Thursday, March 24, 2016

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

The Basics:
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Sourcebooks Fire
Contemporary YA
Published March 1, 2016
Source: Received Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:
I was completely hooked by the blurb.

Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother's death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake's favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn't bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

My Thoughts:
You Were Here is the kind of YA that sucker punches you in the gut. Contemporary, and told from five different (and diverse) perspectives, You Were Here explores grief, friendship, love, family, memory and self-expression. 

Each perspective belongs to a different teenager in a group of students who have just graduated from high school and are embarking on their last summer before going their separate ways. They're brought together on the anniversary of Jaycee's older brother's death, and all carry their own secrets. The story is as much about each of them working through this strange twilight period of teenage-hood--negotiating a path through the secrets they hold now, the hopes they have for their own futures, and those tricky moments of self-discovery, when a more mature self has to confront childish beliefs. I really, really loved this book.

Two of the perspectives are included in the form of art - one is comic strips, the other images of pieces of art created by the character through the course of the story. Two perspectives belong to former best friends Jaycee and Natalie, and the last is Natalie's boyfriend, Zach. I loved the layers in this story. There's a lot happening on the surface, but the book also peels things back and lets us see the guts of these characters, so we can really understand what motivates them. None of these characters are really easy, but instead I found myself embracing their flaws, and rooting for each one to find their way to a happier, healthier place. 

I loved the urbex - urban exploration - component of the story. Urban ruins are fascinating, and each location was described so vividly, and felt so familiar even though I've never explored an urban ruin before... It was very easy to visualize the story, and I would happily watch a movie version of this one.

You Were Here was very emotional. I don't normally love crying when I'm reading; I'm really about the entertainment factor, but some books make it worth it. Absolutely, this is one of them.

Bottom line:

You Were Here is one of my favourite reads of 2016 so far. It was emotional and really resonated with me. Even if the experiences of the characters were more extreme than anything I went through in my teenage years, I could still really relate with them. McCarthy captures that incredibly challenging maturing process alongside so many other developments. I was fully invested in these characters, and would love to read what happens to this group as they get older.  I absolutely recommend this one for fans of YA!

5 stars
For fans of YA, contemporary, emotional stories, serious character development

But don't just take my word for it! Visit the blogs below for other reviews of You Were Here:


Sleeps on Tables

Wilde on my Side

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