Review + Giveaway: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When You Were Here is finally here! Guys, I've been regaling people on Twitter about my When You Were Here reading experience and I've been pimping this book like no other. Goes to say that I love it so SO MUCH! Now it's time to pimp it on my blog. So I'm participating in its release day launch by Inkslinger PR with a review and a giveaway from Daisy herself! Come over and get to know why I think this is a gem!

When You Were Here
Title: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown
Date of Publication: June 4, 2013

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.

Purchase from Amazon | The Book Depository

Review

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (and lots of love)

First and foremost, thank you to Kelly of Inkslinger PR for the chance to read one of my favorite novels of the year and that's saying a lot as I've read tons of five-star books just this May. But not all five-star books are gonna be in my favorites shelf but this is one book I will never forget.


Danny Kellerman will graduate as the valedictorian in his high school but no one will be able to see it. His dad died in an accident years ago, his estranged sister is in China and his mom died of cancer. He has three months left before college, three months left with nothing to do but remember all the pain, grief and sadness in his life. Until a letter from Japan comes, a letter from their apartment caretaker's daughter, informing him that his mom has left some of her belongings there. Danny then goes to Tokyo to try and piece together his mom's last months there. How she lived, who she met, where she went and hopefully come into peace with his mother's passing by knowing how she remained happy even in her dying months. In there, he meets Kana, the caretaker's daughter, who has been a friend to his mom. Kana takes him to relive his mother's last stay in Japan and in the process learns a whole lot more about his mom and about himself.


I know, that was vague but I won't divulge the plot because the fun or more aptly, the pain is in  the not knowing. When the rug gets pulled right under you, you will become a slobbering mess of tears. The pain this book caused me was tangible. My chest ached for Danny. He's such a real character that I felt everything he felt. I cheered him on, I hated everyone he hated, it was as if I was in his shoes. I understood him on every level, his way of thinking, his feelings, his intentions, his thoughts. It is easy to relate to a character, to root for him/her, to want him/her to win and to grow. But how many novels are out there where you can say that you not only related to the character but you felt like you were the character? This is one of those novels.


The novel is told in Danny's perspective and in that aspect alone, it is worth a read. I don't think there are a lot of draining contemporary novels with a guy as a main character. When You Were Here was realistically written as well. It's inspired by a person Daisy knew and while this is fiction, all the feelings were truthful. The characters felt like real people, dimensional and flawed. The writing was beautiful, in that you can quote blocks and blocks and passages and passages of text, type it into a picture and everyone on Tumblr will reblog it. There's a cloud of sorrow and serenity looming over it, without veering into the overdramatic. It's like a good dramedy film such as 50/50, where the parts that were meant to be funny will make you laugh and the parts where you should choke back a sob will make you do just that.

Daisy Whitney, I am hereby offering you my glued together minced heart served on a sushi platter. When You Were Here was wonderfully heartbreaking yet uplifting. I cried while eating hashbrowns at McDonald's. Guys, potatoes and crying don't go together. Potatoes are my go-to comfort food. I didn't know I could cry while eating hashbrowns but When You Were Here did just that. It's not outright depressing but it's sad. And yet it's happy and hopeful, showing you the beauty of life, its nuances, its strained relationships, mending said relationships and finally, letting go of life and finding inner peace. Read it NOW or I will be forced to put you on the edge of a cliff and dangle you there until you swear that you'll read it. It will be physically painful and heavy on the chest but the lift, the lift is worth it. When I finished When You Were Here, I didn't read another book just yet. I just holed up in my room, curled up in my sheets with the rain as my background and felt and let it all soak in and eventually reread When You Were Here. Twice in a day? That's a first.

I recommend When You Were Here to any reader looking for an emotional read. Yes, it is emotional as you will feel a spectrum of emotions while reading it. Happiness, sadness, grief, sympathy, shock, loneliness, gratefulness and a whole lot more. If I could just reach out to the characters in the book and hug them so tight, I would. Sure, books hinging on the death of a parent are common in the young adult landscape. But Daisy Whitney has crafted a tale packed with punches to the heart yet peppered with peace, acceptance and love. Heart and gut-wrenching, When You Were Here will break you apart and put you right back piece by piece. When You Were Here will move you and make you move forward, to live your life and to love.

About Daisy Whitney

By day, Daisy Whitney is a reporter and ghostwriter. At night, she writes novels for teens and is the author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS and its sequel THE RIVALS (Little, Brown). Her third novel WHEN YOU WERE HERE releases in June 2013 (Little, Brown), and her fourth novel STARRY NIGHTS (Bloomsbury) hits shelves in September 2013. When Daisy's not inventing fictional high school worlds, she can be found somewhere north of San Francisco walking her adorable dog, watching online TV with her fabulous husband or playing with her fantastic kids.  A graduate of Brown University, she believes in shoes, chocolate chip cookies and karma.


Giveaway

As part of the release day launch hosted by Inkslinger PR, THREE (3) SIGNED/PERSONALIZED COPIES will be given away to lucky US/Canada residents. Moreover, because I told Daisy my crying-while-eating-hashbrowns story, she found that I love When You Were Here so much that she is exclusively giving away SIGNED/PERSONALIZED COPIES OF WHEN YOU WERE HERE in my blog to THREE (3) lucky US RESIDENTS. Yeap, that's right, there are six copies at stake here! So, she wants you to share some pictures related to When You Were Here on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter and of course, you'll get extra points on the giveaway for that. Contest ends on July 2. Good luck! (Still, you're free to share the photos either way. I will love you and Daisy will love you. In that case, thank you so much for promoting When You Were Here!)

Hosted by Oops! I Read A Book Again


Hosted by Inkslinger PR

8 comments:

  1. Eeeep!! Great, emotional, fabulous review! I loved this line the most: "I understood him on every level, his way of thinking, his feelings, his intentions, his thoughts." - this reminds me of why I loved being a reader. I'm so happy that you fully immersed not only into the story but into the main character's being. And it's okay to cry for books as long as it's the good kind. :)

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    1. Thanks Precious for the compliment! *blushing* I love finding books that make me cry, I just hate the physical act of crying. Especially in public. Thanks for dropping by! <3 Do read When You Were Here!

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  2. I love the types of books were there´s a travel to find themselves and rebuild themselves after a tragedy.

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    1. I love that too! Maybe it's the part of me who loves to travel but being in a different place really does wonders to the soul/heart. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. I love a good cry-book, and this seems like a great one! Thanks for the chance to win :D

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    1. This is a GREAT cry-book! Well, it won't make you bawl but it is still a cry-book. Thanks for dropping by, Kayla! :)

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  4. The setting of books and the emotional storyline looks like it is one I could relate to, finding out your parent was more adventuresome then you originally thought and coming to terms with loss. It appears to be a heartfelt read and I would love to read it.

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    1. It IS a heartfelt read! I hope you can read this sooner rather than later. Thanks for dropping by!

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