You Were Here

“My mom hated this board. She said he’d break his neck.” Her voice was eerily smooth. Isn’t that funny?”


“I’m not laughing.”

Title: You Were Here

Author: Cori McCarthy

Series: Standalone

Publication: March 1st 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 400

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

My Thoughts:

Wow.. just wow. You know, sometimes there are those books when words can’t do them justice – and You Were Here is one of those rarities. It is a heavy, hard hitting novel about dealing with grief. How do you cope when the person you love the most dies? How do you keep on living knowing your brother no longer stands beside you? How do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other on the fifth anniversary of their death? How do you honor them? Well, You Were There is a torturous tale that explores what it takes to finally let go.

Jake, Jaycee’s brother, was a daredevil who never said no. You dared him to do something, you bet your buttons he was going to do it just to watch you squirm. But, there is only so long you can go on tempting fate before she finally cuts your string. Jake does not walk away from his final stunt – and it leaves devastating ripples. Jaycee, his sister, is broken. She is destructive, angry, confused, and alone. She has just done what her brother couldn’t – live past High School. She, on the fifth anniversary of her brother’s death, decides to honor his memory by doing yet another thing just for him – completing his final stunt. She, along with four other misfits from the Island of Misfit Toys, embark on an adventure to complete Jake’s final stunt.

Each of these misfits is connected to Jaycee and Jake. There is Natalie, Jaycee’s best friend from childhood. Zach, Natalie’s boyfriend – who brings along his best friend Bishop. Then there is Mike, Jake’s friend. Over the course of this adventure, these four characters find themselves growing closer – find themselves bonding over the loss of someone who they all loved.

The characters, each and every one of them, all go through a harrowing journey. They are all trying to grow up and move past the one thing holding them back – but they can’t, not until they can cope with their grief. As these characters move through the adventure laid out before them, they learn that the only way to cope – to start to be alright again – is to help each other do the same. No one can be alone in grief – everyone needs to heal, and sometimes to do that you need a shoulder to lean on.

Each character gets a point of view, each character gets a chance to tell their stories. Actually, it was one of the things that made this book so interesting. This book isn’t told just in prose, but graphic novel or comic book style as well – whichever you prefer. It was unique – just like the story it holds. It is engaging, emotional, and it perfectly encapsulated what needed to be shown. It was a powerful narrative mode for an equally powerful story.

There is something beautiful about broken people, especially when they come together and make a whole. You Were Here features a diverse cast of emotionally shattered characters who are slowly figuring out how to pick up the pieces a tragic death left behind. This is a clever examination of a journey through love, death, break ups, and revelations. Read it, you won’t regret it.

“She wasn’t trying to kill herself. She’s not like that. She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.”

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This Is Where It Ends

“Fear and survival are two sides of the same coin. Dad taught me that. These last two years he proved it again and again. Terror is our strongest force, because we’re only afraid when we have something to lose – our lives, our loves… our dignity. It’s been such a long time since I felt afraid.”

Title: This Is Where It Ends

Author: Marieke Nijkamp

Series: Standalone

Publication: January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 292

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

 

Summary from Goodreads:

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

 

My Thoughts:

Well… that just happened. Gosh, I don’t even know what to say because I am feeling so many different things at once. This is one of those reviews where I had to walk away for a while before I could even think about what to possibly say – and as I write this, I am still trying to process everything running through my head. This Is Where It Ends is phenomenal and terrifying. Reading it shook me to my core to the point where I had to vent to my father about how upset and uneasy I was. This was not an easy read in any way, shape, or form. It is hard hitting, covers a difficult subject matter, and will toy with your emotions to bring you to your breaking point.

This Is Where It Ends takes place over an excruciating 54 minute period of the day. But, it is those 54 minutes in which everything changes. It doesn’t take very long to kill a lot of people, it doesn’t take very long at all – but the fear these characters felt and the trauma they experienced made this book seem like it took forever. Each new chapter, or window of time, I had to double check how much time had passed for I felt as if I were stuck inside of infinity with them. Told through four different points of view, This Is Where It Ends takes you on a wild journey through a living nightmare.

I think the hardest part about reading this book, besides the obvious, was the sheer helplessness of these students. I don’t mean helpless where they couldn’t defend themselves or others, I mean helpless as in the terror of not being able to protect someone you love. Each of the narrators had a sibling involved in the event, that or someone they loved dearly. I don’t want to talk about who the shooter is because it is sort of a spoiler, you don’t know until the book wants you to know. I can give a basic run down, though. Claire is the shooter’s ex girlfriend and during the shooting her younger brother is trapped in the auditorium with the other students while she is safe outside with the police. Sylvia is Autumn’s girlfriend and her brother Tomas was in “detention” so she has no idea where he is – but she knows the two of them are main targets. Autumn, the shooter’s sister, is completely terrified for Sylvia and for her brother despite what he is doing. And then there is Tomas, the self sacrificing hero that I can’t talk about without wanting to cry. So, you see, each and every one of them was connected in some way – and that made it all the more painful.

One thing that Nijkamp did very well was illustrate the deep bonds of family – both the family of our blood and the family we choose. She created these amazingly complex, heartbreaking characters and threw them into the hell fire of a school shooting. Their reactions, the character’s reactions, were so real that I found myself completely destroyed by the events that were taking place. Each shot fired was a shock straight to my heart. The writing is beautiful, the story is gut wrenching and hard to swallow. Nothing about this book and what it was trying to showcase is sugarcoated – it is raw, real, and will keep you clinging to the edge of your seats while simultaneously begging for mercy.

I do not know what else to say about this book other than the fact that you need to read it as soon as humanly possible (or inhumanly if you’re just that awesome). This Is Where It Ends is a hard hitting novel about loss and the fear of what you hope is impossible or that will never happen to you. This book confronts issues head on and then tackles them to the ground with a brutality that will both surprise you and make you cry out for more. This, as I have said, is not an easy read. Nor should it be. This Is Where It Ends is perfect and it is the only way a book like this should ever be. Skillfully weaved together with tragedy and hope, This Is Where It Ends is one hell of a book to kick off the new year.

“Together, we’ll get out. Together, we’ll survive this. Together, we’ll be strong enough to face whatever comes our way. This is where it ends.”

 

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Teaser Tuesday # 15

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This weeks Teaser Tuesday is for This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp!

“Fear and survival are two sides of the same coin. Dad taught me that. These last two years he proved it again and again. Terror is our strongest force, because we’re only afraid when we have something to lose – our lives, our loves… our dignity. It’s been such a long time since I felt afraid.”

“If you cooperate, some of you might go home today. All you have to do is listen carefully to what I’m saying. No screaming, no running, no phones, and certainly no attempting to disarm me. Today, you’ll all listen.”

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Some Boys (Original Pub Date: 06/04/15)

“The cops wanted to know if I was Zac’s girlfriend, if I was drinking, doing drugs, if I ever worked as a stripper, if I ever kissed Zac before that night. What the hell does any of that have to do with what happened?”

Title:  Some Boys

Author:  Patty Blount

Series: None

Publication: August 5th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire

Genre:  Contemporary, Romance

Pages:  339

Source: Publisher at ALA

Summary: 

Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole. 

When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But…Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own. 

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love? 

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send. 

My Thoughts: 

Some Boys by Patty Blount covers one of the most controversial topics in today’s society: rape. I would be lying if I told you that reading this book was easy, because it isn’t. How would you feel if no one believed what you had to say? How would you feel if the person that found you bleeding and unconscious didn’t believe you, either? What about your own father? This is what Grace is going through,  and her story mirrors the story of thousands of girls today.

Some Boys starts off mere days after Grace is raped. As is normal when it comes to the “he said, she said” sort of battles, those who hear what is going on tend to side with whomever has more social standing – and in this case, that is Zac. Here’s the deal. Grace’s friends knew that she liked Zac before the party, they helped her get dressed in a way that he would like, they saw her flirting with him – so, therefore, Grace must be lying, right? Sadly, this is the all too common way rapes are dealt with. If the victim had previous feelings for their attacker, if they didn’t fight back hard enough, if they were drinking, wearing provocative clothes, etc., then people automatically assume that their accusations are false. Grace is dealing with this ten fold. Not only does no one believe her because of who she accused, but they harass her incessantly because of it. They vandalize her car, her house, people ask her for sex, people throw things at her, say horrible things – things that shouldn’t be done to someone who has already suffered the trauma of their lifetime. The worst part? Even the people who sort of know the truth go along with everyone else because it is easier to play along than it is to stand up for someone.

This book is split between two point of views. We have Ian, one the aforementioned naysayers that refuses to tell the truth, and we have Grace. Now, Ian and Grace were really interesting for two reasons. One, before Grace is raped, they were both planning on asking each other out but now Ian has backed off because his best friend got to her first. See where this is going? Bro code is a huge part of this, and I swear to God every single time Ian brought it up as an excuse made me want to castrate him with a blunt butter knife. Guess why I wanted to castrate him so badly? Ian is the one who found Grace unconscious and bleeding out in the middle of the woods and yet he still didn’t stand up for her! What an ass. Please excuse that, back to our regularly scheduled programing here. So, the second reason that I loved reading from their intermixed perspectives was because Grace didn’t take any of Ian’s shit. She stood up for herself, she made him think about his actions and what he saw, and she made him tuck tail and run – I loved every second of it.

Speaking of Grace, I really loved her. I don’t even know how to describe how much I loved her. She was strong, she was fierce, she was a firecracker. I loved her no nonsense attitude, the way she stood up for herself, the badass way she tried to raise awareness for what had been done to her at the end of the book. I loved everything about her. Also, her sharp temper could rival Rose Hathaway – and that’s saying something. If you have read Vampire Academy, you know exactly what I mean by that. I have to give Grace some serious credit, because, as you all know, I give credit where credit is due. She didn’t let her rape destroy her. She wasn’t fine, she wasn’t okay, she wasn’t happy – she was shattered, but she didn’t let it stop her from surviving day after day. She didn’t let it keep her down, she didn’t keep her mouth shut, she didn’t just let it happen. She fought for herself and it was beautiful.

Now, Ian. If you couldn’t tell from my earlier paragraph, I hated him. Being someone’s friend is no excuse to ignore what is right when it is sitting right in front of your damn eyes. I do have to say that he did develop as a character, Grace did make him see the truth in the end, but still. It shouldn’t have taken him stealing Zac’s phone and seeing something that I am not going to talk about, because it is a huge spoiler, to realize that Grace was right and that he was an asshole for not believing her sooner. I mean, really? Do you really think a girl would come out with something like that against the most popular boy in school in a town that small without it being true? I can say this, though. I hate him, but I admire his loyalty just as much as I loathe it. Loyalty is a rare thing, I’ll admit that, so seeing it to that degree was sort of nice – though it was completely misguided. I don’t know what else to say about Ian, I don’t want to hate on him any more than I already have in this review, so, moving on.

If I had to pick one last thing to say, it would be this: Some Boys is a deep cutting, emotional, and extremely raw story that works hard to bring rape and its effects into the light. I think it does an incredible job of showing us what we don’t want to see, of showing us how people can hurt one another. I think every single person needs to read this book as soon as they possibly can, it is worth it.

Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone (Original Pub Date: 04/15/15)

“The only thing worse than being stuck in Twin Oaks for the summer without my best buddy, Nathan, is being stuck in Twin Oaks for the summer and having to spend most of it with Everly Jenkins.”

Title: Some Kind of Normal

Author: Juliana Stone

Series: Standalone

Publication: May 5, 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 304

Source: Netgalley

Summary:

What is Normal?

For Trevor normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves Trevor with no band, no teammates and no chance of graduating. It’s kinda hard to ace your finals when you’ve been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor—those beautiful blue eyes catching every last flaw.

For Everly normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor’s daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.

My Thoughts:

I’d like to start off by saying how much I adored this book. I didn’t think I would, I was thrown off by the tendency of the voice to switch from past to present, as well as the shifting point of views. It was not bad though, in fact, it sort of elevated the story. After I got used to the writing and the characters distinct voices, I found myself falling in love with Some Kind of Normal. To describe how I felt reading this book, I want to use a quote from The Fault in Our Stars. I fell in love with this book the same way Hazel fell in love with Augustus: “slowly, and then all at once.”

It did take me a while before I became invested in the characters and what was actually going on, I spent far too long simmering with annoyance due to the stereotypical characters, their situations, and the insta-love. One of my biggest pet peeves of the book was Everly, she made fun of her friend for falling instantly in love with Link, and yet she did the exact same thing herself with Trevor. I did like everything else, though. I loved how the issue with Everly’s father was not what I expected it to be, I loved her mom’s sudden flip, and I loved how she was not the girl I perceived her to be at the beginning of the novel.

This book is narrated in two main points of view, Everly and Trevor. It starts off with Trevor and then flips to Everly, but both of them are basically lamenting the exact same problem. Neither of them are who they were before because of something “drastic”. I understand Trevor’s problem with his anger after the accident more than I understood Everly. The point of view switching actually sort of helped me cope with the parts I didn’t like quite as much as others. Seeing Everyly through Trevor’s eyes, and visa-versa, made for a much more compelling story. Since we were not confined to one train of thought, when one of the two characters acted out in such a way to make the other hate them, we often were given an explanation shortly thereafter from that characters internal monologue. The best part of this, in my opinion, was being able to fall in love with both of them. You sort of hate Trevor when you are in his head, and I sort of hated Everly when in hers, but when they look at each other it becomes easier to see the things that they do not see within themselves. One of my favorite scenes in this book is when Everly asks Trevor what he sees in her and he responds “I see you.” It was beautiful, cheesy and predictable, but beautiful.

That is sort of how I see the whole book, really. It was a predictable and wonderfully cheesy story up until the end. I was pleasantly surprised by how Everly didn’t automatically give forgiveness, and I applaud her for that. Overall, Some Kind of Normal was a spectacular read for those who are craving some simple romance. There are a lot of mature themes throughout, especially when reading from Trevor’s point of view. In his own defense, he even laughs at himself for just being a seventeen year old male. Because of the overlapping themes of sex and drugs, I would recommend this book for ages fifteen and up.