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.
(re: Goodreads @ When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney)
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
- Predominately takes place in Japan and exposes its culture.
- Male perspective on grieving losses, optimism, and discovering the nature of life and love.
- Some characters are refreshing, others are one dimensional, but they’re all interwoven and linked to some degree.
This book was suggested to me by Savindi.
I had a brief moment after I read the synopsis: could it be that Daniel Kellerman will redeem the name “Daniel/Danny” after my experience with Daniel Kelly (re: Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas)? It’s totally not a coincidence that their names are practically identical right? Twins in another life, maybe. This is a young-adult contemporary about grieving death and meandering through clouded vision of acceptance and finding a way to move on. It has the inner workings to be one of those heart wrenching discovery reads where streams of figurative (or physical) tears eventually flow out of your sockets. But it didn’t get to that point for me.
Let me regale you with my grief:
Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.