Addresses Issues/Diverse · YA

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

WhenFilled 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.

Source:  egalley via Little, Brown/Netgalley

Bonus: 2013 YA Contemporary Challenge

Character Highlights:

Danny –  Oh Danny.  This poor boy has been through so much loss that if I were in his shoes I’m sure I would be pretty angry too.  There were a few things he did that I wasn’t a huge  fan of and I realize that is just his was of reacting to everything and that no one is perfect but I wish he would have been more open to talking to friends and family.  Perhaps even just caring what happens would have been enough.

Holland – We don’t see much of her outside of Danny’s memories since he is alone for most of the book on his journey but I didn’t really warm to her.  Did I hate her?  No.  Did I understand her?  No.  It kills me when people think they are helping others by keeping them in the dark.

Overall Thoughts:  I’m not going to lie to you guys.  After getting about halfway I was debating on
quitting this book because I wasn’t “feeling” it but (and that’s a huge BUT) I pushed a bit more and a whole new book opened up to me.  I cried, A LOT and finally started to connect with the characters and the anger and secrets
they held on to.  Though I will say Danny’s valedictorian speech at the start was a bit cliché IMO. Again, I realize it’s his anger spilling out; in a moment he wanted his mother there and he couldn’t hold back
anymore but I found it a bit much.  I also wished at times there could have been a bit more details when he was in Japan, more for the fact that having never been there I had a harder time picturing
things but I still enjoyed his time there. This is definitely worth the read if you don’t mind tearing up a bit and now that I’ve been introduced to Ms Whitney I will be adding her other books to my TBR pile.


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