You Were Here is a beautifully written story about loss, friendship, love, and growing up. Jaycee’s older brother, Jake, died tragically after performing a stunt in front of his friends on the night of his high school graduation. A stunt that he had done successfully a dozen times before, went completely wrong and impacted everyone close to Jake. Completely overtaken by grief, Jaycee decide to honor her brother’s daredevil ways by recreating his stunts without any consideration for safety or her own life. Concerned for her well-being Mik (Jake’s former best friend), Natalie (Jaycee’s ex-best friend), Zach (Natalie’s boyfriend) and Bishop (Zach’s best friend) decide to join Jaycee in her quest to re-live some of Jake’s adventures.
This story is told in multiple points of view. Normally I would find this very distracting and difficult to follow, but McCarthy also tells the story in different styles. Cori McCarthy combines art in the form of Bishop’s tagging, graphic novel styling via Mik’s POV, and traditional story telling. This mash up of styles makes reading this heart-rending and angsty book a unique experience.
I completely fell in love with the characters, especially Mik and Zach. Mik, a selective mute, is the strong and silent type. His love for Jaycee is steadfast and unwavering, despite all the mixed signals she gives him. I like how the relationship between these two slowly evolves and becomes something more intense and complicated. Which, in turn, makes Jaycee have to grow as a character as well. Zach started out as a typical guy. He seemed to live for having sex with his girlfriend, getting drunk or high, and playing video games. As the story progresses different sides of Zach’s personality come through and his character becomes more complex.
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy is a moving story about loss, friendship, and love. This story is about growing up, and letting the past go in order to move forward to the future. Jaycee will make your heart ache as she pulls everyone along with her through her grieving process. Cori McCarthy’s writing is magnificent. I cannot wait to read more from this talented author.