Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Hachette Canada | Little Brown for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 272 pages
Series: Stand Alone
Format: Arc
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For Review
Find the Author: Website | Twitter
Buy the Book: Amazon CA | Amazon CA | The Book Depository

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 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.

"A Lilac bush. She would be reincarnated as a Lilac bush. And she would love it. She loved Lilacs like it was a religion. She said nothing smelled as good as a Lilac bush. Whenever she saw one, she'd stop and smell it. And not just smell but inhale it, ingest it"-Danny

From time to time you come across those books that bury themselves into your very soul. The characters burrowing their way into your hearts, and finding a comfy spot to stay there forever. Characters so powerful that you know you will care for them as if they were real friends. When You Were Here will do EXACTLY that to you. Be prepared to meet some lovely fictional friends and to shed a tear or two. When You Were Here will take you on an emotional journey.

Sometimes I write reviews immediately after I read the book, and sometimes I wait a few days waiting for the feelings to subside and write a review with a mind more clear. It wouldn't matter when I wrote this review, this book left me with feelings that I will be feeling for a long time. It left me laughing through tears.

I usually have a very hard time getting into and relating to a Male POV. Maybe it's because I am not a male, so I feel it's harder for me to relate and get into their mind. It's like I remain an outsider the entire time while reading the book; However, that was not the case with Danny. He was by far, the most powerful male main character that I have come across. I was able to relate to him more ways than one and actually feel what he was going through. Daisy Whitney did a superb job at developing his character and letting his story unfold at a realistic pace. She let us experience each stage of grief, pain and frustration right along side Danny. She also allowed us to be there for his high times as well. He wasn't this angry, angsty character. He had good moments, and he had low moments.

Another favourite character of mine was Kana. She was the light inside Danny's tunnel. When we Danny was going through one of his dark times, Kana came to the rescue and cheered us Danny right up! There was such an exuberance to her.

And although we only got to know her after the fact of her death, Danny's mother was a beautiful character. She seemed wise, gentle and caring. Danny's memories and recollections were a great touch to the novel. We got to know a lovely character!

The main storyline of this novel may be a tough subject to handle; Raw and sad at times. But it is the beautiful characters that made When You Were Here blossom.

The hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the vibrant Kana, the laughter, the tears and of course, Sandy Koufax made this novel a beautiful reading experience.

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  1. I've seen some really fantastic things about When You Were Here, and, as a long time lover of contemporary fiction, I'm sure that I will love it. Great review! I love it when an author writes a convincing male POV. Have you read The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour? That's another great male POV.

    -Taylor @ Reading is the Thing

  2. I LOVE this book. I read an ARC of it in November and it has completely and utterly stayed with me since then. I cried throughout the entire thing. My roommate is reading it now and I am crying just listening to the audio. lol!!!! Another good male POV book that works well (and is written by a woman) is Robyn Schneider's THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. I reviewed it a few days ago (you can find the review on my blog), and I was really impressed by that authentic voice too. :-) Great review, Cathy!

  3. I am not that fanatic of books due to my very hectic schedule at work, but I got the chance to read a summary of the book. I discovered that it is filled of emotion, humor and strong voice. Both love and death are the themes presented here in this book.


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