Thursday, June 13, 2013

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here
Good Reads Summary
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

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.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been on my ‘Currently Reading Shelf’ for the past four days now. Don’t let that fool you… it only took me half this night to get through it. Life just got in the way, you now? Anyway, this book's left me feeling satisfied… and happy with how refreshingly different it read.

Danny is not the complete asshole I though he was. It’s clear that one loss then another will have anyone acting like one. There’s this bitterness to him and a  load on his shoulders from how somehow some when someone has wronged him either in a big way,  small way, or even in some unknown way. But read on a bit more, it’s heart breaking… every single loss he’s experienced: first the dad, then the sister, then the mother, and then the girlfriend.

It’s the loss of his mother that breaks him, but that’s our starting point with him. He is the lost, angry boy, trying to figure out his what-next and not managing to do that at all. Except there’s also the loss of the girlfriend that surprised me a little, him droning on and on as he did over this girl next door and why-why-whying their situation made him less the tragic figure and more just the ordinary guy. It’s that he is so ordinary that’s refreshing. Neither jock nor the nerd, he’s simply a guy… a guy who’s unsure about what’s to be done next. And what’s next? Apparently, Japan.. where things have him piecing things together and seeing things for what they really are.

It takes this spur of the moment choice for things to sink in for him; that his mother had decisions, that his sister did as well, and so did Holland for that matter. All the things he discovers plus all the things revealed to him made it clear that things were always happening even with him outside the picture. Then eventual admissions of wrongs, recognition of limits and wanting things done a certain way by one’s choosing… all those had me picturing strong women. That while this guy’s many many heartbreaks… could be taken as something else by another. That the there were dark things for his sister, there were choices for his mother, and there were missed opportunities for his girl next door. My. Point? He was the only one getting his heart broken. And though he’s not the center of it all, he’s what’s there linking them all. It’s through him we see his heartbreak is not just his.

Also, who else besides me loves odd ball characters? Kama should read odd ball, trying too hard… but became more than that. Perhaps it’s her personal drama of not fitting in and not trying to that did it. Or perhaps it’s the two of them finding each other and connecting in a non romantic but still profound way that worked for me. Or perhaps it’s her odd-but-right-feeling mix of old soul-not quite that did it?

Excellent read, this one…

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