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You Were Here

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Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations. Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn' live past graduation. Jaycee is dealing with her brother's death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake's daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She's not crazy, okay? She just doesn't have a whole lot of respect for staying alive. Jaycee doesn't expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she's joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and... Mik. He doesn't talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother. Cori McCarthy's gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world's largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

404 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 1, 2016

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About the author

Cory McCarthy

20 books312 followers
CORY (previously Cori)
…earned degrees in poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. They have authored four acclaimed YA novels, with a middle grade series, young adult contemporary, and nonfiction picture book forthcoming. Cory coauthored the bestselling ONCE & FUTURE, a finalist for the New England Book Award, with their spouse A.R. Capetta. They live in the mountains of Vermont where they champion queer teens and raise a young maverick.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 434 reviews
Profile Image for XxTainaxX Curvy and Nerdy.
1,473 reviews450 followers
March 12, 2016
Grief is a very unique thing. This book shows it in different facets. The main focus is on Jaycee and the loss of her older brother but the story manages to capture the ways that others too were affected. Natalie is the uptight ex-best friend who doesn't know where life will lead her and is scared by what that means. In her fear, she makes some really big mistakes but she also does some good. She's not as put together as people think. Her boyfriend Zach is underestimated and he doesn't have a plan. More than anything he's got this very touching emotional and protective side that makes me want to comfort him. Bishop is his best friend. They have grown apart largely due to a failed love relationship that Bishop is still trying to get over. Tyler is Zach's brother and best friend to the deceased. He's cruel to his siblings. We get a little insight into his form of grief but it doesn't excuse his actions. Finally, Mik is the former best friend to Jaycee's lost brother. He's literally the strong silent type. A selective mute. There's so much depth to him though and the writer manages to convey it in an amazing way considering he doesn't talk most of the book lol. He was very much my favorite. Jaycee struggles to find herself on the other side of the loss of her brother. She's this beautiful yet surprisingly awkward teen that you hope finds her way. I felt like I was able to connect with the characters which is something I don't find very often. The story itself is very innovative. It combines art via Bishop's constant tagging (you actually get to see "what he drew"), graphic novel styling in Mik's POV, and typical story telling. I found the writing engaging and the build up and angst intense. There are sex scenes but not between the H and h and not descriptive in nature. Safety gang: there is cheating but NOT by our heroine/hero. She is very naive in the romance department.

ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,614 followers
March 2, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

Jaycee's brother Jake was a daredevil, always taking dares and doing crazy stunts. One horrific day, right after he graduated high school... that one dare.... ended his life. You know there are a lot of people that do stunts and things that are dangerous in their lives but in this story, which is I'm sure very true all over the world, you have kids that are drunk and dare each other to do stupid things.


Jaycee walks around with her brother's clothes on, taking dares, acting out. People are afraid of her and her crazy behavior, she never really went through the grieving process.

Jaycee's old friends and some new ones come together to try to get through things as a group, to help Jaycee and to help one another. Each one of these kids have secrets and they will be revealed and they will get through them, together.


"Natalie was my best friend from preschool through seventh grade," Jaycee said to Bishop.
"You wouldn't've guessed it, would you?"
Natalie poked Jaycee in the shoulder. "I was the only one who put up with how you let whatever's in your head fall out of your mouth."
"And I put up with you turning forty on your eighth birthday."
They narrowed their eyes on each other.

There is a lot of stupidity going on within this group, but I still liked them. I wanted to smack a few of them several times, but you know, that's okay, I feel that way a lot with characters in books. These characters still got to me and I fell in love with the whole story line.

The little group consists of Jaycee, Mik, Natalie, Bishop and Zach. They all go on little journey's together that Jaycee's brother had on a map she found. Also, Jaycee and Mik have a secret crush on each other that comes out in the book in a very crazy/sweet way. I loved Mik's character the most. Zach and Natalie were on and off, they have a weird thing going and Bishop is the one with a broken heart from another girl. Some of them have some mental issues that they have to deal with and no one else knows about. I felt sorry for a lot of them.

But to be honest, I would have loved to have gone to all of the places they visited.....BUT...not for all of the reasons they did, I mean no death in the family or friend or anything.

Jaycee, Jake, Mik and Natalie pretty much grew up together. The boys being around 5 years older.


"Oh, we were not. Jake and him"-Natalie pointed to Mik-"were doing that. Jaycee and I were in the middle of a controlled reenactment of the discovery of King Tut's tomb-which had taken us weeks to prepare, I might add-when Jake got the brilliant idea to fill the pumpkin with gasoline and try to shoot a flaming arrow at it. So I tattled. That's right, I tattled, and we're all still alive, so you're welcome." She realized what she'd said way too late. "Well, not all of us, but..." She glanced at Jaycee and was stunned to find her beaming.
"I'd completely forgotten about the gasoline. Think about the explosion!"
"King Tut? Flaming arrows? I wish I grew up with you guys," Bishop said.

These kids have to go through some really sad revelations, share secrets they have kept and that have put some of them into therapy for a few years. They have to confess and try to forgive.

There was just something about this book that I really loved and it's already on my Amazon Wishlist. The book has graphics inside too and I want to see those in the real book! It's just too cool.

Also, at the end of the book the author talks about the places in the book, they were/are real! She says to google them and some of the places are still open to the public! I would love to see them. All of them even though some are no longer there. I'm going to list pictures of the ones she mentions.

*I would like to thank NETGALLEY and SOURCEBOOKS for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

↓ This was The Ridges TB Ward that was torn to the ground. The kids in the book are running around in this building, well not running per se!


↓ This was the Randall Park Mall, the kids in the book went sneaking into, and one of them got hurt.


↓ This was The Geauga Lake Amusement Park the kids sneaked into as well. You can still see The Big Dipper in the background, they climb on this in the book and some other things are found when they are there. The author worked here as a zombie, she said it was her first job :-) How cool!


↓ This is The Moonville Tunnel that you can still visit today!


↓ And last but not least, this is the Gates of Hell that you can still visit today.


You can google all of these things to read about them and I thank the author for adding this information for us.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,723 reviews1,278 followers
January 14, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Fire and NetGalley.)

“My mom hated this board. She said he’d break his neck.” Her voice was eerily smooth. Isn’t that funny?”
“I’m not laughing.”

This book was a bit of a disappointment for me.

The characters in this were okay, but I didn’t really like any of them. I didn’t get why Jaycee wanted to recreate her brother’s dares, especially the one that killed him, and the other characters were just generally difficult to get a feeling for.

The storyline in this was about Jaycee going to places where her brother had previously done dares, but the pace was just so slow, and I got pretty bored.
There was a bit of romance, and Mik was probably the character that I appreciated the most out of all of them.

The ending to this was okay, but in general I didn’t really enjoy this book.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Nicay.
258 reviews92 followers
December 18, 2015

Review originally posted at Wordpress

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Before I write this review, I just want to share what had just happened. I stared at my paper almost 10 minutes of how I would justify the book, looking for it’s flaws. But damn! It was just hard to think the cons in this story. It doesn't mean that it was the “perfect one”, “perfect book”, “perfect characters”, “perfect story”. Just a simple description, “perfectly imperfect.”

Jaycee Strangelove, great name isn’t it? Her brother died and Jaycee was left suffering emotionally. Born also to be a daredevil, Jaycee find the places Jake explored. Together with her ex-best friend Natalie, Jake, Bishop and Jaycee’s childhood friend Mik. They explore together, dare together, but they didn’t find what they were looking for–they find the missing parts of themselves.

I was astonished by the concept of this book that I promised to myself that I will going to re-read it soon. The story was not only making you imagined in your own heads, thus the story inside made it real. (You will soon find out why. :))

The characters, I mean my buddies? I felt I was became closer to them. I never had so much attachment to the characters that I had read. Yes, I was really engrossed to all the YA’s stories especially to the main character. But this one, main characters or not, I really invest my feelings for them. Like they were just in front of you, sitting beside you, and confess with you. They were REAL. From now on, they will be my fictional squad. :) #Squadgoals

To the story, hell I was really captivated. Like I am the paper and they were the glue, put it together and they will never pull away, except–if you tried to detached it, it will shattered into pieces. (Sorry I was not good for examples. Lol) anyway, I was also astonished to the places mentioned in the book, and God they were absolutely real! I Google it (thanks Google I owe you one) and this are the examples of the places.

-Gates of Hell

-The Big Dipper Roller Coaster

-The Ridges
Huh! To be an UrbEx (Urban Explorer) was the coolest thing I had never imagined, besides skateboarding anyway. :P how I wish I will become one. Haha!


Okay, to end this review, I would like to pinpoint the main lesson in this story. “Don’t find yourself in someone else’s shadow, because you will never find it no matter how hard you find.”


Profile Image for Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf).
445 reviews286 followers
March 24, 2016
4.5 Stars

Wow. This book totally took me by surprise! I love when I get taken by surprise!

Jaycee is still dealing with the death of her big brother 5 years ago, albeit not very well depending on how you look at it. On each anniversary of his death she breaks into an abandoned insane asylum, which was one of her brothers favourite places to do dangerous stunts. Accompanied with one of his old friends, selective mute Mik, and this year joined by some other friends with their own issues, Jaycee must start to move forward.

I absolutely adored the format of this book. Each chapter was from one of the characters perspectives, and it was not all words. One of the characters chapters consisted entirely of graffiti, another's chapters of a graphic novel, and my goodness, it really worked for me!

Straight away I was caught up in the emotion of the story, it was gritty but not in a bad way. There is gritty and there is depressing, the latter this novel is certainly not. The grief subject matter is raw yes, but it is written in such a good way that you can't help but become immersed in it and keep turning the pages!

Every one of the characters were so well written. Each of them had such depth to them, funny enough - especially Mik, who was my favourite character. Each character brought something special to the story and made me pine for the days back at that stage of my life, where everything was starting out and changing, and nothing was ever going to be the same.

A fantastic coming of age, dealing with issues Young Adult story with a touching story, a passionate romance, and more than a few laughs! All leading to an ultimately extremely satisfying conclusion.

Would I recommend You Were Here?

Yes! Attention YA fans! This is the best Young Adult book I have read this year. Absolutely an author to watch!

Many thanks to the author Cori McCarthy and the publisher via NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

For more reviews check out my blog
Profile Image for Beatrice Masaluñga.
1,137 reviews1,662 followers
July 17, 2016
Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A story about teens take an urban exploration and friendships developed. Told in five perspectives, each characters tell their stories with raw emotion about their life issues. The concept of this book is fascinating, each perspective is in 1st person (Jaycee), 3rd person (Zach and Natalie), illustration (Bishop) and graphic novel style(Mik).

Among the characters, Jaycee has the best character development Grieving over the loss of her brother, Jake, she had a hard time letting go by clinging too much on his stuffs, doing reckless things that her brother usually did (it was suicidal) and shuts off everyone. She lets herself to be vulnerable and express her feelings. It's a slow process to let go of someone you lost and it's wonderfully done in this book. However, Mik is my favorite character. He was this mysterious, selective mute guy and I think I have a little crush on him. There is a story behind this guy and why he's connected with Jake's death. I wish there's more Bishop's perspective I absolutely adore his art. His unfortunate relationship made him brokenhearted and he expressed it through his illustrations. To me, he has the least character development though. I'm not the biggest fan of Nat.. in the end I sort of love/hate her. She and Jaycee are best friends but she distanced herself after Jake's death and that caused a strained relationship between them. She has her reasons and I tried to understand her situation. Despite of that, it's nice to see her cleared things up to Jaycee. It's touching to see them reunite. Lastly, Zach may look optimistic and funny, deep inside.. he's lost. He's Nat's boyfriend. I pity him for some reason and I wish he may find happiness. He deserves to have a good life.

It is challenging to read it but I really enjoyed their adventures and they have great character developments. Also, I love the setting and the plot twist. Kudos to Cori McCarthy for writing this book! I recommend it to everyone.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews588 followers
February 17, 2016
Jake was a daredevil, he lived life on the edge, taking dares, doing insane stunts and walking away each time, until his graduation from high school when his wild ways finally caught up with him and he lost both his edge and his life. Five years later and his younger sister, Jaycee cannot let go of his memory or of the Jake she had built up in her mind. Her family has shattered, going from the extremes of taking blame and having a breakdown or pretending Jake didn’t’ exist. Angered, confused and alone, with no one to reach out to for stability, Jaycee seeks to cloak herself in all things Jake, from his clothes to the stunts he pulled, always feeling she was following in his footsteps. But what happens when she has experienced one more day on earth than Jake? What path will she follow? Is it time to make her own way and remember that she will have firsts that Jake never will? Is her obsession with him going to be her downfall, too? How do you honor your personal legend without losing yourself?

Follow this heart-wrenching tale of loss and coming of age, of learning to live for oneself and of trusting in others as Cori McCarthy scrapes your nerves raw with You Were There, the torturous tale of letting go for a group of teens on the brink of adulthood as they reach for hope for the future and remember the past by freeing their own inner demons .

Dark, bold and at times, so filled with gritty emotion there is no way not to become involved in every word, to live out every scene and to feel what each character feels. Some may see this as a search for personal truths, others will see familiar faces in these troubled teens, but no one will walk away unscathed. Powerful, dark and memorable.

I received an ARC edition from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for my honest review.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781492617044
Genre: Death | Grief | NA
Print Length: 400 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Sue.
2,690 reviews170 followers
March 11, 2016
Jaycee's brother Jake was a bit of a dare devil, he always walked on the wild side of life and liked nothing better than to take chances. Except, his last chance ran out and he fell to his death.

Jaycee obviously is devastated and at a loss, she blames her brother, but she also grieves for him.

Dare to drink and create stunts and do them, and you have one lethal concoction.

Why is Jaycee walking around with her brother's clothes on?
Why is she acting the same way her brother did whose last stunt created his death?
Hasn't she learnt from this?

People are afraid of her.

Jaycee is grieving.

If anyone knows about grief, you can act in the most unexpected ways.

Her friends need to take action before its too late.

This was a very moving story. There is therapy, grief, secrets, and coming to an enlightenment of the truth.

Its a well written thought out and thought provoking read.

I thoroughly enjoyed my reading journey with this one.

*Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Fire via Net Galley for my copy*
Profile Image for Kels.
315 reviews165 followers
May 20, 2016
My feelings for this novel are so mixed.

On the one hand, I think the writing is top notch. Cori McCarthy is one heck of a talented author, and I really enjoyed her sense of humor in her sentences. There was also a lot of originality to this novel as well. Although I've read a great deal of books that have a similar storyline, this one stood out for me because it doesn't follow the overdone tropes and cliches. It was a fresh read, and that says a lot considering this is YA that we are talking about.

Now on to the negatives. I don't know... there was just a lot of things missing in this book for it to be a winner for me. A big issue I had was that it was near impossible to connect with any of the characters because they fell too far on extremes or were just flat out unlikable. Jaycee was the depressed snark. Natalie was the overcautious mom. Zach the dopey drunk. Mik the mute. And Bishop the heartbroken graffiti artist. There just wasn't much dimension to any of the characters. On top of that, they were horrible to each other. They lashed out at each other and said the cruelest things so offhandedly. Things you would never say so casually like: You made it to be a day older than your dead brother. or You better be an amazing lay. Whatttt??! And the majority of the events in this book just center on multiple misunderstanding and miscommunications between all of the characters. I just wanted to shake them so bad!!

Also, let's just admit that Bishop's character was just included as the token black guy. His chapters of narrations are simply pictures of his grafitti art but they are so sparse (I counted 4 pages). He quickly fades into the background and only pops up just enough to know that he is a part of the group.

This is another book that I'm just relieved to be done with. There were some great things here and there that were happening in it, but overall it was entirely too easy to put down.
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,988 reviews195 followers
February 4, 2016
This story of a group of people broken by the careless death of one boy will pul you in and not let go.
I was unsure about this for the first 20%. It was a sad tale of a traumatized teenage girl who watched her older brother die, lives with her crumbling family, risks her life almost daily and distances herself from any future plans. I do not like to wallow in the dark pool of pain with characters, like the loop Jaycee seemed to be stuck in. Luckily she wasn't stuck for much longer. The past she so desired came to her in the pocket of her dead brothers clothes. This little piece of paper started a journey that was filled with, truths, revelations, broken hearts and hope. By the time I got to 50% I couldn't put it down, I stayed up till 3 am to finish. I had to know, had to see if they found what they were looking for.
The characters were so different and well developed. I hated, loved, cheered and worried over them. Mik. the most mysterious selective mute character had the biggest personality and the biggest draw, his lack of words just made him more fragile. How could you not want this guy to have his dream ? Natalie the type A personality friend with some serious issues. She was the biggest puzzle, a complicated mess who appeared to have it all together. Really, there isn't a character in the book that doesn't have real life after trauma issues. The issues are realistic, believable and left me even feeling sorry for the big jerk in the story.
I loved it. This author is one definitely want to read again.

*ARC provided by the publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,154 reviews1,513 followers
February 18, 2016
Jake was a daredevil and always tempted fate with his crazy stunts. He did urban exploring, going into abandoned places and coming up with the most dangerous thing to try, climbing elevator shafts, climbing old roller coasters, climbing up on roofs. Unfortunately on the day Jake graduated from high school he was drinking and someone dared him to back flip off the playground equipment at which time he fell and snapped his neck.

Five years after Jake's death his presence is still felt by those that he left behind, especially by his younger sister Jaycee who has just graduated herself. Jaycee has never figured out how to deal with the loss of her big brother. She wears her brother's old clothes, she sleeps in his old bed and still somewhat idolizes her big brother trying to imitate his stunts and make herself still feel him in her life.

On the fifth anniversary of Jake's death, Jaycee finds herself forming friendships with an odd group that has also been touched by Jake in their own way. There's Natalie who used to be Jaycee's best friend growing up, her boyfriend Zach, his best friend Bishop and Mik who had been Jake's best friend during their childhood.

In the summer after high school and just before starting college where most teenagers need to start thinking of growing up and figuring out who they are this group of five bonds together. They tackle several adventures that their old friend had done exploring several of the abandoned places Jake had been. During this time they come to grips with who they are themselves, secrets are shared, painful memories are dealt with, they come to terms with their past and their futures.

A touching, emotional, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes heartwarming journey of these five friends all told from their own individual "voices". The perspective changes during the story to each of the five to tell their own view while the events are happening. The author was extremely creative and unique doing this as Bishops chapters are through his art, Mik's chapters are through a comic book style artwork as he has social anxiety and rarely talks but even with this done I still fell I got to know them both just as much as the other characters.

I absolutely loved the characters and watching them all grow during this transitional summer. They are all kids trying to grow up and that showed in the writing. Did everything they do make sense?No, not really, but when dealing with grief and loss there's no rule book and that really showed in the characters and their actions.

There's heartache, loss, grief, fear, violence, fractured families, fractured friendship, young love and anything that one could think of mixed into this book. One that I'd recommend checking out, full of emotion to touch a reader.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for TL .
1,819 reviews35 followers
May 20, 2016
What do I know about anything--other than how fast the world can break and how very long it takes to put all the pieces back together.

Even God can't change the past, no matter how many tears I've cried
(Not part of the book, from Charlotte Church song... that line came to me a few times while I was reading)
This was very touching and my heart did hurt for everyone multiple times, but no tears were forthcoming (this is just me, I don't cry easily at books/movies most times).

The first part of the book it was hard to connect with Jaycee, I felt for her but she did get on my nerves some. As the book went one though, she slipped under my skin and happily stayed there.

This is a heartfelt book about grief, friendship, growing up, and moving on. Each character is unsure of things and dealing with it in their own way. Maybe not the best way in some cases, but it is what they know to do... not sure how do to anything else.

There's some humor in this as well and a kind of honesty in the writing that makes it very compelling and hard to put down. I don't remember when exactly it sucked me in so completely but once it did, it had me :).

Jaycee and Natalie's honesty were two sides of the same coin in a way,even if they couldn't see it.
Brutal refreshing, and sometimes tactless.. but not always unfeeling (though in once circumstance, I did step back and say "Whoah... okay, THAT was uncalled for."). Both think they value honesty, but as Jaycee said:

"Hell on fire. Truth was supposed to work. It was supposed to be hard and fast and freeing, but for the first time in my life, I wondered if telling the truth could make you a liar. "

I thought the graphic-novel-like panels for Mik were a very creative way to tell his point of view. Surprisingly more effective than if we had gotten just his words, a quiet intensity to it all.

There are secrets hidden from others in here but it never felt prolonged unnecessarily, I could understand why in each cases but was still glad for them when they finally came clean. In one case, it wasn't what you thought it was, but you can understand it even if you don't agree with the person in question.

Jaycee learns and realizes some stuff about her brother and it is freeing in a way for her. I won't say more than that but it was one of the more powerful moments (for me at least).

A beautiful book, would recommend !
Profile Image for Elaine.
3,354 reviews103 followers
February 24, 2016
The death of a sibling and close friend is difficult at the best of times, but when it is a teen who was celebrating his graduation with friends, playing around and doing a dare in front of them, it has a dramatic impact on all of them and their relationships. Jake died whilst fooling around and doing a stunt he'd completed successfully hundreds of times before. Since then his sister, Jaycee, has been trying to recreate his daredevil stunts without any real consideration for keeping herself safe. It is five years since he died, she has just graduated and this story emotively portrays the affect Jake's fatal accident had on those he left behind.

The story is portrayed from multiple points of view and includes graphic/comic style chapters as well as text. It is only as these characters start to reveal how they are coping with their grief that they can help each other heal and move on. It is a truly engaging, highly emotional portrayal of grief, a search for personal identity, filled with truths that are scarily heartbreaking but demonstrating that only by the truths being revealed do all concerned have any chance of meaningful relationships and a future to look forward to rather than a past to keep re-examining.

This is a very moving story, empathetically portrayed making it easy to relate to the characters and understand their actions and reactions. It is a story of growth and maturity, learning to live now and for the future rather than for events in the past. It is a chance for true friendships to overcome grief and for the past and departed to be remembered as they were rather than as idealised images. This is a superbly written by a very talented author who engages the reader, taking them into the scenarios and immersing them in this emotive story.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for providing an ARC of this novel for me to read in exchange for this, my honest review.
Profile Image for Abbie.
1,976 reviews582 followers
January 15, 2016
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

The characters in this weren't bad, but I didn't warm to them enough to like them.

The pacing was a bit slow for me in this, so it dragged in areas, and I felt quite bored at times because of it. It was an okay read overall though.
Profile Image for Bee.
815 reviews209 followers
June 1, 2016
Quite The Novel Idea ~ Words from the Clouds

4.5 stars

I'm going to be honest right off the bat here. I almost skipped this book. For reasons I don't really know. My February TBR was so long and so I scratched some books and this was one of them. But then I decided to pick it up anyway, because something told me it'd be worth it. And you know what? It was. Because this book is so. freaking. good.

You Were Here is about Jaycee. Her brother died right before her eyes doing a crazy stunt because that's what he did. He was a daredevil. Each year on the anniversary of his dead, Jaycee breaks into his favorite hideout, the ruins of an insane asylum. This year three classmates join her and Jake's former friend Mik, each with their own problems. And then Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and dares. Jaycee vows to complete the dares as a tribute to her brother, along with her eccentric group of friends who challenge her to reveal the parts of her she'd buried with her brother.

This book has 5 POV's. But before you worry about that, only 3 of them are normal narration. One of the POV's is always just one page. That's Bishop's. His POV is always the artwork he leaves on the places they go. Another one is Mik's, whose chapters are told through comic/graphic novel style. Both are insanely cool and worked so well with the characters they represented. Also, major points for having so much artwork in a book that doesn't slow my ereader at all. Usually the whole thing freezes and flips out but not with this book, so yay! I'd tell you to read this book solely for the artwork, but luckily there's more to love than just that.

Before I go over the things I love, I need to explain why I didn't give it 5 stars. And it's really minor things to me and seeing as how it still gets 4.5 stars, you should focus on that. But I'm honest and I need to tell you the small things that bugged me. The first one is that sometimes characters changed a bit too fast. They made a complete 180 just like that and it took me a minute to catch up. Probably because my brain doesn't work that fast. The second thing is that there's one thing that happens that adds a bit more drama to the book and it didn't feel like it needed to happen. But it didn't bother me as much as most other unnecessary drama in other books does, so there's that.

What I did love was the writing. It's so real. These kids have all just graduated high school and the author doesn't shy away from the fact that they curse and have sex. It's not full of those things, not at all. But it's there and it's normal. Because that's how young people are. My favorite parts of the book were always the interactions between the characters. They worked so well together and I loved how natural it all seemed. Was this emotional? Yes, definitely. Did I cry? No. But to be honest, I don't cry easily with books. I'm a major crybaby for all other things, but not books. I still read this in one sitting and finished around 3am, so that should tell you enough, right?

Were this book really shined for me were its characters, who are the most important of any story in my eyes. But these five people snuck up on me. Because once I started reading this book, I was enjoying it. But then I hit the 20% mark and I noticed these people had already set their claws into my heart. I was invested in their story and I found myself loving all of them even when they're so different from who I am. We don't know very much about Mik or Bishop, but we know enough to get invested in their lives and care about them. Zach seems like a simple guy, but there's so much more to him. Natalie comes across as a strict know-it-all at first, but there's so much more to her and she grows a lot in this book. Everyone does. Jaycee the most of all. She did annoy me at times, but that's only because I've never been through what she did. If I had, I'd probably be worse than her.

There's also romance, yes, and it was very well handled and actually pretty sweet. It could've gone wrong in a book like this very easily, but it didn't. And I'm very happy about that because I shipped these two like crazy right from the start. I absolutely adored all of these characters, I really did. And I want to hug them and tell them I love them and that everything will be okay. I want them to be happy. This makes me wonder if the author's other books have great characters like these as well. I should read them and find out.

You Were Here is a touching and emotional rollercoaster ride that uses amazing artwork to help tell the story. If you're a fan of YA Contemporary, this one should definitely be on your list for this year.

Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,138 reviews1,009 followers
February 22, 2017
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight
GAH, what even do I say here? This will absolutely end up being one of my favorites of 2016- and all time. I am just going to throw out stuff that I loved because it was  all love.

The characters and their development throughout the book was incredible. Jaycee is clearly in need of some development, because she cannot move on at all from her brother's untimely death. But what you don't realize at first is how much growing all the characters have to do, and the way the author writes their growth is just gorgeous.
There are five POVs- but they aren't at all overwhelming. In fact, two aren't even traditionally written. Mik's are in graphic novel format, and I will say that this is the first time I have ever really understood the appeal of the graphic component- it was done flawlessly; and Bishop's is just his own little graffiti/art. It really breaks things up, in the best possible way.
The. Ship. If you don't ship this ship... I don't know what to tell you. Because this has to be one of my new OTPs. That's all I will say about that.
The friendships and relationships are messy and complicated and ever-evolving. You know, just like real ones. It all felt so honest and messy and wonderfully authentic. The characters all had relationships with each other, and their families, and they were just so on point. This resonated with me so much:
"Zach could picture the next five years like they were a movie he was being forced to watch. His mother would end up needling him until he studied something she approved of; his father would hound him into a job with security."

The emotional range is just phenomenal. I cried, of course, I laughed, I was angry, I swooned, I nodded in agreement with characters' observations- it was just a perfect combination of all the feels. Here's a moment that made me chuckle:
""'Did you go to school with us?' Zach asked Mik. 'You look like... like I know you.'
'You're probably thinking of Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club.' Natalie said."

It was actually acknowledged that Jake (Jaycee's brother) had plenty of flaws.  So often in a book where a character is grieving, everyone makes the deceased person out to be some kind of perfect superhuman. That wasn't Jake, and no one is pretending it was. He was not all good nor all bad, just like everyone else. And even when Jaycee tried to pretend that he was larger than life, she knew the truth:
"Jake wasn't here, so he couldn't be disappointing. Couldn't let me down like everyone else. He got a free pass. Apparently, dying was the easiest way to turn into a peach."

It's the kind of book that I could read over and over. It was just that good. It's in my Amazon cart as I type.

Bottom Line: Look, I could absolutely flail about this book until the end of time,  or , I could just throw it at you and insist that you read it. I choose the latter.
**Quotes taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change.
*Copy provided by publisher for review.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,001 reviews35.9k followers
January 25, 2016
"I chuckled at the memory, and Natalie looked at me like I was a Chihuahua
humping her ankle".

Author, Cori McCarthy had many funny 'doozer' moments as the sentence above-- enjoyable teenage slang and sarcasm, and graphic comics, in this story which dealt with with heavy issues:
relationships conflicts,
selective mutism,
family challenges,
sibling rivalry,
Serious worry,
the last summer between High School and College years...(the 'leap-jump-growth-year' in a young person's life)

The things that work best about this novel is that each of the 5 teenagers has a unique
voice--a unique quality--a unique predicament. Plus, CORY McCARTHY...wrote a
*unique-stylistic* novel. Like a kid...I couldn't wait to see what graphics were coming
next with this storytelling. Kudos to the illustrator! MILK & COOKIES ...would go nicely with this novel! ( for comfort when life's a struggle, and for celebration of teenagers everywhere). *A SUMMER TO REMEMBER! ....( the one where you grew up)

Real emotions are felt...not all the characters are likable all the time...( but are teenagers ever?)...
Wonderful satisfying heartfelt ending!
3.5 rating

Thank You Sourcebooks, Netgalley, and Cori McCarthy.
Profile Image for Tayler Steele.
143 reviews
March 29, 2018
**Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.**

You Were Here was a rollercoaster of emotions. This novel will take you down, bring you back up again, and spin you around a few times before finally slowing to a stop that is both satisfying but makes you eager to ride again.

When the ride started and we began inching up the first hill, I was a little unsure. The main character, Jaycee, was hard to relate to (I mean, even her "friends" struggled to break through her extremely tough exterior) and her biting sarcasm was a weird mix of funny and off-putting. However, the higher the climb escalated, the more I felt a bond with her character. Considering everything she'd been through, her characterization made total sense and opened up an interesting perspective on how people handle grief. Really, several characters became case studies for the different ways people cope - Jaycee's parents, Natalie, Mik, and even Tyler. The powerful message that the novel left with me was how death has a ripple effect that expands more widely than we think, and those ripples create different reactions in all of us.

This novel had a very "Breakfast Club" feel to me, which was excellent for me because I adore that movie. The group was so vastly different from each other, but they all found common ground and came to better understandings about each other and themselves. I really enjoyed that aspect of the novel; it had a unique way of being a good story on the surface, but having a whole lot of depth underneath to explore. It was also a coming-of-age novel that was done extremely well in that regard. Each character underwent a huge transformation that basically took them from teenager to young adult (yes, that sounds totally corny but it's true).

My favorite character in the whole novel was, of course, Ryan Mikivikious. That boy was an absolute dream-boat, personality wise. I feel like most girls reading this will probably fall for Mik. In that sense, he's a little too perfect, but hey, I'm not complaining.

This was a wonderful YA read that broke the pattern of YA in some ways but stayed true to the course in other ways. The topic of a character dealing with someone's death and the love story that came out of it wasn't unfamiliar, but I think the characters themselves, especially Jaycee and Mik, were original and refreshing. I can definitely see this book being a hit with YA fans and I look forward to hopefully reading more of Cori McCarthy's work.
Profile Image for Holly .
1,358 reviews291 followers
February 14, 2017
*eARC kindly provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley*

My Review!
I’m always, in some way, able to relate to a main character. It could be small or big, but I try to find something of myself in them, so that their story matters more than if I was reading without feelings. But very rarely, can I relate to a character SO well that it’s as if the author was writing about ME. That’s who Jaycee was to me, an MC straight out of my own head and heart, one that does unlikable shit and says mean things to the ones she loves, but one who feels real and authentic BECAUSE she’s not picture-perfect. And who could blame her? She lost her brother five years ago, and she’s still grieving for him (as I have brothers, it made me acutely aware of how bad it would be if either of them died). She’s angry. She doesn’t have respect for living, so she continues testing herself, teasing out her limits, by putting herself in dangerous situations. Even the exact situation that ended up killing her brother. Her grief is SO great that she can’t see anything else in front of her, even Jake’s best friend, who watches after her because no one else is doing it. (And because he LOOOOOVES her, but we’ll get to that a bit later). And her grief is the only thing she feels keeping her together.

I get it. I SO get it, in fact, that I’m living it still. Jaycee is probably one of THE most unlikable characters I’ve read in a story, but I didn’t care. Even when her actions and her words pissed me off, or made me want to slap her and shout OPEN YOUR EYES, even when she was reckless and endangered her life for a thrill and something that makes her feel closer to her brother, I loved her. The book isn’t in her POV only, though. And while I wasn’t a HUGE fan of that, I loved how we got to see more sides of Jaycee through the other characters. We got to see the parts of herself that are still THERE, deep down underneath all of that grief. The parts of herself she thinks she needs to hide because it would destroy her if she let herself FEEL his death. Those feelings would frankly kick her ass, and she doesn’t want that. So she hides behind sarcasm and mean words, daredevil stunts that her brother did before one of them promptly ended his life. Jaycee is stoic, quiet when she wants to be, and SO angry. It’s a dangerous combination when you can’t be sure what she’s going to do or say. But through her trying to relive Jake’s life, and with the help of some unlikely friends, Jaycee starts to live again. And when she finally GETS it, it’s a beautiful moment, because she’s worked so hard to get there. But while the grief is still there, Jaycee also sees what could lay ahead in her future, if she stops living in the past.

Her relationship with Mik was definitely the one that pushed her the most, even though it was so QUIET. Mik is a selective mute, which means he only talks to those he wants to, and it results from social anxiety as well (thank you, Dr. Natalie). Though their romance is barely there, you can FEEL it. In the spaces where no words are spoken, in the shared history between the two of them, in the comic book-like chapters in Mik’s POV. He’s unconditionally supportive and understanding, but he also pushes her to see beyond herself and her grief. He is the most special of book boys I’ve read in awhile. He is not only just adorably awkward, but he’s super sweet and just THERE for Jaycee, even when she tries to push him away (which she does all of the time). He just. I think in some way, a lot of him hanging out with her had been because of Jake. He’d wanted to help her, be there for her, even if he didn’t talk. He’d wanted to be her sounding board, and I think he felt guilty too, because he was the one who had dared Jake to jump off of the swing. But at some point, that became less like an older brother move and more like a guy in love. He would always let her make the moves; he’d never push her, but he also didn’t take her shit. He challenged her to open up and let go. He made her want to start living again. I want more book boys like Mik. Ones who feel realistic. Ones who AREN’T confident and who stumble over words when talking with the girl they love. Ones who are unquestionably good guys who make you wish they were real.

I’ve already mentioned the other POVs (which were in 3rd person; J’s were in 1st), and while I did like the other three characters too, I didn’t REALLY care for their voices. I did love seeing Jaycee, and Jaycee and Mik, through their eyes, but that was about it. I wasn’t a huge fan of Natalie, even though I could understand where she was coming from with everything. This girl is always so worried about being perfect that she doesn’t allow herself room to make mistakes and grow. She feels stifled and suffocated, by her parents, her boyfriend, her upcoming move to New York and college. So she doesn’t always do nice things, and it’s weird because her character is almost more unlikable than Jaycee. It was harder for me to sympathize, honestly, especially after getting to know Zach through his POV. He’s a guy who always feels like he needs to compensate for everything, that he’s not good enough as he is. He’s been through a lot as a kid, and I WISH that’d been given more light. He was less developed than I would have liked, given how much he was actually going through. But I did love that he grew a bit by the end, that he became less the scared and small guy and took leaps of faith. And he and Natalie finally figured out their shit (which UGH YES FINALLY). There was also Bishop, but his chapters were just pieces of artwork (which were seriously GORGEOUS THO). However, he had a lot less page time, and he didn’t even have a voice. So it was hard to feel like I knew him. Still. I liked the whole gang together, and their scenes had great banter.

This was one of the truest portrayals of grief I’ve read in books, and maybe I’m saying that because I can totally relate, and others wouldn’t be able to. But whatever the case, this is the closest a book has ever come to understanding loss and grief for me. I would rather not get too personal, but let’s just say, Jaycee and I aren’t so different in how we choose to grieve. And it’s definitely not the best way, but, I love that Jaycee was able to start to come to terms with her brother’s death and the way it had made her live the last five years. She’s finally starting to see beyond herself, enjoy life more, not take those risks just because her brother did (actually kinda guessing on this, since her last thrill WAS a Jake thing). But I can imagine she’s ready to try, ready to put the past behind her. She’s ready to let her family back in, talk to her father, move on and stop wearing Jake’s clothes and living in his bedroom. This was just a fantastic grief story, about how the death of a loved one can rock you to your core, turn your life inside out. How it can stop you from wanting to live. But it was also one of moving on, and doing so with good intentions. It was beautiful to watch unfold. You Were Here was, simply, amazing. It had some of the best voices I’ve ever read in YA books, and one of the shippiest ships you could ever ship.

Rating: 4.5 Paw Prints!
Profile Image for Fatima.
257 reviews17 followers
February 3, 2016
[4.5 stars]

**Thank you Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review below.**

This book had me smiling goofily at 5 in the morning. Honestly, it was that good. I don't even know why I've put it off for so long, maybe because I was expecting a cheesy YA contemporary but instead got a touching story about a bunch of misfit teenagers who were just trying to find themselves. The story is told through the alternating POVs of Jaycee -- the daredevil, Natalie -- her uptight ex-best friend, Bishop -- a heartbroken artist, Zach -- a slacker with so much going on underneath, and Mik -- a selective mute who challenges Jaycee. Bishop's POV is told through graffitied poetry and Mik's is told through a series of graphic panels. Now, I know this all sounds very confusing, but somehow the story always manages to shift from the prose to the graffiti to the comic panels very seamlessly. All these teenagers have been affected, either directly or indirectly, by Jake's death -- especially Jaycee, his sister.

"We are all his collateral damage.”

I loved Jaycee from the very first page. Her brutal honesty and no-bs, daredevil attitude was extremely compelling; I loved it! Her attitude makes her likable and unlikable at the same time - she's a controversial and dimensional character. She acts crazy half the time, and she's quirky and witty with a very morbid sense of humor. I can honestly say I've never met another character like her. I usually call some characters unique in my reviews, but Jaycee is the epitome of uniqueness. Her personality most probably stems from seeing her brother snap his neck and die before her eyes; the girl's obviously scarred.

Someone else who was definitely scarred by Jake's death is Natalie, or Nat, Jaycee's ex-best friend. Nat witnessed his death, too, but instead of being there for her friend, she ran home and stopped talking to Jaycee, which obviously hurt her. Nat was uptight and I didn't like her at first, but she grew on me as the story progressed. We get to see more of her through her POV and how she's still haunted by Jake's death and suffers panic attacks. I really grew to admire her because she never told anyone and kept everything to herself, letting everyone believe that she was just an uptight bitch. Her relationship with Zach was adorable and I loved their dynamic both romantically and platonically.

Zach has so much going beneath the surface. Everyone thought that he was just a slacker who didn't want to grow up but his POV contradicted that. He was everything I wanted in a character. Half the time, I just wanted to hug him and tell him that everything'll be okay. I honestly can't find the words to describe his character without spoiling things so I'm just going to- *squishes*.

There is one character who I don't 100% adore -- Bishop. Don't get me wrong, I like him but he just seemed ... distant, compared to the others. I didn't understand his heartbreak over Marrakesh so maybe that was the problem, or he was just meant to be portrayed that way. Bishop is obviously a very passionate character and he portrays that in his art. I found the graffiti and word art poetry to be beautiful, moving, and emotional. It's like Bishop pours out his feelings into the art and I admire that about him very much. The one thing that irked me was when he kept pushing Natalie to tell Zach what happened that night. The way he did it just didn't sit very well with me.

Last but not least, Mik -- which is short for Ryan Mikivikious. Mik is a selective mute and he used to be Jack's childhood best friend. I can't say he's my favorite character because I honestly love all of them, but he is definitely the closest. The way his POV was told, through graphic novel panels, was amazing. I loved the art and how the graphics managed to accurately portray the atmosphere and what was going on. I always looked forward to his POV. His character was dimensional in every way & aspect, which I absolutely loved. What frustrated me was how long it took for him to get with Jaycee. The sexual tension was unbelievable! I'm glad it turned out to be totally worth it in the end.

Maybe none of us knew how to grow up.

The different POVs offered massive insight into all of the characters. They all hid things beneath their exterior; I loved how they all helped and challenged each other to find themselves at the end. They were more than a bunch of misfit teenagers, they were a bunch of kids who didn't quite know how to grow up. The way I interpret this story, for every single place on Jack's map that they travelled to, they found a piece of themselves that they buried in the past. I don't mean to be profound, it's just a very moving story. Also, kudos to the diverse characters!

In short, You Were Here features the most dimensional & diverse set of characters, along with intriguing storytelling complemented by beautiful prose and art. It is sure to be an unforgettable read! Keep your eyes peeled for its release on March 1, 2016!

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Profile Image for Tonya Henderson.
713 reviews132 followers
March 10, 2016
See this review AND enter to win a copy on my blog, Lilybloombooks

I knew once I saw You Were Here - it would be something I loved. But I didn't expect to be blown away by its honesty & amazing characters that pulled on the heart-strings.

You Were Here is told from the POV of all five characters, Jaycee, Natalie, Zach, Bishop and Mik. What makes it unique was the formatting. It's blend of first person, third person, art (like graffiti) and a graphic novel. It was brilliant for many reasons - but I have to point out how flawless it all flowed. A lot of times with multiple POVs, they can blend together; never really connecting with any of the characters. So not only did the unique formatting help with that, Cori writes ALL of her characters with unique voices. It was just, brilliant.

You Were Here touches on many heavy and emotion subjects. Death. Addiction. Grief. Heartbreak. Each character is flawed; dealing with their own issues when they all come together on the anniversary of Jake's death. It was fascinating how their lives intertwined, and although the summer spent together was not the easiest for them all, the support and friendship helped each one heal in their own way, and move on.

Of all the characters, Jaycee was my favorite. She is still grieving for her brother Jake, and makes it her mission to complete the dares he did before his death. Her brute honesty made for some harsh realities for some of the characters, but I loved it about her. She tells it like it is. Quite honestly, she was broken. She hadn't been living since her brother's death and seeing her break out of that grief, face her fears was hard at times. Add in her conflicting feelings with Mik, and this girl was a mess.

Mik was one of Jake's friends from before. There are some secrets revolving around him and the night Jake died, and it was all hard for Jaycee to cope with. He's shy, even being a select mute, and because of his feelings for Jaycee, didn't talk to HER much. Which in turn frustrated her. Anyway, it was hard for Jaycee to see the man Mik had become, not just he boy he was, and it seemed at every turn she was hurting him. Some of it, intentional because she didn't understand her feelings for him and didn't know HOW to handle it. In any case, I adored them and ship it! But Mik's constant support, patience and love for her just.. makes me happy!

Natalie and Zach are another hot mess. Natalie was Jaycee's best friend before Jake's death and Zach is her on again off again boyfriend. These two are the perfect examples of co-dependency. Natalie has this... "I am better than you" attitude and her condescending remarks frustrated me on many levels. She too, is holding secrets of her own and we don't really get WHY she pushed Jaycee away and how Jake's death affected her. Zach has family issues that we get an up close look at, and his fears of being left behind and alone drive his him to his drinking, and his dependency on Natalie. You can tell they DO love each other, but man. Bishop was a more behind the scenes character to me. He is dealing with heartbreak over a girl and is preparing to leave for college over the summer but was somehow always SEPARATE in my mind. Not saying he doesn't play a part - because he does - but not has hard and heavy as the others.

Again, these characters are FLAWED.

I could go on and on about these characters, especially Jaycee and Mik. Cori did an amazing job handling the multiple heavy subjects. The building and rekindling of friendships has a HUGE impact on all of us, and she brings that beautiful journey to life with these characters. It's an emotional, powerful book that I recommend to everyone.

I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Morgan.
1,681 reviews74 followers
December 4, 2015
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Have you ever read a book that is written well, BUT you pretty much want to throttle all of the characters inside of it?

This is pretty much one of those books.

It deals a lot with grief and the grieving process -- different for everyone and by situation too.

But I couldn't quite get that connection with the characters and that sort of distanced me from the book too.

I'm finding it difficult to rate because of the conflicts between the writing and the characters who are the focus of it. My rating reflects the fact that I didn't connect/wasn't engaged by it, but that isn't through fault of the writing.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,161 reviews80 followers
January 9, 2018
Two things, before I dive into the meat of this review. One, this is the first YA Contemporary book that I've read in about a year so I'm coming into this with fresh eyes. It's entirely possible that has also biased me to love this book, so let's get that out of the way before anything else. Two, although I was given a copy of this to review back in 2016, it has taken me this long to get to it. I actually borrowed it from the library to read, and I'm not sorry in the least. Now that you know where I'm coming from with this review, let's get started.

I love Jaycee, but I also hate Jaycee. I'll start right there, because that's the kind of book that You Were Here really is. I love Jaycee because she's a broken protagonist who is falling into a pit of grief and can't figure out how to claw her way out. She's raw, brutally honest, and walled off into her own safe place. I love her because she's real. On the flip side, that's also why I hate Jaycee. She reminds me of how easy it is to fall into that pit, how easy it is to push everyone away and become a flicker of your former self, and how hard it really is to let that all go an come back to the light. It was Jaycee, and her profound loss, that really made this book hit home for me. Cori McCarthy perfectly crafted a human being with real flaws, and I soaked that in and reveled in it.

In fact, every character in this book has their own set of flaws and short comings. That's what made me feel so strongly for them. McCarthy even manages to craft a character with social anxiety, who is selectively mute, and still bring him to life on the pages. His chapters, told in graphic novel format, were actually some of my favorites. I loved being pulled in to his mind, and seeing things from his point of view. It's not easy to have a book narrated by multiple characters that isn't confusing at times. McCarthy hits that out of the park though. Every character is so rich, and well formed, that it's not hard at all to skip from the mind of Zach, to Jaycee and back again. It's normal, and wonderful.

What really impressed me, more than anything, was how easy to read this book was. It deals with some tough subjects, unabashedly so, but it does it in a way that makes you love the characters and want to be wrapped up in their lives. I found a part of myself in every one of them, and it made this a really personal and amazing read for me. Highly recommended! Just be prepared to get a bit teary eyed.
Profile Image for Jessica .
841 reviews155 followers
June 28, 2016
4.5/5 stars

This book completely took me by surprise and it is one that I cannot recommend enough! From the flawed characters, to a shipworthy romance, and unexpected formatting that knocked my socks off, I was hooked from the beginning.

I did not expect multiple POVs, but I have to say it really worked. I liked getting to know all of the characters and the way McCarthy handled two character's POVs in particular, was pretty genius. As I said, the characters are flawed. They are all dealing with their own issues, which I really liked because it was so realistic at their age. Some issues are heavier than others, but they ultimately all find themselves banding together to follow Jaycee's daredevil dead brother's footprints across the state.

I'll start with Jaycee. I wasn't sure if I was going to like her initially because she's so abrasive and isn't afraid to speak her mind, even at the risk of hurting others. However, my heart absolutely ached for her. It has been five years since her brother's death and she isn't living. I feel like she's stuck in time and to see her still so shattered and broken really hurt. She doesn't realize that her pain is actually affecting those around her. There is this huge chasm between her and her best friend, Natalie, and she makes her brother's childhood best friend feel invisible because she doesn't really see HIM for who he is. Her self destructive nature really hurts them and she is in so deep that she can't see beyond her grief. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a sibling, and everyone has their own way of coping, but Jaycee isn't. She wears her brother's clothes. She lives in his room. She is even starting to act like him. It's absolutely heartbreaking.

Her relationship with Mik was complicated too. She has always had a crush on him, but after Jake died, she just couldn't seem to look beyond the boy from the past. She doesn't see the guy he is now and that hurts him because he has strong feelings for her. She pushes him away when he gets too close, because she doesn't know how to deal with her feelings for him. They have been recently connected by her brother's death, so it's pretty awkward for her to try and see him in a new light. I shipped these two so hard, even as frustrated as I could be with Jaycee for how she could be with him.

Natalie's character was probably my least favorite. She was hard to warm up to because of her superior attitude. She is ready to leave her current life behind and start new. She acts much older than she is and is pretty condescending. I hated how she treated her boyfriend Zach and she really doesn't deserve him, especially after something she did. Jake's death has affected her more than we know and because of that she has pushed Jaycee away, which felt like the ultimate betrayal to Jaycee. These two are constantly at odds during the book, but their screwed up friendship kind of works.

Zach is too dependent on Natalie and he just lets her belittle him and make him feel like crap. He doesn't stand up to her because he doesn't want to be alone. He clings to the scraps Natalie throws at him, because there are those times when things are great and they actually get one another. Those moments are few and far between though. Natalie isn't Zach's only issue. Zach's family is pretty messed up and once Natalie and Bishop go off to school, he really won't have anyone left. I hate that he felt left behind but his reasons for staying are so noble that it made me choke up a bit.

There isn't too much to say about Bishop, other than he is dealing with heartbreak over a girl leaving him and heading back across the pond. He is loyal to Zach, although he has been trying to distance himself from him, so that when he leaves it won't be such a blow.

I just can't do this book justice. These characters are all broken in their own way and even though the way they came together was unexpected, I liked that they really formed this tight knit group, even despite the shit they go through. I like that they follow Jake's map of places he's been to and the dares he's left behind because it gives them purpose and they discover so much about themselves and each other because of it. Friendship isn't always pretty- it can be messy, but true friends will be there for you no matter what and I really felt that in this book. Definitely pick this one up. It's one that won't be leaving my mind any time soon.

*Received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
Profile Image for Melissa.
210 reviews
January 31, 2016
I absolutely loved this book. It kept me glued to the page because I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. This book was hauntingly intense, and while it was painful to read at times, it was also hopeful and heartwarming. The writing was incredible, the art poetry fantastic and the graphic panels added so much to this story. I was left me feeling emotionally drained in the best kind of way - an absolute emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.

You Were Here is a story told from five different viewpoints. The storyline follows Jaycee, who is on a quest to re-create her daredevil brother, Jake's stunts... including the one who killed him. A band of misfit friends accompany her on this quest as they explore the eerie urban ruins and retrace the steps of a boy long gone.

Jaycee was such a hard character to read. Her grief was palpable, and almost overwhelming. She is trying desperately to hold on to the memory of her brother because she feels like he is slipping away. Additionally, she is struggling with anger towards Natalie - her former best friend who abandoned with her.

Natalie was the character I like the least. She just felt uncomfortable in her own skin, and wasn't happy with the choices she made. She is "type A" and felt cold to me. She harbors a lot of guilt for her relationship with Jaycee, her relationship with her boyfriend and all the mistakes that she's made. At the end of the story I found myself liking her more once I understood her better.

Zach is Natalie's boyfriend, and enjoyed reading his point of view. He is dependent on Natalie and his best friend, Bishop in a lot of ways, but they are both leaving for college at the end of summer. His childhood was hard, and his relationship with his family is strained (with the exception of his little sister). He uses alcohol to cope. I thought he was just a really wonderful guy who was dealt a shitty hand. He was also hilarious and had some many fantastic one liners.

Bishop is Zach's best friend and is a heartbroken artist. His point of view is told through art poetry and I LOVED it. I think we all can relate to his heartbreak, and the feelings he evokes through art.

Mik was Jake's best friend and is a selective mute. He was a little mysterious and has been in love with Jaycee for years. His point of view is told through graphic panels and was the highlight of the book for me. He was such a fantastic character... loyal and good. The romance element was such a wonderful part of the story.

This story was just so interesting to me. We have all these characters who are struggling in their lives, and we get to see them change over the course of the summer. It wasn't a pretty story, but it felt realistic and compelling. I am looking forward to reading more from Cori McCarthy.

I was provide a free copy from the publisher, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review


Here I gooooooo....

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Profile Image for Maria.
621 reviews100 followers
March 11, 2016
‘“Do you guys know what a Gordian knot is?” Bishop asked. “Some people think that it represents time. A tangle of sorts, but basically, it implies that anything that happened is still happening. That the past is never gone. The future already exists. Spirals upon spirals.” He cleared his throat. “So really, everyone who was ever here is still here. In a sense.”’

Grief is such a complicated topic to write about. There are as many ways of grieving as there are people. It’s awfully easy to reduce it to one single shade of grey and hurt whoever we were trying to comfort in the first place. Also, grief can be a lonely path. We make it so. We don’t want anyone else to take the fall with us, for us. Sometimes, though, while we are falling, we open our eyes and realize we were never alone in the first place. That said, I believe Cory McCarthy did quite a brilliant job with You Were Here.

Even though Jaycee is indeed the main character, this book is definitely not just about her. She was here, yes, but she was not alone.

You Were Here is a novel about a group of young people that are brought together by the pain of losing someone. A brother, a parent, a friend, a lover… and, at the end of the day, themselves. They are all trying to cope with the loss in their own way, some by choosing not to cope at all.
“I guess that makes sense. When I saw my brother die, my whole perspective on things changed. Life has borders all over the place. I like looking for them. Feeling them out. It gets you close to the others side.”

You Were Here tells the beautiful and heart wrenching story of the journey from the fall to the landing on both feet, from the darkness of the closed eyes to the opening and acknowledgment of others.
“It was an unspoken rule, iron law in my family; you never left without saying I love you, because what if you didn’t come back?”

Wonderfully written, visually stunning and with characters so real their pain is palpable, You Were Here is a roller coaster that will make you feel everything. Rage, love, disappointment, devotion, sadness, joy… it’s an emotional marathon that will leave you breathless. I dare you to run it.

If you enjoyed All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Paper Towns by John Green and/or I Was Here by Gayle Forman, I most definitely recommend you reading this book. Make some space on your shelf of favourites, You Were Here is out and deserves some.

ARC provided by SOURCEBOOKS Fire via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Yzabel Ginsberg.
Author 3 books102 followers
April 4, 2016
[I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

An OK read, but one that ultimately didn't leave much of an impression on me.

It seemd interesting at first—although, as usual in such cases, I don't really see the point of having a first person narrative for one character, and a third person one for the others. Including comics pages for one of the characters was a nice idea, as it enhanced how the guy very seldom talks, and the “silence” of the panels, combined with the black and white pictures, felt appropriate enough. I was less convinced by Bishop's chapters: I liked seeing him through his art only... but it was way too centered on his ex-girlfriend, and since I didn't care much about her, it didn't do much for me.

Unfortunately, while the premise is what drove me to request this book, I soon came to realise that didn't care a lot about any of the characters. Jayce was grieving in an intense way, keeping people at a distance by hiding behind “truth”. Natalie was bit of a pushover, with a controlling family that made her trying to control everything in turn, and secretly wanting to be someone else, to the point of “running away” by going to college—and failing to change because she planned her new life up to the clothes she'd wear, and on which days she'd wear them. Mik: OK at first, however once his selective muteness was explained, it felt that he got over it too easily. Zach: got better towards the end (his circumstances are actually rather sad), but very annoying in a “silly jock with a bottle problem” in the beginning. Bishop: too much moping about Marrakesh.

And I guess that's what didn't work in my opinion: too much drama and angst, too much of an emo streak, at the expense of real character development. Also, I guess I was hoping for more urban exploring, more strange places where Jaycee would've been trying to feel the fading presence of her brother (the asylum was definitely creepy, for starters).

It wasn't totally bad... It just didn't strike me in any way, except for a few moments when a character or other finally developed somewhat, and some more eye-rolling when it became too drama-laden.
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