Book Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Reading Level: Young Adult | New Adult
Genre: Realistic Fiction | Contemporary
Released: June 4th 2013
Review Source: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

Danny is left parentless when his mother loses her battle with cancer after five years. He is all alone with his ex-girlfriend and his mother’s best-friend next door. His girlfriend broke up with him the summer before out of the blue with little of an explanation and with him taking care of his mother all alone, he was left with the depressing thought that he was going to be left alone. He has flashbacks all throughout the book about all the good times that they had together and how happy he made him, how alive that he felt. She was his main point of happiness and for her to break up with him with no explanation made no sense to him. Then the worst thing that could happen, happens.

His mom dies. His mom was his world for the last 5 years fighting this cancer. He didn’t prepare to lose her at all and for sure not as fast as she left this world. Now he has to live his life without her. He keeps thinking about all the things that she is going to miss. That she wanted to see. His graduation his wedding, his first kid. Everything she wanted to do. He didn’t prepare at all. Not even the big things. All the little things that he did with him mom – that everyone does with their mom- that he took for granted and now they always come to his mind and makes him suffer every-day.

He was sure that cancer was going to lose and, his mom was going to win this battle because of the doctor they went to in Tokyo. The doctor was making his mother so happy and better. He was sure that his mom had already won this battle but then it seemed that she was just gone. He had been lost until he got a letter from a caretaker of their apartment in Tokyo about unopened pill bottles. He thought maybe if he went to where his mom was last that he could see why she left so fast. He thought maybe something fishy happened that’s why she thought she was better.

This book has such strong emotion through the entire thing. Every time he has these thoughts like, maybe if I did something else to help… or everyone around me either dies or leaves. He truly believes that he is the problem. And, the strong feelings of love that he still has for his ex- girlfriend. It is moving and depressing at the same time. I love how it’s from a man’s point of view it shows how vulnerable that he is how much emotion that goes through every day he is stressed out he is lost and he admits that.

The way that this book was written is so moving because it is raw. It keeps no secret he is so honest that it hurts to hear, you will have to read it again to make sure you didn’t misread it. He is such a true and good person that a bunch of horrible things happened to him. And, he doesn’t understand what he is supposed to do. He is lost not only did he just graduate high-school… but, his mother just died. And, to him he has no one to help guide him or tell him no. but, In the worst possible way that freedom could come to you.

He is a new adult who is one of the most lost people in this new big world. When he goes to Tokyo he seems to be better. Not completely but he seems at rest a bit more. He isn’t trapped in a house full of memories that now only remind him that he can never make more. He has these little moments where he just says she’s gone… she is really gone, forever. He can’t wrap his head around the fact that his mother – the one who gave him life is gone and never coming back. The way that he expresses his feelings are brilliant and breathtaking. I couldn’t put this book down and it will be in my favorites always.

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