Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Title: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publish Date: June 4, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "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.

When 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:

"When 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.  



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