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We Were Here

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4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,865 Ratings  ·  370 Reviews
Newbery Award-winning author Matt de la Peña's We Were Here is a "fast, funny, smart, and heartbreaking" novel [Booklist].

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 hap
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ebook, 336 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)
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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
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Julissa
Jan 13, 2015 Julissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Abby
Aug 05, 2009 Abby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathrina
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
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bjneary
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
Laura
May 16, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Guadalupe Ramirez
May 10, 2015 Guadalupe Ramirez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mariah Allie
Mar 22, 2016 Mariah Allie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah
May 10, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jazmyne
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
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Myles Messner
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
Jack Y.
Jun 02, 2013 Jack Y. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Danielle Larca
"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
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Phoenix_ Phoenix_
This is a terrific book. It took me a while to finish it because I was reading so many other books, but I found that I would come back to this book at the right times, and could not get away from it (not that I wanted to). This book resonated with me deeply. In the end, I find this book to be both compelling and touching. It made me cry. The book is about taking responsibility for your actions, but also about learning how to forgive yourself. Miguel is a highly relatable character to me, as he e ...more
Clara
Feb 07, 2016 Clara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kim Tomsic
Jul 26, 2011 Kim Tomsic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Theresa Christensen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mrs. Lapacka
Mar 20, 2016 Mrs. Lapacka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Judy
Sep 25, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Pou Wong
Mar 25, 2014 Pou Wong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mrs. Scott
Apr 21, 2016 Mrs. Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chynna
Nov 13, 2009 Chynna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. I recommend this book to all of my friends. This book is actually one that I can realate to, not saying that I went to juvie but Miguel and I have a lot in common.This book remains interesting from the first word to the last. It teaches you a lot about friendship and that you can find true friends anywhere. The best part of the book however is the ending when you finally get to hear what Miguel DID!! all-around great book and I will remember this book forever!!
Anna
Awesome! I love Matt de la Pena's writing. I read this over the course of a week because it's pretty dense and intense and I wanted to stretch it out and make it last. I love the way that Miguel's character transformed and really grew up over the course of this novel. I love the writing because it's so honest yet very engaging and not too depressing. Really, one of the best books I've read this year. Awesome, awesome, awesome!
Anji
Jul 07, 2009 Anji rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a really cool journey, which is chronicled in Miguel's journal. De la Pena's characters are his strongest suit, and even the minor characters come to life on the pages. I especially like how each character deals with adversity in such a believable way. A great story with a great theme!
Ricki
Nov 17, 2009 Ricki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! It took me on a wonderful journey and was everything I expected it to be. I think Miguel's story will resonate with many kids. It is a book that teaches a great lesson of empathy. Miguel is a character who has a will to do what is truly morally right. I will recommend this book to many of my students. It has earned a spot on the "Favorites" shelf in my classroom.
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.
Daria
Nov 29, 2009 Daria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This book was breathtaking and heartbreaking. Matt de la Pena has a real gift for writing tough but sensitive male characters whose lives are far from perfect but who are trying the best they know how to live a good life.
Nance
Mar 23, 2009 Nance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Miguel's journal as he struggled to deal with what he did. The mix of characters truly demonstrate how bad things often happen to kids because they don't always think about the consequences prior to acting. I found Mong tragic and Rondell somewhat of an enigma.
Karlan
Aug 04, 2009 Karlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Three emotionally fragile boys escape from a CA group home and hit the road. Their troubles are upsetting and surprising. It hurts to know that kids really exist with these unfair lives.
Michele Knott
So powerful and amazingly crafted.
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Matt de la Peña is the New York Times best-selling, Newbery-medal-winning 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 v ...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.” 41 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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