Author: Daisy Whitney
Published: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown
Category: Romance, Contemporary
Trailer: not available
Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.
Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.
Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.
When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
I don't know if anyone of you knows by now, I am such a sucker for these kinds of cover. The Bokeh/Sunlight effect really strikes home. I think I've mentioned that around seven times now on the blog so what do you know? I TOTALLY FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS COVER! I seriously did. I've only read the ebook version and I cannot wait to pet and hug this book once my hard cover arrives! And am so so happy to finally have read it and died with so much unexpected emotional missiles aimed directly at my heart.
Danny is simply emotionally wrecked - his dad met a terrible accident, his sister left them, his childhood sweetheart dumped him and his mom succumbed to cancer two months before his high school graduation. All he has is his dog and he feels so alone and so hurt. When he receives a letter from Kana from Japan, he decides to go there to find out why his mother's medicine bottles are full and to also talk to Dr. Takahashi - the last doctor his mother thought of as her miracle doctor.
I just want to let go and breathe out the longest WOWWW I've been holding since I've finished this. Like, totally WOOOOWWW. I wasn't prepared for how strong the impact would be and I got hit over and over and over again. This is the kind of impact that would shake all your innards and make your chest tight as if there are clouds of cotton inside.. would make it hard to breathe and your jaws would start locking and your throat would start aching because you just have to hold the TEARS. WOOOOW. When You Were Here is such emotionally invested novel that would crush all your "walls" and melt your heart. This is actually happening in real life, there might obviously "fictional" touches to it but I've seen people live lives like this. Haaaaa, this is just really heavy in the chest that I actually don't want to recommend this to people who easily get depressed because the pain in this story lingers. There were so much confusion and pain and it was really hard to go by without being too weak. I loved every part of the story and I don't regret having this book added to my Most Anticipated Novels for the year. It was just worth it.
As I have mentioned on my status update on Goodreads, if I were Danny, I would have lost my mind by now. Whatever he'd gone through, I know I wouldn't handle the way he did. Personally, I just dread the day when I have to say goodbye to my mom even though I know its inevitable. I SIMPLY JUST CANNOT. Thinking of it makes me choke. With that, my adoration for Danny simply skyrocketed because he rationally handled this enormous pain well. Some people might have gone completely astray given this heavy burden but somehow, he embraced it and even went ways to find closure. Plus, his loyalty to the one he truly loves just blossomed despite of the crazy situation. He didn't judge, he didn't wallow in pain but instead welcomed the chance laid out for him. He may have questioned motives but it completely made sense. He was kept in the dark for so long and true enough, it is a little disappointing discovering truth on your own. You would feel betrayed but he let love overcome pain. I disliked the girls a little, though. Holland was just too selfish for me and Kana's personality was also a little too loud.
When You Were Here touches the core of the soul. Sometimes we see and welcome happiness after being clouded by such horrible circumstances we don't think we could overcome. This novel might be too heavy for a drama but the things it would make you appreciate and realize are beyond amazing! It encapsulates freedom, love, healing and peaceful closure that definitely bring tears to the eyes. Heart warning novel that I listed as one of my top favorite contemporary novels ever.
""What is it you need?" It's such a simple question, but I could answer it in fifty thousand different ways. Because there is so much I need. I am filled with so much want, so much need and yet every day I keep reaching, and every day I keep missing the mark."
"I don't understand how can you nurture something so dark, so twisted for so long."
"That's a gift, in a way, to be able to have the last thing you say to someone be the last thing you want them to have heard from you."
""What is so messed up?" I don't tell her that my grasp on truth, on words, on people, has slipped. I was getting close, so close to normal again and that's been snatched away. I'm not even back where I started. I'm somewhere else entirely, so far off the map. I don't know where to turn next."