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We Were Here

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,634 Ratings  ·  323 Reviews
The story of one boy and his journey to find himself.

When it happened, Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge gave him a year in a group home—said he had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he actually did Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened, his mom can’t even look at him in the face. Any home besides hi
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Delacorte Press (first published October 5th 2009)
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Adrian De Santiago Ortiz Of course he does, Migue comes to face what he did and by the end of the book he slowly stat forgiving him self for it. He knows he cant change what…moreOf course he does, Migue comes to face what he did and by the end of the book he slowly stat forgiving him self for it. He knows he cant change what happned but he knows he has to keep moving forward.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
"People always think there's this huge hundred-foot-high barrier that separates doing good from doing bad. But there's not. There's nothing. There's not even a little anthill. You just take one baby step in any direction and you're already there. You've doing something awful. And your life is changed forever.”

A couple months ago, I saw Matt de la Peña speak on a panel at Boston Book Festival along with Andrew Smith, Jason Reynolds, and Brendan Kiely. Besides Smith (who is one of my favorite au
Jan 13, 2015 Julissa rated it really liked it
Yo, this book it is really a journey man.

A journey to acceptance and self-recognition.

I really love Matt de la Peña's writting style. I discover him in My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories and I'm glad I pursued him... and will read more of him.

I don't know if it is because I am latina just like Miguel but I felt pretty connected to him, loved his voice and thoughts.

This book is about people who do bad stuff. About guilt. About self-punishment, bitterness. About losing hope, and faith
Aug 05, 2009 Abby rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
Reviewed for work, but this review reflects my personal, not professional opinion, of this book. We Were Here is the journal of Miguel Castenada, who has been sent to live in a group home for something terrible that he did -- something so terrible he can't even think about it, let alone talk about what happened with anyone else. (Of course, any reader who has read a few "troubled teen" books will be able to pretty much figure out what happened after reading less than 30 pages of this book). At t ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Kathrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Critical positions toward this book that I take issue with:

1. A part-white/part-anything else protagonist is a literary device to allow white readers permission to identify with the main character, thus garnering mainstream appeal.
This attitude debases the validity of a multiracial identity. It is especially insulting when the author himself holds this identity. If, for some reason, some white readers are more willing to identify, ok, but I'm suspect that all readers lack the capacity to read/id
SO here's my updated review on this book.

just as a heads-up, the format of this book is a journal that the main character, Miguel, has to write in for his court-ordered rehabilitation. He is supposed to write in it during his time in a group home.

Let's get started with the characters. Oh my God, the characters. I loved reading this book because I felt like I was Miguel. The way de la Peña wrote for Miguel makes it actually feel like you're reading Miguel's writing. I love that this was pieced to
A great pick for our Februrary book discussion this month with my librarian friends! I just loved Matt's other book, Mexican White Boy Mexican WhiteBoy and We Were Here is just as compelling. Miguel is in juvi for a crime he doesn't reveal but he is totally guilt ridden about. He gets into an argument with Mong, an Asian with a severely scarred face, many other problems and health issues---scary, scary kid. When Rondell arrives; Miguel already knows him there is more of a flow to his daily life. ...more
Guadalupe Ramirez
May 10, 2015 Guadalupe Ramirez rated it really liked it
Shelves: spring-2015
I wasn't expecting to like this book much because at first the characters seemed so stereotypical. I heard the "Mexican" in Miguel's voice, and the "Black" in Rondell. On and off throughout the book, I wondered what a Black student might think reading it- the over the top religious simpleton might be offensive.

Apart from that, I enjoyed the story of three troubled teens discovering themselves as they break away from a group home. I was moved by the scene where Miguel discovers their files, read
May 10, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
For upper middle and high school readers, especially boys. It's about regret, accidents, forgiveness, friendship, acceptance, remembering, resilience. The story is the journey of three boys who escaped a group home but find their own path into the past to heal. I was a little put off by De La Pena's treatment/characterization of the black character, but I loved the bromance that developed among the three teen characters.
Mariah Allie
Mar 22, 2016 Mariah Allie rated it it was amazing
I think this was an awesome book. The details really made me interested in reading more and more. I always wanted to read this book. It was about a boy named Miguel who got sent to Juvy for doing a "really bad thing" which tore his family apart and made his mother hate him. Eventually his mother sent him to a group home for "rehab" and to think about what he did. At that group home he met some people for who he spent most of his time with there before he snuck out. Something else I really enjoye ...more
Theresa Christensen
Apr 01, 2016 Theresa Christensen rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 25, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Thank you Amy Dailey for insisting I needed to read this touching story of three boys running away from a foster home. You were right it does call to mind OF MICE AND MEN in many, many ways.
Miguel has been sent to foster care for a terrible crime. The judge tells him to keep a journal for a year as part of his sentence. The story is told from the journal. Miguel,Mong, and Rondell will break the reader's heart, but will also bring you smiles and laughter too. The three young men run away from a f
Mrs. Lapacka
Mar 20, 2016 Mrs. Lapacka rated it it was amazing
Another rare five-star read for me. As an English teacher, I'm constantly looking for books that will speak to my 'nonreaders'. Over the years, I've 'captured' the attention of many, many kids with Sherman Alexie's 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian', but when those first-time book lovers come to me for a follow-up choice, I'm often stumped. After yet another conversation with a book seller about what might be out there with a similar voice (or at least a similar effect on relucta ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Clara rated it it was amazing
The main character of this story is a teenage boy named Miguel. He lived with his family which was his mom and his brother Diego, his dad died fighting in the army. The book takes place mainly in California most of the time, and a time period of about two months. The main idea or conflict in this book is that Miguel did something really bad he had to go to Juvi, and then to a group home, and during all this he was supposed to wrote a journal to keep track of his thoughts. While in this group hom ...more
Myles Messner
May 28, 2015 Myles Messner rated it liked it
Matt tells the story of a trouble making teenager named Miguel in the story We Were Here. Miguel is smart with a good heart, but he struggles to make the right decisions. After committing a crime, the Judge decides to send Miguel to a group home for a year. Miguel also has to write in a personal journal for a year so his counselor can try to understand what he is thinking. Little does the judge know, sending Miguel to a group home was doing him a favor. Miguel's mom couldn't even look him in th ...more
May 16, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
I got this book at a conference for teachers I attended last summer (NTCTELA). It was the second time I'd heard the author, Matt de la Pena, speak. I love his back story!

And I loved this story. I really felt for Miguel even though I figured out his deep dark secret entirely too early in the story. It's a great coming-of-age story, especially appealing to the urban gang-banger wannabe.

I'm just not sure if putting it on the "Mature" shelf of my classroom is going to be enough. The cussing was dep
Kim Tomsic
Jul 26, 2011 Kim Tomsic rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-read
In author Matt de la Peña's young adult book, WE WERE HERE, three troubled teens believe their crimes and the cost of their damage leave them with nothing left to lose. The boys, Miguel, Rondell and Mong, begin their relationship with spit and fists flying. But somehow this group of teens form an unlikely team and escape their group home to make a daring dash to Mexico. Along their journey of pain, humor, rejection, adventure, love and brutality they find friendship as well as some redeeming val ...more
Danielle Larca
Feb 10, 2011 Danielle Larca rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
"Your whole life, man, it can change in one minute." (p. 99)

No one knows this better than Miguel. One day he's living with his mom and brother, Diego, in their Stockton California home and the next he's in a group home with a bunch of stupid guys and a surfer dude counselor, Jaden, who keeps trying to talk to him about what happened. But Miguel can't talk about what happened. Not with Jaden; not with anyone. After getting in a fight with the skinny, bald dude named Mong, Miguel decides to steer
Jack Y.
Jun 02, 2013 Jack Y. rated it it was amazing
When the event happened, nothing was the same for Miguel, the main character of We Were Here by Matt De La Peña. A judge put Miguel in a juvenile home after a terrible crime, and sentenced him to write his thoughts in a journal so the counselor could figure out how his mind worked. The judge didn’t know that he was doing Miguel a favor. After the horrible night, his relationship with his mother was changed forever, and she couldn’t even look him in the face. According to Miguel, anywhere but his ...more
Nov 28, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Debbie by: Jennifer Bueler
I picked up this book after hearing an interview with the author on Read-Write-Think's Text Messages book podcast. At the time, I was teaching remedial reading to a bunch of kids who sounded a lot like the characters in the book. In addition, many of my students - remedial readers and proficient readers alike - were very much searching for realistic fiction with gritty themes.

I have to say I was never once disappointed by We Were Here. Although I normally would have had trouble connecting to ch
Pou Wong
Mar 25, 2014 Pou Wong rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome ! There is always a twist in it, the book is written well, and with a lot of details. I could really feel what Miguel was feeling just through the words that was being used. This book is just wonderful. The main character, Miguel, went through a lot of stuff in Juvenile, and outside of Juvenile. The struggle that he went through in this book is unforgettable, and very touching. Miguel makes a really strong bond with his new friends, and they all help each other out of stick ...more
Nik's Nook
While I didn't love it while I was reading it, I liked the ending & the message. Ultimately, I only stuck with it because of my love for the character of Rondell Law - totally stereotypical but just a lovable personality, but at the end, I was glad I didn't give it up.
Mrs. Scott
Apr 21, 2016 Mrs. Scott rated it really liked it
Likeable mixed-up kids think they need to start over, but really they need to connect with someone, grieve, and then hold onto life. Very moving, very cool how de la Pena weaves in the books Miguel is reading: Of Mice & Men, The Color Purple, Catcher in the Rye, The House on Mango Street. De la Pena totally gets the caught-in-the-middle aspect of being biracial, and makes us get it, too. A tough book with enough foul language and hopelessness to make me careful about recommending it--but Mig ...more
Jeremy Chen
Apr 29, 2016 Jeremy Chen rated it really liked it
I read ''We were here'' recommended by one of my friend, it was a great book I would rate it 4 out of 5 because the book was interesting. The book keeps your attention from other thing and makes you want to read the next page after you're finished with the first page. I liked how the author wrote down the thoughts and voice of Miguel, the main character when he expressed his emotions in the book. I would read the other books that the author wrote because all the books that he wrote are interesti ...more
May 03, 2015 Charissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This is a YA journey of growth about three troubled teens. Miguel has just been sentenced to a group home for a crime he committed. He’s teetering on the edge of hopelessness as he gets into a fight with a psychotic Chinese kid named Mong and is paired with a huge black kid named Rondell—the same roommate he had in juvie that almost killed him. When the three unlikely friends team up to escape their group home and work their way from San Francisco to Mexico to start anew, they learn a lot about ...more
Ricky Masters
Mar 12, 2015 Ricky Masters rated it it was amazing
We Were Here goes through the struggle of 3 young men after they break out of a group home. They are headed for Mexico. I really enjoyed this book, it had a couple of plot twists, and throughout the book your mind is racing to see what Miguel actually did to end up in the group home. In the beginning I had no idea what he did, but throughout the book I started to have my own opinions and guesses. I really enjoyed the writing style. It was written in a journal entry form, and the writer uses a lo ...more
Haley Ziegler
Mar 12, 2015 Haley Ziegler rated it it was ok

We Were Here is presented as the journal of Miguel after he is sentenced to one year in a group home. We do not find out what landed him in the group home until much later in the book. For me, the curiosity of what Miguel did was one of the only reasons I kept reading. While I enjoyed the actual story lines, I found the writing style very hard to get into. His journal entries use a lot of slang and colloquial terms that you would hear in present-day middle and high schools. I am able to apprecia

Alec Rife
Mar 11, 2015 Alec Rife rated it liked it
We Were Here is a coming-of-age story of three youths trying to break free. Not a spiritual or mental freedom, but a literal one. Miguel, Mong, and Rondell are three troubled kids on the run. We experience their adventures through the journal of Miguel, a juvenile delinquent who is sent to a group home for a crime that he struggles to come to grips with throughout the entire novel. This book touches on several difficult themes, including depression, troubled family relationships, terminal illnes ...more
Karyn Buibish
Mar 11, 2015 Karyn Buibish rated it really liked it
Matt de la Pena's writing style in this book is different, yet refreshing. His use of slang in the characters' voice really gave it a unique twist to the young adult genre of books. Personally, I enjoyed his adaptation to how younger kids talk in this generation. Miguel, the main character, really takes you on a journey through his difficult life after "what he did." De la Pena really makes you want to keep reading with that last part: "what he did." Miguel repeats that over and over in the begi ...more
Emily Grasso
Mar 11, 2015 Emily Grasso rated it liked it
"We Were Here" is an intense and thought-provoking novel about a transformational journey made by three very troubled adolescents. While I was not particularly fond of this book, there were some very strong themes that kept me interested and involved in the plot. The theme of friendship and brotherhood was evident throughout the entire story and played a huge role in Miguel's development as an individual and his outlook on relationships with others. The fact that he finds himself on this unexpec ...more
Allanah Osborn
Dec 10, 2014 Allanah Osborn rated it really liked it

We Were Here is the story of a half-Mexican, half-American kid who gets into trouble. The story follows this coming-of-age novel as the protagonist, Miguel, experiences juvi and then a group home. In both of these places he makes unexpected allies. The three of them break out of the group home and begin on their adventure south towards the Mexican border. The intention is to start anew in Mexico, away from their troubled pasts. The novel is written as the journal entries
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Matt de la Peña is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels and two picture books. Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and ...more
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“But when you read books you almost feel like you're out there in the world. Like you're going on this adventure right with the main character. At least, that's the way I do it. It's actually not that bad. Even if it is mad nerdy.” 37 likes
“People always think there's this huge hundred-foot-high barrier that separates doing good from doing bad. But there's not. There's nothing. There's not even a little anthill. You just take one baby step in any direction and you're already there. You've doing something awful. And your life is changed forever.” 19 likes
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