Goodreads: 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.
Ope’s Opinion: This is a hard review to write. I started out feeling this book was depressing – considering the subject, I wasn’t surprised. I kept reading – the pace was steady and slow for a while. Halfway through a major secret was revealed – from that point on, I couldn’t put the book down. It sped to the end.
I am not sure how to express my journey through this book. I have so many contradictory thoughts.
On the negative side – it began too slow, the mother going back and forth to Tokyo without Danny felt unrealistic, the mother kept secrets, Danny living in the house after his mother died without an adult present.
On the positive side – Danny’s quest to know how his mother was towards the end of her life, how some of the secrets came out, and the ending.
Overall, I am just not sure about this book.