REVIEW and EXCERPT
You Were Here
by Cori McCarthy
You Were Here is the latest release by Cori McCarthy. I was lucky enough to be one of the first 500 people to receive a review copy from NetGalley, a great site for readers to find new authors and for authors to find new readers. You can read my review and an excerpt from the book below.
Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.
Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.
Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and … Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jaycee to do the unthinkable - reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.
Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations. Her gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennifer Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.
Praise for the Book
"You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us - and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together." ~ Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines
"The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them - and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters' stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!" ~ Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things
"A beautiful coming-of-age story, this book will leave readers thinking about it long after they close it." ~ VOYA Magazine, a VOYA Best Book
"The mix of forms as well as the insights each character gleans through their urban explorations render this book both readable and teachable on multiple levels." ~ Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
"Readers who appreciate stories of searching for personal truths will be happy to join this meaningful quest for identity and independence." ~ Booklist
"The topic of urban exploration and the inclusion of graphic novel style chapters will appeal to teens." ~ School Library Journal
By Lynda Dickson
On the night of her high school graduation, Jaycee Stranglove reminisces about the death of her daredevil older brother Jake five years earlier. When she finds his diary and a map of the urban ruins he explored, she decides to follow in his footsteps. She is accompanied by Natalie, who is trying to rekindle their friendship; Natalie's loser boyfriend, Zach; the heart-broken artist, Bishop; and Jake's best friend Mik, a selective mute. We follow their adventures exploring The Ridges, an abandoned insane asylum on the edge of town; Moonville Tunnel, an ancient railway tunnel; The Gates of Hell, a disused open drainage pipe; Randall Park Mall, an abandoned shopping center; and Geauga Lake, a derelict amusement park. All Jaycee wants to do is feel connected to her dead brother. But when will she relinquish the past and start living?
You Were Here explores what happens in the two months a group of disparate friends have left before they leave for college. Relationships are made and destroyed, realities are confronted, and we are given a front-row view of the pain of growing up. The novel is told in alternating chapters by five characters who have five distinct voices: Jaycee's sardonic prose perfectly captures her teenage angst; Natalie portrays the high-achieving daughter always striving for perfection; Zach is the quintessential party-boy who's not ready to grow up; Bishop's contributions are in the form of drawings, graffiti, and street art; while Mik tells his story in graphic novel format. The wonderful illustrations by Sonia Liao add a whole new dimension to the story.
I really wanted to love this book. I was disappointed when I didn't feel much of an emotional connection to any of the characters at the beginning. However, as I got to know them, they became more and more real. And by the end ... yes, you guessed it ... I loved this book.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, alcohol abuse.
All of the urbex locations in You Were Here are real. Some are even open to the public. Check out the author's personal recollections and research on these sites here.
You can also take a look at this amazing drone footage of Geauga Lake Amusement Park, the location of the climactic scenes in You Were Here. If you've already read the book, did you find the spot where two of the characters had their first kiss?
About the Author
Cori McCarthy started writing when she was thirteen. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University, focusing in memoir writing and poetry. After graduation she completed UCLA’s Professional Program in Screenwriting and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Appalachian Ohio. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.