When You Were Here is a very emotional story, but in a different way than, for example, The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, it is a book that partly about cancer, but it’s more of a story of a boy and his attempts at making peace with his mother’s death and the aftermath, as well as the secrets he uncovers in the process.
I had some mixed feelings about Danny. At the start of When You Were Here, I didn’t like him. I thought he was self-centered and just an emotional wreck that was trying to push all of his feelings down. That last part was definitely true, but the other I grew to understand as the book went on and I started to like him a bit more. When Danny goes to Tokyo, you see this other side of him: one that can have fun, open up, and deal with the difficult things he learns while there. Also, he confronts his feelings towards his sister, his mother, and his father, all ones that he has tried to not deal with for many years.
I have to say, I didn’t like Holland, even when she tells Danny some important things that shed light on why she has made the decisions she has. She always felt fake to me, and I didn’t understand why Danny liked her in the present (in the past, I totally get it – she was sweet and a blast to be around) but in the present she was just… It’s hard to explain, but I just didn’t get a good feeling from her character. Kana, on the other hand, I adored. She brought out a good part of Danny that made him a better person, and even if they couldn’t be together romantically, I think their friendship was one of the highlights of this novel. Sandy Koufax was also a highlight – her and Danny’s relationship was so heart-warming and reminded me of my relationship with my dogs, except stronger.
The plot of this book was strong, and it was constantly moving, which I really liked. The flashbacks slowed it at times, but all of them were important to the plot of the book and added to each of the characters. I highly recommend this book for people looking for something post-The Fault in the Stars that discusses cancer, but not at such a heart-wrenching level. I really enjoyed this book!
-post by Willa
About the Book:
Title: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Release Date: 6/4/2013