Monday, June 6, 2011

ARC Review: WHEREVER YOU GO

The Book: WHEREVER YOU GO
The Author: Heather Davis
The Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Release Date: November 14, 2011

Summary:
Six months ago, Holly Mullen barely walked away from the car accident that claimed her boyfriend's life.  Since then, she's withdrawn from everyone and everything around her.  Her feelings of loss and loneliness are compounded not only by the responsibility of caring for her younger sister and Alzheimer's riddled grandfather but also the burden of guilt Rob's friends push on her. 

For some reason, Rob hasn't moved on yet, and he spends his invisible, lonely existence following around those he loved most.  This all changes when Holly's grandfather comes to live with her and her family.  Trapped in the later stages of Alzheimer's, Aldo has to fight through a thick veil of fog surrounding his brain just to make himself clear to his family, but through the veil, he sees, hears, and talks to Rob with no difficulty.  Thus begins the unlikely friendship of a not-quite-altogether-there man and the ghost who loves his granddaughter.

Only Rob's best friend, Jason, doesn't blame Holly for Rob's untimely demise.  In fact, he harbors a little guilt for his friend's death himself, and being around Holly makes him feel closer to Rob.  But, the more time he spends with her, the less he sees her as his best friend's girl and begins to see her as just a girl...a girl he happens to care for tremendously.  And, Holly starts to feel the same way, all the while trying to hold onto the memory of the first boy she ever loved.

My Opinion:
If you enjoy heart-wrenching tales of love, loss, and letting go, this is the story for you.  Told in alternating perspectives between Holly, Jason, and Rob, the reader gets a great look at how each is feeling in the aftermath of the accident that took Rob's life, and how each experienced that night.  I have to admit that I figured out what really happened that night within the first fifty pages, but my 'knowing' the twist didn't detract from the power of the ending.  I was quite a bit misty-eyed.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the characters.  Most all of the major players were well fleshed-out.  I felt Rob's frustration in being a ghost who just wanted to say goodbye to his girlfriend who didn't even know he was there.  I felt Jason's guilt over Rob's death, his longing for Holly, and his basic good-guy-ed-ness (why yes, I did just make up that word).  I loved Aldo, his moments of lucidity, his remembrance list, his frank way of speaking to 'Roberto' and his feelings of helplessness at not being able to communicate with his family.  And, Holly...well, my heart just bled for Holly.  She more than anyone deserved a little bit of break and until the end, she just didn't seem to get her chance to breathe.  It was like the walls of her life were just crashing down on top of her, burying her alive.

The thing I least enjoyed about this book was the lack of help Holly got from her own mother.  I mean, Holly's boyfriend DIED and instead of being there for her daughter, Julia just adds more and more onto her plate.  Oh, you're upset about Rob dying? Watch your little sister.  Oh, you're feeling guilty about falling for his best friend? Let me bring in your sick grandfather who you must take care of ALL THE TIME!  At first, the absentee/irresponsible parent thing in YA books didn't bother me all that much, but I guess I'm just over it now, and so in this book, it really irritated me.  But, this is only my opinion and even though it annoyed me, it didn't take that much away from the book.  It just made me cheer that much harder for Holly.

Even with that one complaint, I would definitely recommend this book to any YA-er who enjoys emotionally charged tales with a ghostly twist.  But make sure you have tissue or two handy to mop up your face afterwards.  :)