You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

you-were-hereHigh school graduation is often a time filled with celebration and excitement.  For Jaycee, though, graduation day dredges up feelings of anxiety and depression.  Why?  Because her older brother, Jake, died on his own graduation day.  Jaycee doesn’t know how to handle the fact that she will now, officially, be older than Jake ever was.  Though his death came as the result of a daredevil stunt gone wrong, Jaycee finds comfort in emulating his behavior.  Instead of seeing Jake’s death as a warning to be more careful, she finds herself repeating his stunts in an attempt to channel his spirit.  Jaycee expected to take this journey alone, but she ended up with a motley crew of [former?] friends who also needed to make their peace with Jake’s death.  Guided by Jake’s urban exploring journal, Jaycee followed both literally and figuratively in his footsteps and finally discovered that it’s possible to let go of grief without letting go of her loving memories.

I appreciated getting parts of the story directly from the perspectives of different characters, like Jaycee’s childhood BFF Natalie.  But, more than that, I enjoyed the different storytelling techniques that were employed — like the pictures of the poems Bishop crafted in his sketches and graffiti or the graphic novel panels that told the story of Mik, who refused to speak aloud but whose actions spoke for him.  McCarthy did a fabulous job of showing how the death of a loved one can alternately tear us apart and build us up stronger than before.  I recommend this story to readers who enjoyed See You at Harry’s and Before You Go.

Happy Reading!

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