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June 21, 2013

Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Title: When You Were Here 
Author: Daisy Whitney
 Little, Brown
Publication date: June 4th, 2013
Genre(s): Young Adult (Realistic Fiction)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 264
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.
When You Were Here was definitely different than most contemporary novels out there, but it was a great different. From a boy's point of view, Danny has lost everything in his life. His father died six years ago. His mother has been fighting cancer for the last 5 years, and has dies just before his graduation. His adopted sister has lost most contact with him when she decided she wanted to learn more about her "roots" and live in China. Danny is all alone in a house in California. His mother's best friend, Kate, lives right next door and is always there to take care of him. Ofcourse, there has to be the girl next door, and that would be Kate's daughter! Holland and Danny were actually dating a while ago, but things just changed later on.
As simple as this story might be, it was definitely peaceful. Just reading about Danny's journey of unraveling secrets about his dead mother was just beautiful. This book was set in one of my favorite places in the world, and it's Japan. I was thrilled to know that there was a large portion of this book set in Japan. I've never been there, but I've watched and read too many things about it to not know how amazing of a place it is. It's my dream to travel there, and just reading about it was so much fun! Anyways, Danny decides to travel to Tokyo because he had an apartment there to take care of. Danny also decided to travel to figure out why his mother always felt happier there. The description of the tea houses and the harajuku girls and the busy nights was just amazing. I completely loved it. As the story went on, it was interesting to understand why his mother felt peaceful in Japan. Throughout the days, Danny was able to find out day by day more things about his mother's days in Tokyo. 
I loved Danny's dog, Sandy Kaufman. She was always the one who lights up the mood of the book. I love animals so it was so much fun to get to know Sandy Kaufman as more than just a "dog". There's also Kana, the amazing Japanese girl who becomes a very close friend to Danny. Overall, this book was beautiful in many ways. It's more to the realistic fiction, as it more concentrates about one finding his inner peace. This was a great read, and I cannot wait to get my hands on future books by Daisy Whitney!


  1. I absolutely adore books told solely from a guy's POV, which is rare. Especially in contemp books. Also, there are so many contemporary books out there that just seem so...cliche, like they're all the same at the root of things. I'm happy to see that you described this book as "different than most." And WHOO FOR JAPAN! I'll definitely have to check this out! Thanks for the amazing review.

    ~ Gabbi @ BookBreather

  2. Wow this really does sound fantastic. There's so few male POV books out there, yet it seems like this author really nailed the voice, and especially the grief. I love how this seems like such a beautiful book about self-discovery, and about the MC finding out who his mother really was. And it's set in JAPAN! A place I totally want to go to.

    Ah-mazing review, Farah!! <3 I can't wait to pick this one up now!

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  3. Aww Farah, this book sounds absolutely lovely! I'm quite excited to pick it up because I've heard amazing things about Whitney's books. I love the synopsis for this one, ESPECIALLY because it's set in Japan, how awesome is that! The way she describes the setting just makes it sound wonderful. I'm glad you ended up really enjoying all of the characters, even the dog! Fantastic review, darling!

  4. I love a good book written from a male's POV. I've been hearing really good things about this, and I like that Japanese culture factor. Great review!

  5. I agree with you, Farah. This story, even though a bit messed up, was peaceful. I loved it too and surprisingly, my review for it is up as well. And Sandy Koufax was adorable! So glad you loved this book as well. Awesome review!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  6. I think this sounds wonderful, and an emotional journey for Danny. But he sounds like a strong character to venture on this path. Great review!

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  7. Wow, this sounds fabulous! I thought this would be a story with angst and regret - guess my assumption was wrong. I think I'll love to read about Danny's Tokyo trip. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Sounds like a great new author. I love this cover so much!!!!! :-)

  9. I've never heard of this book before, it sounds pretty good. And I love male pov's! Great review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  10. I'm just about to start reading this book and I can't wait! I've heard so many great things about it. I love books about some one on a personal journey. Great review!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  11. I have been seeing a lot on blogs. It looks pretty good.

    Great review!


  12. This book sounds interesting. I've seen some good reviews so far, I might like it :)