Title: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publish Date: June 4, 2013
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Filled with humor, raw
emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When
You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death
and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch
and resonating authenticity.
Danny's mother lost her five-year
battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that
she was hanging on to see.
Now Danny is left alone, with only his
memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He
doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say
for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.
he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she
had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never
knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to
connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months,
which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the
cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an
almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not
have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother
going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died."
My Two Cents:
You Were Here" is the story of Danny, who loses his mother to cancer.
All he has left is his mom's best friend (Kate), her daughter (Holland),
and his dog. He is trying to deal with loss but it feels like the odds
are stacked against him. When he inherits his mom's apartment in Tokyo,
he flees to Japan, a place of happier memories in order to figure out
his mother a little more. He will end up unraveling even more mysteries
than he ever expected.
This was a strong story but there was so
much going on with it. There is Danny trying to figure out what his
mother was going through before her death. There is Danny's relationship
with his adopted sister who originally came from China and in Danny's
view all but abandons the family to find her roots rather than helping
the family first mourn their father and then Danny to mourn their
mother. There is Holland and Danny's relationship, which has a lot of
twists and turns that I won't go too far into in order to save the
surprise for you. All of these stories are great and could have made up a
book themselves so the book sometimes felt rushed as all of the ends
were tied together.
I loved the parts of the book that are set in
Tokyo. Not only do you have an exotic setting with a lot of interesting
characters, Tokyo also represents Danny coming to terms with being on
his own but also that he has a lot of people in his corner if he will
let them in. I really liked the growth that we see in Danny throughout
the book. Overall, I enjoyed this story; I just wish that there would
have been a little more room to stretch out some of the stories.