REVIEW: You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 1st March 2016
Pages: 400
Source: *Received from Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

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.
Such a powerful and thought provoking novel, as you witness the struggle of a group of teens trying to carry on with their lives after the death of a brother and friend. This cover really says it all to the reader, it really reflects the feelings of our protagonist, and it feels rather powerful.

Jaycee loves dares. A year later after the death of her older brother after he was dared and broke his neck, Jaycee attempts to break into her brothers hideout, and reconnect with her brothers best friend. But what she does not expect to find is a map of dares laid out by her brother, and Jaycee will not let herself carry on with her life unless she completes them.

Jaycee is a very complex and awkward character, though one that the reader cannot help but be intrigued by. As the reader, you witness her inner turmoil in coming to terms with the death of her brother, paired with the emotional scar it has left on her. I would not necessarily say Jaycee is a likeable character, mainly because of the way she treats other people, however she is witty and McCarthy really defines her from the other characters. However, you do see Jaycee's evolvement as a character, becoming her own person and not hiding behind the shadows of her bother. Though a saddening and emotional novel, the reader witnesses Jaycee strip herself of her guilt and allow herself say that it's okay for her to go to college and achieve. Although Jaycee is our main protagonist, the reader witnesses the reveal of the emotional trauma caused by the incident to others, not just herself. It is powerful seeing her friends reveal the way the tragedy affected them, and it really opens the readers mind in looking at how although they appear okay on the outside, they too are struggling and that Jaycee is not alone. And this show of friendship will warm your heart, especially as they all realise they are not alone with their struggles.

The plot was perfectly paced and poignant. Although upsetting and thought-provoking, the adventure these friends go on brings them together, and although they are struggling with following this map, they are doing it together. Contemporary's are not my usual genre, for some reason I commonly do not enjoy them, however You Were Here really stood out to me and truly made me think, and I felt McCarthy did a brilliant job of tackling a tricky topic. As the reader, you witness how grief is unique to everyone and effects people in many different ways; Jaycee is daring, risking her life, Tyler whom tries to forget by drinking, Mik who no longer speaks to anyone and, Natalie who tries to make her life appear as perfect as possible to not let anyone see what is really happening. This real mix of characters made the novel very poignant, realistic and intriguing as you witness how very different people come together and help one-another in different ways.

Overall, You Were Here leaves an emotional yet thought-provoking impression, though also leaves you satisfied as you witness a group of friends rid themselves of their feelings of guilt to allow themselves to carry on with their lives.

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