, that description is pretty dead-on. But You Were Here by Cori McCarthy is also very much it’s own unique thing. And it was a really cool reading experience for me. This book is about grief. That basically covers the major themes and plot. Jake died in a terrible accident…and he left his friends and family in his wake, not sure how to handle his loss. And this book explores five of those people—Jaycee, Mik, Zach, Natalie, and Bishop. Jaycee’s probably the “main” protagonist as Jake’s sister, but the others are suffering just as much, even five years after his death. But this book was beautiful. I thought the writing was superb, and each character was so intricate and unique. The chapters switch off between them, and it was so interesting to see how they think and interact and deal with the tough stuff that life hands to them. They were all unique and they all had flaws and they all were so real that I just wanted to be their friend and give them a hug. Even though I don’t really relate to any of them personally. And I think to master that is a true feat. To honestly represent grief in five so very different characters is beautiful and wonderfully done in this book. And each chapter and perspective was very distinct. Bishop, for instance, was an artist, so each of his “chapters” was simply one of his pieces that he works on throughout the story. He kind of leaves his mark everywhere he goes, so his parts of the book show those. And the different formats that are throughout, the distinct voices, really help us get to know the characters even better. And I super loved that. I think my favorite part might have been the Mik chapters. After Jake’s death, Mik goes selectively mute…which would be difficult to represent in a novel. So they changed things up and his chapters were illustrated in a graphic novel-type format. And it was awesome. Truly. What better way to represent how he thinks and feels than to do it visually? Man, I loved them. Notable Quotes "That’s what regret does well and grief does better: rips out your energy and leaves you feeling each and every heartbeat." "'Do you guys know what a Gordion knot is?' Bishop asked. 'Some people think that it represnts time. A tangle of sorts, but basically, it implies that anything that happened is still happening. That the past is never gone. The future already exists. Spirals upon spirals.' He cleared his throat. 'So really, everyone who was ever here is still here. In a sense.'" So, for me, it was the characters that made me love this story. Each and every one was so utterly real and believable. Each was so unique. Each was flawed, but relatable. And each was dealing with a grief that’s common to many around the world every day. This is a story of family and friendship, growing and loving, learning to deal with life’s hardships and move forward to a better day. This was a beautiful story, and I completely recommend it to you.
3.5 stars! Jaycee is struggling with the loss of her brother, who died while doing a dangerous stunk as part of a dare. She wants answers, and she won’t settle without them. With the help of a fun group of friends, she sets out to get those answers she so desperately needs. At first I was really loving this story quite a bit, but as it progressed I honestly found myself drifting a bit. I felt like the story sagged a bit around the middle. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what made me feel this way, but it lost the lackluster about a while. I would still definitely recommend this book, as I feel like a lot of people will REALLY enjoy it. I think this was more of a “it’s not you, it’s me” type of issue. A story about loss, forgiveness, and making decisions, both good and bad, that will forever change your life. An emotional story that will surely pull at those heartstrings. Side note: I really enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book as well, where she discussed different places and aspects of the story. A definite must-read once you finish this book. (Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the review copy!)
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an ARC for an honest review. “Killing time. What an expression. How does one kill time? Anaesthesia? Time travel? Lobotomy?” –Cori McCarthy This coming of age novel was completely original, told from five different viewpoints: three of them in the standard form, (Jaycee, Natalie, and Zach), one in the form of a graphic novel (Mik), and one in the form of visual art and graffiti (Bishop). When I first read the synopsis on NetGalley I was reminded a tiny bit of The Breakfast Club: “…the uptight, ex-best friend; the heartbroken poet; the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome; and…Mik. He doesn’t talk…” The way the characters were described reminded me of the ending of The Breakfast Club when the kids serving detention describe who they are. I was initially drawn in because of this connection. I mean come on, who doesn’t love The Breakfast Club? Jaycee, the main character of the story, has just graduated high school, along with three of the other narrators. All of them are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Natalie, “the uptight, ex-best friend”, is moving away from the small town they live in to Cornell University in New York. Bishop, “the heartbroken poet”, is also leaving to attend college in Michigan. Zach, “the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome”, is staying in their small town to attend the local university. Jaycee has no clue what she wants to do with her life and has elected to put off college for the time being. The fifth character, Mik, is attending college and is majoring in premed. He is a few years older than the rest of the characters. Jaycee is a troubled girl. She watched her brother, Jake, kill himself after trying to complete a dare five years prior to her high school graduation. She now uses the “dead brother card” in everyway she possible can. Every year on the anniversary of Jake’s death, Jaycee and her brother’s best friend, Mik, visits the local abandoned asylum where her brother used to explore. This year is different, however. Natalie, Zach, and Bishop decided to tag along. After spending the night exploring, Natalie decides that it is time to make up with Jaycee before she leaves for Cornell. Natalie’s pushiness leads to Jaycee finding her brother’s journal of all the places that he explored. This discovery leads our characters on an epic journey over the course of the summer to explore all the places listed in Jake’s journal and, as a result, discover themselves. I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters. Each character had something unique going on in their lives. Even though this novel is told in five different view points, it was very easy to follow. Jaycee’s character was excellently written. I loved that Cori McCarthy wrote her to be so brutally honest. She tells the truth no matter what you actually want to here. I also really enjoyed Mik’s character. I haven’t seen another character like him before. His selective muteness intrigued me. I appreciated that McCarthy explained what it was and why it happens. I loved the originality of his character. I encourage everyone to check out this novel when it is released in March 2016.
It’s the five-year anniversary of Jake’s death, and his 18-year-old sister Jaycee is still grieving. In order to feel closer to him, she wears his clothes and recreates the daredevil stunts he performed while exploring abandoned sites and buildings. A group of friends decide to tag along with her: Nathalie, her bossy, cautious ex-best friend, Zach, an inveterate gamer, Bishop, a broken-hearted young man, and Mik, Jake’s mysterious friend. Will Jaycee be able to put the past behind her and look to the future? You Were Here is a young adult fiction that will also appeal to adult readers. The story is told from 5 different points of view: Jaycee’s is written in the first person, while the other characters’ are in the 3rd person. The book is a mixed media novel that alternates between prose (Jaycee, Nathalie and Zach), graphic novel (Mik) and word art poetry (Bishop). The artwork is beautiful, and it allows the story to be more energetic and powerful. You Were Here deals with two important themes: mourning and depression, but it does so without weighing down the story. In addition, I especially enjoyed the fact that the group of friends went urban exploring. It reminded me of my childhood when I lived close to an airport where a lot of buildings were abandoned. Like Jaycee’s group of friends, I was curious about what these sites were hiding. However, I must say though that I was sometimes impatient with Jaycee, with the way she reacted. On the whole though, this novel was original and entertaining, and I highly recommend it. You Were Here was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.
[NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.] An OK read, but one that ultimately didn’t leave much of an impression on me. It seemd interesting at first—although, as usual in such cases, I don’t really see the point of having a first person narrative for one character, and a third person one for the others. Including comics pages for one of the characters was a nice idea, as it enhanced how the guy very seldom talks, and the “silence” of the panels, combined with the black and white pictures, felt appropriate enough. I was less convinced by Bishop’s chapters: I liked seeing him through his art only… but it was way too centered on his ex-girlfriend, and since I didn’t care much about her, it didn’t do much for me. Unfortunately, while the premise is what drove me to request this book, I soon came to realise that didn’t care a lot about any of the characters. Jayce was grieving in an intense way, keeping people at a distance by hiding behind “truth”. Natalie was bit of a pushover, with a controlling family that made her trying to control everything in turn, and secretly wanting to be someone else, to the point of “running away” by going to college—and failing to change because she planned her new life up to the clothes she’d wear, and on which days she’d wear them. Mik: OK at first, however once his selective muteness was explained, it felt that he got over it too easily. Zach: got better towards the end (his circumstances are actually rather sad), but very annoying in a “silly jock with a bottle problem” in the beginning. Bishop: too much moping about Marrakesh. And I guess that’s what didn’t work in my opinion: too much drama and angst, too much of an emo streak, at the expense of real character development. Also, I guess I was hoping for more urban exploring, more strange places where Jaycee would’ve been trying to feel the fading presence of her brother (the asylum was definitely creepy, for starters). It wasn’t totally bad… It just didn’t strike me in any way, except for a few moments when a character or other finally developed somewhat, and some more eye-rolling when it became too drama-laden.
"By far, one of my favorite 2016 reads. Here we'll be following Jaycee, who was still dealing with the death of his big brother many years ago. On each anniversary, she breaks into abandoned asylums, which was one of her brother's favourite places to do dangerous stunts. Later on, she'll be accompanied by his old friends, Mik, Natalie, Tyler & Bishop who also have their own issues. This book focuses on grief and how differently each characters cope up with it which I can say made the book totally relatable. As you go along with them on this journey, you can't help but wish that sooner or later they find the answers that they were looking for and eventually move forward with life. However, later on they would eventually realize that the reason why they were brought together by a mutual person's death doesn’t stop there but also for them to find something that is missing on By far, one of my favorite 2016 reads. Here we'll be following Jaycee, who was still dealing with the death of his big brother many years ago. On each anniversary, she breaks into abandoned asylums, which was one of her brother's favourite places to do dangerous stunts. Later on, she'll be accompanied by his old friends, Mik, Natalie, Tyler & Bishop who also have their own issues. This book focuses on grief and how differently each characters cope up with it which I can say made the book totally relatable. As you go along with them on this journey, you can't help but wish that sooner or later they find the answers that they were looking for and eventually move forward with life. However, later on they would eventually realize that the reason why they were brought together by a mutual person's death doesn’t stop there but also for them to find something that is missing on themselves. This is a fantastic coming of age story wherein young adults would totally laud. Each of these characters shares their own touching stories and overall this book has humor and romance combined in a very satisfying dynamic. Characters are very well written who expresses themselves in various chapters with not only words but art, like literally. One chapter would consist entirely of graffiti, others would be in a form of graphic novels and the typical narrative and let me tell you that this factors just brought this book to whole new level. This is a fantastic coming of age story wherein young adults would totally laud. Each of these characters shares their own touching stories and overall this book has humor and romance combined in a very satisfying dynamic. Characters are very well written who expresses themselves in various chapters with not only words but art, like literally. One chapter would consist entirely of graffiti, others would be in a form of graphic novels and the typical narrative and let me tell you that this factors just brought this book to whole new level.
On the night of her high school graduation, Jaycee Stranglove reminisces about the death of her daredevil older brother Jake five years earlier. When she finds his diary and a map of the urban ruins he explored, she decides to follow in his footsteps. She is accompanied by Natalie, who is trying to rekindle their friendship; Natalie's loser boyfriend, Zach; the heart-broken artist, Bishop; and Jake's best friend Mik, a selective mute. We follow their adventures exploring The Ridges, an abandoned insane asylum on the edge of town; Moonville Tunnel, an ancient railway tunnel; The Gates of Hell, a disused open drainage pipe; Randall Park Mall, an abandoned shopping center; and Geauga Lake, a derelict amusement park. All Jaycee wants to do is feel connected to her dead brother. But when will she relinquish the past and start living? "You Were Here" explores what happens in the two months a group of disparate friends have left before they leave for college. Relationships are made and destroyed, realities are confronted, and we are given a front-row view of the pain of growing up. The novel is told in alternating chapters by five characters who have five distinct voices: Jaycee's sardonic prose perfectly captures her teenage angst; Natalie portrays the high-achieving daughter always striving for perfection; Zach is the quintessential party-boy who's not ready to grow up; Bishop's contributions are in the form of drawings, graffiti, and street art; while Mik tells his story in graphic novel format. The wonderful illustrations by Sonia Liao add a whole new dimension to the story. I really wanted to love this book. I was disappointed when I didn't feel much of an emotional connection to any of the characters at the beginning. However, as I got to know them, they became more and more real. And by the end ... yes, you guessed it ... I loved this book. Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, alcohol abuse. I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. Full blog post: https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2016/03/you-were-here-by-cori-mccarthy.html
Brilliantly told, this story is beautiful and authentic, surprising and totally enjoyable. You Were Here is told in alternating chapters from each of the five main character. Jaycee's chapters are told in first person, while Zach and Natalie's are in third. Bishop's chapters are gorgeous word art poems, while Mik's are graphic novel panels. The result is five clear and differentiated voices and a book that is an exciting mix of novel, graphic novel and poem. Jaycee's brother died five years ago when he snapped his neck doing a backflip off the top of a playground swing in front of Jaycee and a dozen other kids. Jaycee's life changed that day and five years hasn't lessened the Jake-sized hole she has in her life. Every year, on the anniversary of Jake's death, Jaycee breaks into the Ridges, the ruins of a insane asylum, and meets up with Mik, Jake's friend. But this year, Jaycee is joined (rather reluctantly) by her ex-best friend Natalie, Natalie's boyfriend Zach, and their friend Bishop. What starts as one night soon becomes a whole series of adventures when Jaycee finds Jake's map of old buildings and hidden dares. You Were Here felt kind of like a Scooby-Doo adventure, with haunted buildings and maps and dares (but without Scooby, obviously). In some ways it was childlike in the way jumping out at your friends in a dark room is childlike, and yet the story is about so many serious and mature themes of grief and death, family breakdown, the end of school, hurt, lies and pain. It's the perfect, potent mix. There is a beauty and authenticity to this story, which hurts and yet makes you smile. I loved the pacing of this book. It is fairly long, but there is so much going on. It never felt slow, and I loved that each character, each voice was so unique that there was never any trouble separating them or identifying who was the voice of each chapter. There really is a lot going on in this story, which loops back and together, and it's brilliantly executed. The story progresses over a number of weeks and yet at times it feels like it could be happening all in one night. But the time is needed as these are serious issues each of the characters are dealing with, and I love that they were neither brushed over or given a quick fix. The awful tragedy of Jake's death ripped a hole in Jaycee, but she wasn't the only one affected. All five characters' lives were changed that day, whether they were present or not. This adventure is about finally exposing the lies and the truth about what happened the day Jake fell and dealing with the fallout of the following five years. Jaycee puts the brutal in brutally honest. When Jake died, her whole life changed. She clings to the memory of Jake, pushing everyone else away. She is acerbic, but can't help but resent that her best friend walked away when Jaycee most needed her. As her chapters are written in first person, Jaycee feels like the protagonist of this story and readers perhaps get the greatest insight into her character. She is a fun narrator and key to pulling the group together, even as she desperately pushes them all away.
I just loved this. I found it to be real, compelling, and a good story revolving around a tragedy. When I started it, I was very skeptical but it grabbed my attention and interest very quickly. I even liked how the story switched between the group of five - Jaycee, Natalie, Zach, Bishop, and Mik. Normally I despise multiple POV’s but the author did it in a unique and different way. I loved how with Bishop’s chapters it showed his artwork and with Mik’s in was in the form of a graphic novel. So cool. I almost wish all books would do this now! I did like the characters even though at times I wanted to throttle them at one point. Haha. They were so different but yet worked together beautifully. I loved their adventures in these abandoned places that Jaycee’s brother loved to go to. I love in the end how they made discoveries about themselves, of friendships, and relationships. Wonderful book. *I received this through NetGalley
This book completely took me by surprise and it is one that I cannot recommend enough! From the flawed characters, to a shipworthy romance, and unexpected formatting that knocked my socks off, I was hooked from the beginning. I did not expect multiple POVs, but I have to say it really worked. I liked getting to know all of the characters and the way McCarthy handled two character's POVs in particular, was pretty genius. As I said, the characters are flawed. They are all dealing with their own issues, which I really liked because it was so realistic at their age. Some issues are heavier than others, but they ultimately all find themselves banding together to follow Jaycee's daredevil dead brother's footprints across the state. I'll start with Jaycee. I wasn't sure if I was going to like her initially because she's so abrasive and isn't afraid to speak her mind, even at the risk of hurting others. However, my heart absolutely ached for her. It has been five years since her brother's death and she isn't living. I feel like she's stuck in time and to see her still so shattered and broken really hurt. She doesn't realize that her pain is actually affecting those around her. There is this huge chasm between her and her best friend, Natalie, and she makes her brother's childhood best friend feel invisible because she doesn't really see HIM for who he is. Her self destructive nature really hurts them and she is in so deep that she can't see beyond her grief. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a sibling, and everyone has their own way of coping, but Jaycee isn't. She wears her brother's clothes. She lives in his room. She is even starting to act like him. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Her relationship with Mik was complicated too. She has always had a crush on him, but after Jake died, she just couldn't seem to look beyond the boy from the past. She doesn't see the guy he is now and that hurts him because he has strong feelings for her. She pushes him away when he gets too close, because she doesn't know how to deal with her feelings for him. They have been recently connected by her brother's death, so it's pretty awkward for her to try and see him in a new light. I shipped these two so hard, even as frustrated as I could be with Jaycee for how she could be with him. Natalie's character was probably my least favorite. She was hard to warm up to because of her superior attitude. She is ready to leave her current life behind and start new. She acts much older than she is and is pretty condescending. I hated how she treated her boyfriend Zach and she really doesn't deserve him, especially after something she did. Jake's death has affected her more than we know and because of that she has pushed Jaycee away, which felt like the ultimate betrayal to Jaycee. These two are constantly at odds during the book, but their screwed up friendship kind of works. Zach is too dependent on Natalie and he just lets her belittle him and make him feel like crap. He doesn't stand up to her because he doesn't want to be alone. He clings to the scraps Natalie throws at him, because there are those times when things are great and they actually get one another. Those moments are few and far between though. Natalie isn't Zach's only issue. Zach's family is pretty messed up and once Natalie and Bishop go off to school, he really won't have anyone left. I hate that he felt left behind but his reasons for staying are so noble that it made me choke up a bit.
Jake was a daredevil, he lived life on the edge, taking dares, doing insane stunts and walking away each time, until his graduation from high school when his wild ways finally caught up with him and he lost both his edge and his life. Five years later and his younger sister, Jaycee cannot let go of his memory or of the Jake she had built up in her mind. Her family has shattered, going from the extremes of taking blame and having a breakdown or pretending Jake didn’t’ exist. Angered, confused and alone, with no one to reach out to for stability, Jaycee seeks to cloak herself in all things Jake, from his clothes to the stunts he pulled, always feeling she was following in his footsteps. But what happens when she has experienced one more day on earth than Jake? What path will she follow? Is it time to make her own way and remember that she will have firsts that Jake never will? Is her obsession with him going to be her downfall, too? How do you honor your personal legend without losing yourself? Follow this heart-wrenching tale of loss and coming of age, of learning to live for oneself and of trusting in others as Cori McCarthy scrapes your nerves raw with You Were There, the torturous tale of letting go for a group of teens on the brink of adulthood as they reach for hope for the future and remember the past by freeing their own inner demons . Dark, bold and at times, so filled with gritty emotion there is no way not to become involved in every word, to live out every scene and to feel what each character feels. Some may see this as a search for personal truths, others will see familiar faces in these troubled teens, but no one will walk away unscathed. Powerful, dark and memorable. I received an ARC edition from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for my honest review.
I pursued answers. I had found a story that had its merits but I felt that the story was dragging itself out and just didn’t work for me. The story centered on a few major issues and I just needed them answered to clear my head. Solving these issues would solidify the type of characters others perceived these individuals to be. I didn’t feel any connection to any of the characters so I was up for anything when they finally started to solve their issues. It was a different type of read for me as I felt a lot of dark emotions as I read this one. Some of the characters tried to shine through with their sunny outlook but the dark clouds quickly dampen the light. Normally this disposition does not bother me but I think it was how the book was stretching itself out and how the story didn’t come together for me that made it seem so dramatic. I really wanted to like this novel, perhaps fewer words and more direction would have helped it. It began five years ago, on graduation night, when Jaycee’s brother took his life doing a flip off the playground equipment at the park. Yes, he was drunk and yes, this was typical behavior for Jake. There were a host of people who witnessed it that night including Jaycee and Mik, his best friend. Mik and Jaycee have come to the playground every year to acknowledge his death. Jaycee and her family have never fully recovered and Jaycee herself has become a new person. She is now indestructible, sarcastic and the males around her fear her. Natalie misses her best friend and would like her back. On this anniversary, Natalie and her friends see Jaycee in the park and are alarmed by what they see. Stopping to help, Natalie is finally able to talk to her about her feelings. Jaycee tells them about a map that she has found of Jake’s and it was decided that they would use this map to see if Jaycee is right. Jaycee believes that the map holds the whereabouts where Jake was and where he left a part of himself. Jaycee desperately needs Jake, so using the map; the group begins a series of trips to Jake’s previous destinations. Using some graphic illustrations inside the novel, I loved this combination and visual. The illustrations were very detailed and I really enjoyed them. I loved how this novel sounds, how this story could have turned out but it just didn’t materialize into a great novel for me. There were sections that were great and I enjoyed the story but the whole thing just didn’t work for me. Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review.
When I first started reading this, I thought definitely a YA book due to the amount of teenage angst. However, the farther I got along, I realized that it would also appeal to adults as as the angst became less and the matters started dealing more with the topic of death. I found this book to be a very emotional one, definitely filled with sadness and with teenagers trying to grow up and move on. There were several twists in the book that really took a toll on the friends and I liked the adult way they finally began to handle it. Like I said, while a very sad and emotional book, I did enjoy reading and seeing these kids learn something about themselves instead of plunging off the deep end. Huge thanks to Sourcebooks for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. A little morbid, yes, but one I do recommend especially for teenagers who are always accepting dares or doing dangerous stuff while drinking.
The writing was really good, in my opinion. The author gave different and unique voices to each of the five main characters. I loved the sarcastic voice of Jaycee the most. This book also had illustrations. Mik is a character who is mute, so for his POV chapters there were comic-esque illustrations. The illustrations added an unexpected, yet appreciated visual aspect to the story. I enjoyed them more than I expected to. This was the first book I’ve read that had this and I would like to see more of it. The characters were dynamic and so well written. The themes in the book are emotionally heavy and each character is dealing with their own ghosts. I think the progression of each character was simply perfection. The rapport between the characters, and also how those progressed, really made it seem like it were happening in real life. She captured those moments and feelings perfectly. That being said, the characters acted too dramatic and whiny at times and that took away from my enjoyment. I mean, I realize they’re teenagers, but it was just a little too over the edge for me. The story is complex and heartfelt. It’s emotional at times, so do make sure to have the tissues close. The story dragged for me in a few places, but only a few, for the most part I did enjoy this read. The dramatic, whiny characters and the little bit of drag brought it down for me. The end was superb – Everything lined up, character arcs were complete and incredible, and I felt satisfied with this book and the journey it took to get there.