Book Review – You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Posted 07/07/2016 by Cezanne in Book, Review /// 0 Comments ///


Book Review – You Were Here by Cori McCarthy Title: You Were Here
Author: Cori McCarthy
Published on: March 1, 2016
Genres: Mature YA
Page Count: 400
Format: eBook
Book Rating:

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Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations.

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, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. 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

“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.

About Cori McCarthy

Cori McCarthy started writing when she was thirteen. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University, focusing in memoir writing and poetry. After graduation she completed UCLA’s Professional Program in Screenwriting and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Appalachian Ohio. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

In geographical history, Cori was born on Guam, grew up in New England and the Midwest, studied abroad in Ireland, and now lives in Michigan. She’s traveled everywhere from Scotland to St. Petersburg, Albania to Montenegro. Like her hero Walt Whitman, her favorite city on the planet is Washington, D.C., and her favorite off-planet city is Entra.

Cori is the author of several YA books. Kirkus called her debut novel, THE COLOR OF RAIN, “[an] elegantly written and emotionally cathartic page-turner.” Her second novel, BREAKING SKY, received starred reviews from School Library Journal and the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books and is currently in development to become a film by Sony Pictures. Kirkus reviewed it as “smart, exciting, confident–and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” Her third book, YOU WERE HERE, is a contemporary mixed media novel that earned a starred review from the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books and was hailed a VOYA Best Book.

WNDB_ButtonCori’s novel in verse, Name Me America, won the Middle Grade category for the 2014 Katherine Paterson Prize. Cori is also the co-founder of Rainbow Boxes, a charitable initiative aiming to bring LGBTQIA fiction to community libraries and GSAs across America. Tweet @RainbowBoxesYA or watch a three minute commercial for the initiative.

Cori is a contributing blogger at Through the Tollbooth and a freelance editor with Yellow Bird Editor.