You Were Here, by Cori McCarthy

You Were Here----Cori McCarthy

I can’t believe Jaycee reenacted the back flip, the one that killed her brother five years ago. Then, her friends had watched it happen, too. For Jaycee, that night broke her heart and separated her from her BFF, but was that forever? Certainly, Jake’s death was and Jaycee wouldn’t let anyone forget.

A niche novel that speaks to anyone who’s ever lost someone they love, this story shines light into the darkness of grief. The protagonist’s strong voice is heard throughout and makes the reader want to call out advice, or warnings and, better yet, questions to Jaycee. She is so strong willed but sometimes wrong.

Okay, so you have a novel about grief. Thing is, this story goes way beyond that pain, or the coming of age of Jaycee five years after her brother’s death. It dives into hearts. Unmistakable bonds that twist and turn as we grow together or apart from our high school friends become so unwound. Will we ever touch again?

If not gritty, this novel is at least course sandy, and if not dark, dim. Enlightenment comes and lifts the ending to a good though not spectacular place. Something inside will make readers fight this book, the feelings of loss we all get to know is painful to relive. Who goes there?  Mik is a strong and silent character for this very reason: hurt runs deep and true.

Any review of this book would be amiss not to mention the stellular use of graphic novel type inserts throughout the read, or the entire section of graffiti pages….how unique for a booking speaking to world-wide conditions, growing up to when our skin feels so tight, to where our minds make no sense but we are comfortable with that, to where passion ends with our finger tips and burns our tongues.

Grammatically, I find the reference of faces blushing, turning red or burning as much as nine times by page ninety-one a bit redundant. I think the editors could have pushed the author to find other ways to express the feeling so commonly felt by those coming of age. But, it would be wrong to end this review on a sour note.

If there is one page that captures the joy of reading this book it is page fifty-five…The graphic novel page simply reads as a writing on glass panes: We are only we until we run into you and me……Call it mind stopping… as Jaycee tumbles through her relationship with a best friend. How true, right? Things remain honky-fine with friends until we really expose who we are, our core, then problems, the differences glare between our emotions. But what‘s important is this isn’t EXACTLY how page fifty-five reads but rather this way:  We are only we until we RUIN into you and me….This is a slip of genius,,, it still means the same as the first interpretation might, but the insertion of the “I” to swap run for ruin emphasizes the central, strong voice character, I. At the same time, the word ruin further elaborates upon the meaning of the entire glass writing-this book is about us, you, me, the kids we grew up with and never will forget. I think this is a book that will not be forgotten. I’m just saying, take the chance and if a patron speaks of grief send them to this book. That could do a world of good.

Gerald Franquemont  

I rate this a B+ read with an underlying tone of great.


Posted by GeraldF on September 12, 2016