Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Second That: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When someone dies people expect you to be sad. They expect you to be sad in a way that they understand and can comfort. Then they expect you to get over it. Danny's mother died two months before his graduation and he has had it with what people expect him to do. The expectations are making him furious, or he would be furious if he felt anything other than numb these days.

At 18 he never thought that he would be the person who would have to make decisions about what to do with his parent's property or his mom's unused cancer drugs. But, he is and it sets him apart from the rest of his friends and even the girl that he used to be in love with. With nothing holding him to his childhood home, he takes off to Tokyo to at least retrace some of his mother's last days.

She isn't there. But, her handwriting is. Her favorite breakfast places. The amazing Kana, the girl who looked after her apartment and helped her learn Japanese. Can he put himself back together using the pieces that he finds?

When Katie recommended this book I stored it away in my brain and when I came across it on the shelf, I remembered her rave. Further, when I told her that I'd shoved it in my bag as vacation reading, she told me that she thought I'd love it because it reminded her of Gayle Forman. She couldn't have been more on the nose. The things I loved the most about it are the things I love the most about Forman's books: the tiny moments between people. A squeezed hand on the metro, the perfect text message, a great meal shared with a stranger, these things that would stand out in a person's memories and they are the things that make these books feel so special.

I love books where the setting is a character and that is certainly the case with Tokyo here. You want to wander the streets and eat sushi that was caught minutes before. As Danny falls for this city, so does the reader. It will leave you eying ticket deals and pondering how many hours it would take to fly from Reagan... answer: a lot. Luckily When You Were Here lets you travel without even renewing your passport. It's a perfectly thoughtful summer read.

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