Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?
On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.
As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.
you were here was not only my favorite contemporary read of 2016, but it immediately became one of my favorite books ever, period. it is hard for me to even put into words how much this book means to mean & why. this was such an emotional and personal read for me, and even just looking at the cover now invokes so much emotion in me.
to put it mildly, this book changed me.
immediately after reading this book, i reached out to the author & she told me that writing this book was a very cathartic experience for her, & that’s exactly what my reading experience with it was. i have known grief since i was a young girl, & sometimes i am still so consumed by it, to the point where i feel suffocated by it. that’s why books like this, that capture that all encompassing essence of grief so well, speak to me so very loudly. these type of books bring me so much relief, & i feel like i can breathe again after reading them.
grief is such a strange & unique thing, & this book does an excellent job of showing its many facets, & how all of us an individuals deal with our traumas & losses. there is no right or wrong way to grieve, just as there is no timeline for how long it is acceptable to grieve for.
this book has multiple characters, all of whom were deeply affected in one way or another by the loss of a daredevil teenager named jake. while it would seem that jaycee, his younger sister, is most traumatized by his death, we learn that the other characters within the story also have deeply rooted emotional scars in relation to his untimely death. each of these characters had so much depth to them, and to see them all so broken over the loss of one boy really gives such a glimpse into just how much a single loss can change us all in so many different ways.
perhaps one of the best things about this book is the unique & original way in which some of the character’s povs were narrated. it combines typical storytelling with graphic novel style and art (one of the characters, bishop, is constantly tagging, and his pov is shown through pictures of what he has tagged throughout the story). i have never seen a book written this way, and it was amazing. upon reading the story you will see why it was written this way, and why it makes so much sense. this unique form of storytelling alone is worth picking the book up for.
this is a coming of age story that will shatter you into pieces & stitch you back up little by little just when you’re least expecting it to. honestly this book is so underrated, & i hope that more people will unearth this hidden gem & find solace in it just as i did.
“that’s what regret does well and grief does better: rips out your energy and leaves you feeling each and every heartbeat.”
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️