We Were Here
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We Were Here

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,031 ratings  ·  224 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...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Ember (first published October 5th 2009)
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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
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
Kim Tomsic
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
"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...more
Jack Y.
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Pou Wong
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
Dec 12, 2009 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens who like real-life situational novels
Shelves: teen, wishlist
This is one of the best teen fiction book I've read this year (2009); a great book for reluctant readers. This is a coming-of-age story about Miguel, a teenager from Bakersfield who gets sent to a group home in San Jose, CA. after committing a crime he can't bring himself to talk about. He and two other teens (memorable characters all) run away from the group home in hopes of going to Mexico to build new lives there.

This book has a powerful, gripping, honest narration from the perspective of Mi...more
Jose Pena
I recently read “We Were Here” By Matt DE La Pena. The book is about how Miguel was sent to juvie,during his time in juvie he meet Rondell. Then Miguel got transfer to a group home where he’s going to be their for a year. In the group home Miguel got in a flight with Mong. Mong is Asian kid that has a kidney problem. Later on the book Rondell got transfer to the same group home as Miguel is in. Days later Mong told Miguel if he wants to escape from the group home but Miguel didn't trust him. Lat...more
I read “We Were Here” written by Matt De La Pena which is about a teenager named Miguel who was placed in a juvenile hall and a group home and told everyone he was placed there for stealing a bike. Though, he did something else he felt very guilty for to be placed there. He was in juvenile hall for three days where he meets Rondell Law and after he got sentenced to a group home for a year but with the requirement that he write in a journal of everything he feels or that happens. His first day in...more
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!!
I believe everyone should read this book, sometime, anytime, at one point in their life. Really. Read this book. That's my word.

"We Were Here" by Matt de la Peña is actually, IMO, a 4.5/5 stars.

Sometimes the date/time really confused me (particularly July) but then again it is supposed to be a journal and so maybe the date confusion is sort of perfect, making it seem like it isn't really fiction at all because, well, Miguel really doesn't need to say what time of day it was when whatever they d...more
Read my review here! http://adithi718.wix.com/booklover#!W...

Here's a little of what I wrote:
I'm in awe.
I just finished We Were Here by Matt De La Pena and I can honestly say that it was one of the best books I've read this year.
It started off fairly slow, and I wasn't sure how much I would like it... this is mostly because I have never read a book quite like this before. But I was pleasantly and overwhelmingly surprised. This book was a journey, both figuratively and literally....more
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!
Yasmin Yunos
Interesting plot, a lot of unexpected twists and that's what I loved about the book. Miguel the protagonist in the novel, is an inspirational character he teaches the readers to move forward and forget about the past. What's been done cannot be undone, I think that was what the author Matt de la Pena wanted the readers to achieve after reading this book, believing in yourself and forgetting about the past was the message the author wanted to send to the readers, well in my opinion. The novel is...more
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!
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.
Ms. Littell
I began this book when the author came to visit our school, but I didn't get to finish it before he came and set it aside until now.

I loved the character's voice in this story. As a guy who escapes from Juvi with two unlikely accomplices, Miguel travels up and down the CA coast attempting to come to terms with what he has done. While it is a mystery, I had a feeling early on at what was happening but found the story of these guys interesting nonetheless. As with many YA books, it felt as though...more
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.
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.
Kelli Mann
Jul 11, 2014 Kelli Mann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high school readers
I really liked this book; at times it was just beautifully written. The characters' stories are heartbreaking, but still hopeful. I think this book was a little bit too long, but if you enjoy books that meander through a story at an easy pace, this is good for that.

The narrator, Miguel, is smart and thoughtful. This book is largely his reflections on life. He makes a couple of unlikely friendships that change him. Ultimately, he needs to come to terms with something terrible he was involved in...more
Emmanuel Grear
Miguel got sent to juvie because he was reckless in the free world. Juvie set Miguel straight, but while he was in juvie he had some experience that changed him and allowed him to find the good within him. Miguel loved his mother very much but his mom was disappointed in his decisions that got him sentence to time in jail, when she drop him off she didn't even look at him for the last time and Miguel could notice the sadness in his mother eyes,While Miguel was locked up he learned that life isn'...more
I liked the narrative voice in this a whole lot, and the journal style was done well. I was *super* into about the first half of it and it was a quick read. The latter half wasn't as well done in terms of pacing, and by the end I felt the character of Rondell was just offensively stereotypical--he's a very large, intimidating, cognitively-impaired illiterate young black man who's unpredictably violent and a basketball genius. Really? The "Of Mice and Men"-type relationship between Rondell and th...more
This book was really fantastic. It reminds me a bit of Walter Dean Myers's Monster, but is more mature. Miguel tells the story through a journal, and I have a much better sense of his identity than I did of Steve's (from Monster). Miguel is authentic, and the voice that tells the story does so in such a fluid way that even when he's using vernacular, the reader is caught up in the story. As a teacher, this is something I appreciate: my kids want to read books that they can relate to, but many of...more
Jesus Galvan
Do you know someone close to you or yourself have been in a foster house and tried to escape? This is what Miguel had to do in "We Were Here" by Matt de la pena. Setting takes place in San Francisco, California in a foster home with other kids called "the Lighthouse" since it was yellow and white. I read it because some kids face a lot of things in their life either end up in juvi or getting taken away from their parents.

Setting starts when Miguel almost gets killed by a kid named Rondell in hi...more
James Harris
I think this book is amazing and I want to see more of it. I honestly hate reading, but when I picked up this book and got into it I couldn't put it down. I mean like I would actually go home and read not only for the school assignment, but for fun. This book had everything I could ever imagine in one book. To me it was unreal but amazing. I love all the characters in this book, and would strongly suggest this book to anyone who doesn't like reading or want to read something that will have you l...more
I actually started this book in April because due to the hard work of my department chair, the author came to our school for a literary luncheon with about 60 of our students. As life happens, I only got to about page 100 before the date. However, the students (many non readers included) said it was their favorite of the year. While I didn't find the mystery of his brother to be there, I did like Miguel's voice and development throughout the novel and understand why the students liked it so much...more
Elizabeth B
Before I start, let me clarify the low rating so as to not to deter any potential readers: This book is nominated for an Arkansas Teen Award and I was reading it specifically for this reason. The story itself is a remarkable one – a bit of the Outsiders mixed with every on the road saga I’ve ever read. Miguel is a strong lead character that jumps off the page not for his criminal acts or his redemption but more for the way in which he looks at the world around him. Rather than descriptions of hi...more
Diane Ferbrache
Story of a Hispanic teen who has done something terrible enough to be sentenced to a group home. Told in journal format, it's very interesting so far. Miguel's voice is very authentic.
Miguel is content to be left alone to serve his sentence, but he is haunted by what happened and why his mother couldn't even bear to look at him and say goodbye. When given the chance, he escapes with a couple of fellow residents. The plan is to get to Mexico and start a new life. The reality of life on the road...more
Steve Duong
Best book I've read all year, hands down. MY favorite journey of this year in the literary world. Easy read with a voice that speaks directly to the soul. I love the way this story is written, with a contemporary urban-speak-english. Although it did pose as an intimidating narration, the story would probably speak just as well to readers of all types. Upon meeting and greeting the characters into the story you may feel their presence will weigh down the story with their first-impression stubborn...more
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Matt de la Peña is the author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels—Ball Don't Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living—as well as the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis. 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...more
More about Matt de la Pena...
Mexican WhiteBoy The Living (The Living, #1) I Will Save You Curse of the Ancients (Infinity Ring #4) Ball Don't Lie

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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.” 31 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.” 14 likes
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