Title: You Were Here
Author: Cori McCarthy
Genre: YA Contemporary
Edition: Library eBook
Blurb: Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?
On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.
As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.
Review: I wasn’t planning on posting a review today, but then, I wasn’t planning on reading this book in 24 hours either. Let’s start with how I found it. I was on NetGalley checking to see what pending book requests I was waiting to hear back from when I noticed that I had a title listed under “Will Not Give Feedback.” How it got there, I’m not sure, not when I requested it back in 2016. It has long since been archived, but I found an eBook copy of it through my library, so I figured why not?
Have you ever read a book that blew you away so completely, you had to talk about it right away, just to get the feelings out? That’s how I felt about this one.
I’m not sure why it hit me so hard. It’s a tough subject, sure, but I could not stop reading. This is a well-written character study in grief and what it does to people. Jake died doing something stupid (he did a back flip off the top of some playground equipment and broke his neck), but everyone in this book has processed it differently. Jaycee has distanced herself from everyone and has started doing the same reckless behaviors as her brother so that she can feel close to him. Her former best friend, Natalie, has never told Jaycee that she witnessed the accident, as she was hiding from the older boys, who were all drunk, waiting for the chance to tell on them all. Mik, one of Jake’s best friends, has pretty much stopped talking to people, but silently has joined Jaycee in her trips to the abandoned mental hospital every year on the anniversary of Jake’s death.
Rounding out our group is Zach, Natalie’s boyfriend, who takes nothing seriously as a way to distance himself from his abusive home life. And Bishop, Zach’s friend, who is recovering from the breakup of his emotionally abusive girlfriend. All of these characters are incredibly flawed and struggling with different issues in their lives. It all came across as very real. Real people are flawed. Real people are confused and don’t know what to do with their lives. Real people don’t know how to move past something terrible that has happened to them.
This is a sad story, but there was also quite a bit of dark humor. That helps a lot, because despite the sadness, I didn’t actually get misty-eyed until the very end. I’m not going to spoil it, but I will just say this: the paper airplane. You’ll know it when you see it.
GoodReads rating: 5 stars. This book will stick with me for a long time. Why didn’t I read this back in 2016?