Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “We Were Here” as Want to Read:
We Were Here
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

We Were Here

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,733 ratings  ·  520 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 homesaid 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 cant even look at him in the face. Any home besides his
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Delacorte Press (first published October 5th 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about We Were Here, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,733 ratings  ·  520 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of We Were Here
Brigid ✩
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
Feb 04, 2016 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
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Yo, this book it is really a journey man.

A journey to acceptance and self-recognition.

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

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

This book is about people who do bad stuff. About guilt. About self-punishment, bitterness. About losing hope, and faith
Phoenix Rises
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 ...more
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
Reviewed for work, but this review reflects my personal, not professional opinion, of this book. We Were Here is the journal of Miguel Castenada, who has been sent to live in a group home for something terrible that he did -- something so terrible he can't even think about it, let alone talk about what happened with anyone else. (Of course, any reader who has read a few "troubled teen" books will be able to pretty much figure out what happened after reading less than 30 pages of this book). At ...more
Sarah Donovan
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
For upper middle and high school readers, especially boys. It's about regret, accidents, forgiveness, friendship, acceptance, remembering, resilience. The story is the journey of three boys who escaped a group home but find their own path into the past to heal. I was a little put off by De La Pena's treatment/characterization of the black character, but I loved the bromance that developed among the three teen characters.
Beth Honeycutt
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I feel like I'm late to the party for this book. Pretty intense but worth the read.
Kim Tomsic
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-read
In author Matt de la Peña's young adult book, WE WERE HERE, three troubled teens believe their crimes and the cost of their damage leave them with nothing left to lose. The boys, Miguel, Rondell and Mong, begin their relationship with spit and fists flying. But somehow this group of teens form an unlikely team and escape their group home to make a daring dash to Mexico. Along their journey of pain, humor, rejection, adventure, love and brutality they find friendship as well as some redeeming ...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
Mariah Allie
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think this was an awesome book. The details really made me interested in reading more and more. I always wanted to read this book. It was about a boy named Miguel who got sent to Juvy for doing a "really bad thing" which tore his family apart and made his mother hate him. Eventually his mother sent him to a group home for "rehab" and to think about what he did. At that group home he met some people for who he spent most of his time with there before he snuck out. Something else I really ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is both gripping and disturbing in a way. It reveals the characters and details about them slowly, but this just makes you want to read the book even more, and see what happens. Matt de la Peña is a tremendous author, and I am still learning about his writing style. He likes to hide details about characters in small or unimportant moments. The story is an exciting journey, and you need to pay attention to some moments, or even big moments can hide some important little things that can ...more
Nico L.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing!!!! I read this book in class, it has a really good plot, and mixed with Matt de la Peña's writing techniques, it makes for an incredible book. I love how it's slow paced and fast paced at once. I'm not going to spoil anything, but Matt de la Peña does a really good job at revealing the characters at s certain pace.
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Soo good! Great story about friendship, hardships, heartaches and loss. Your heart breaks for all three characters as they try to find their way in a world that has essentially turned their back on them and left them to a broken system.
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
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I got this book at a conference for teachers I attended last summer (NTCTELA). It was the second time I'd heard the author, Matt de la Pena, speak. I love his back story!

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

I'm just not sure if putting it on the "Mature" shelf of my classroom is going to be enough. The cussing was
Guadalupe Ramirez
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spring-2015
I wasn't expecting to like this book much because at first the characters seemed so stereotypical. I heard the "Mexican" in Miguel's voice, and the "Black" in Rondell. On and off throughout the book, I wondered what a Black student might think reading it- the over the top religious simpleton might be offensive.

Apart from that, I enjoyed the story of three troubled teens discovering themselves as they break away from a group home. I was moved by the scene where Miguel discovers their files,
Mrs. Scott
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Likeable mixed-up kids think they need to start over, but really they need to connect with someone, grieve, and then hold onto life. Very moving, very cool how de la Pena weaves in the books Miguel is reading: Of Mice & Men, The Color Purple, Catcher in the Rye, The House on Mango Street. De la Pena totally gets the caught-in-the-middle aspect of being biracial, and makes us get it, too. A tough book with enough foul language and hopelessness to make me careful about recommending it--but ...more
Wendy Wallflower
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
My review can be found here:
The Dusty Jacket
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I can sometimes make stuff happen just by thinking about it. I try not to do it too much because my head mostly gets stuck on bad stuff, but this time something good actually happened: the judge only gave me a year in a group home. Said I had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how I think. Dude didnt know I was probably gonna write a book anyways. Or that its hard as hell bein at home these days, after what happened. So when he gave out my sentence it was almost ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a sad book. Teen age Miguel has landed in a group home after spending some time in juvenile hall. He has a chip on his shoulder and the complete inability to admit to his crime - although the reader is always aware it has something to do with Miguel's older brother, Diego. Once at the group home, a kind of psycho kid, Mong, asks Miguel to break out of the home and take off to Mexico, where they will supposedly become fishermen. Miguel's room mate, a tall, illiterate black kid named ...more
Reese B
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A young boy miguel who has a nice life does a bad thing in his life was perfect and everything else and one day something big happen in his life sohe got sent away from his brother and momma and he had to get his life together so he had to leave and he met friends when he left his mother house . soo then they got close and they was like a little family
One thing is that i didnt like is he didnt never go back to see his momma talk to her and then go back where he was at and how one main
Christine Fitzgerald
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is at the top of my list for diverse books. There is nothing mainstream about this book yet the story and characters are totally relatable. Cant wait to book talk this one on Monday!!! ...more
Allison Church
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Not as powerful as the others I've read lately, but holds it's own. I wouldn't necessarily choose to pick this up again because some of the descriptions grossed me out a bit. But overall the story was an uplifting and hopeful one in the end.
Acadia O’Bannon
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: eng356
I chose to read this book because it came highly recommended by my young adult literature professor. It seemed like an interesting story and I tend to like mysterious plots.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes new realism and coming of age novels. This story tells a great tale about an emotionally lost teenager trying to do the best he can when hes on his own escaping the law. Definitely an emotional book. I would only recommend this book to people who have tough skins.

Because of its
Myles Messner
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Matt tells the story of a trouble making teenager named Miguel in the story We Were Here. Miguel is smart with a good heart, but he struggles to make the right decisions. After committing a crime, the Judge decides to send Miguel to a group home for a year. Miguel also has to write in a personal journal for a year so his counselor can try to understand what he is thinking. Little does the judge know, sending Miguel to a group home was doing him a favor. Miguel's mom couldn't even look him in ...more
Jack Y.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When the event happened, nothing was the same for Miguel, the main character of We Were Here by Matt De La Peña. A judge put Miguel in a juvenile home after a terrible crime, and sentenced him to write his thoughts in a journal so the counselor could figure out how his mind worked. The judge didnt know that he was doing Miguel a favor. After the horrible night, his relationship with his mother was changed forever, and she couldnt even look him in the face. According to Miguel, anywhere but his ...more
Danielle Larca
Feb 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
"Your whole life, man, it can change in one minute." (p. 99)

No one knows this better than Miguel. One day he's living with his mom and brother, Diego, in their Stockton California home and the next he's in a group home with a bunch of stupid guys and a surfer dude counselor, Jaden, who keeps trying to talk to him about what happened. But Miguel can't talk about what happened. Not with Jaden; not with anyone. After getting in a fight with the skinny, bald dude named Mong, Miguel decides to steer
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The main character of this story is a teenage boy named Miguel. He lived with his family which was his mom and his brother Diego, his dad died fighting in the army. The book takes place mainly in California most of the time, and a time period of about two months. The main idea or conflict in this book is that Miguel did something really bad he had to go to Juvi, and then to a group home, and during all this he was supposed to wrote a journal to keep track of his thoughts. While in this group ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Character Education 1 9 Oct 28, 2011 06:52AM  
book discussion 1 20 Apr 08, 2010 12:05PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • My Mother the Cheerleader
  • Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe
  • Bruiser
  • I Am the Cheese
  • Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy
  • Calvin
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Chasing Brooklyn
  • From Bad to Cursed (Bad Girls Don't Die, #2)
  • The Daughters of Ys
  • Long Way Down
  • The Boy in the Black Suit
  • Hero
  • Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
  • Speechless
  • Can't Get There from Here
  • The Fountains of Silence
  • Patron Saints of Nothing
See similar books…
Matt de la Peña is the New York Times best-selling, Newbery-medal-winning author of six young adult novels and four 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 ...more

Related Articles

Matt de la Peña answers all our questions about the latest and final installment of the DC Icons series.
18 likes · 3 comments
“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.” 43 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.” 24 likes
More quotes…