Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Release Day Launch: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (Review + Excerpt + Giveaway)

When You Were Here
When You Were Here

Author: Daisy Whitney
Genre: YA/NA realistic fiction and romance
Publication Date: June 4th

A eARC was provided by the publisher for the blog tour. Thank you so much!!
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

This review is going to be very hard to write for me. This book was so complicated and different that I find it difficult to gather my thoughts about it... I will try my best, though!

This book tells the story of Danny, an 18-year-old guy that lost everyone he loves. His father died in a car accident 6 years ago, his adopted older sister left for China and never came back, his girlfriend dumped him last summer and now him mother died after a long fight with cancer.

The beginning of the book describes Danny's loneliness and desperation. It was really hard for me to picture his situation because it was so terrible. He was all alone in the world and people talked to him only because they pitied him. At the beginning Danny acted all carefree, as if he had nothing in the world to live for. He hit cars by purpose, acted in a very unfriendly way near his friends, insulted his ex-girlfriend and had a romance with an adult... I tried to feel sympathy for him but I just couldn't because of his terrible behavior. That's why I almost DNFed the book in the first 10%, he was that hard to relate to.

Danny lives like that for a while, without having any idea of what to do with his life. And then he gets a letter in the mail from Japan regarding to his mother's apartment there, and he buys a one-way ticket to Tokyo.
That's when the story started to get interesting. I just loved reading about Japan, it's my biggest dream to travel there. Everything about Tokyo is so different from here - the people are different, the language, the fashion, the manners, the mentality. It was so SO interesting and exciting to read about Danny's trips in Tokyo and about the people he met.

Danny meets Kana, a Japanese girl that I just loved from the beginning. She was all happy and optimistic, always looking at the bright side of things. Without really meaning to, she helped Danny get out of his depression and misery and become happy all over again. Kana did only what she wanted and wasn't the typical traditional Japanese girl. She was always considered to be a freak in the society but she didn't let it affect her. The opposite, she had dreams to explore the whole world and to succeed in life her own way. I just adored her and she was a great addition to the book.

The distance from his home, together with Kana's support, really changed Danny and I started to like him and to understand him much better and really care about his feelings. And that's when he found out about a terrible secret that was hidden from him this past year, something so shocking and utterly stunning that I almost dropped my Kindle while reading it. I really didn't see that coming. And I almost cried... He's such a poor boy!!

All the characters in this book were very well built, deep and realistic. The all had a difficult past, like people in real life and they all had a strong personality. Danny's voice was very sincere and I could see how smart he was and how he understood everything around him so well. That was very unlike other male POVs I've read it the past and that was very refreshing.
Danny's ex-girlfriend, Holland (I loved her name) played a major part of the story and I really liked her too. At the beginning I couldn't understand her behavior, but as the book progressed and I read more about her past with Danny and about her secrets and personality I started to really like her. She was the perfect match for Danny.
Danny's mom appeared in the book only in Danny's memories and that was enough for me to like her too. She was a brave woman that was happy all the time, even when she was dying. She was a great mother and it was really heartbreaking to see what Danny has lost.

This book was a very emotional and deep read, but it ended in an optimistic way that left me with a big smile. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a well-written, moving story with great characters and a beautiful setting.

Summary (I saw people doing it on other blogs and I liked the idea):

  • A beautiful setting - most of it is set in Japan.
  • Great development of the main character
  • Interesting and smart male voice
  • Deep, well-built supporting characters.
  • Optimistic ending.

  • The main character was annoying in the beginning.
  • It was a bit hard to get into the book


We eat in silence for a minute, then Holland breaks it. “So you’re
going to Tokyo?”
“Your mom told you?” “Yes.” “Did your mom send you to get info out of me or
something?” “No. She mentioned it, and now I’m mentioning it.
Why? Is there info to get? Are you going with a girl?” I scoff. “Yeah,
right. I was supposed to go with some- one, but it didn’t work out,” I
say, my eyes locked on her
the whole time. “Well, I wanted to go, okay?” “So did I,” I say, so
low it’s a whisper. But she hears me,
and she inches her hand across the counter, just a little bit closer,
and that hand, I want to grab it and hold on.
“Me too,” she says, barely there, barely painting the space between us
with all that has been broken.
I glance at our hands, so close all it would take is one of us giving an inch.
“I bought my ticket an hour ago.”
“When do you leave?”
 “A couple days from now. I found a good deal.” She nods a few times,
taps her fingers. I can feel the
warmth from her hands. “Cool,” she says, and we stay like that. One
stretch is all it would take to be back, so I wait. Wait for her to
tell me she’ll miss me, to ask me to stay, to put her hands on my face
and press her lips against mine and kiss me like it’s the thing that’s
been killing her not to do for all these months. That it’s not cool
for me to go. That if I go, she’ll be the one who’s sad.
But she doesn’t. We just finish our food, and she washes the plates,
and the other ones that were in the sink too, and she tosses out the
cartons from Captain Wong’s and bags up the garbage, and she’s like a
nurse. She’s here as a nurse. To take care of me. To make sure I eat
enough food and clean the house and take my vitamins.
I watch her take my vitals and check my temperature and adjust the
tubes, and when she suggests we watch a movie, here on the couch, I
just nod because my heart isn’t beating fast enough anymore, blood
isn’t pumping smoothly enough anymore for me to find the will to say
no like I did last night. Evidently I can buy tickets to fly out of
the coun-
try, no problem, but I can’t even tell Holland to stop being so near
to me all the time but not near enough.
Because she is supposed to want to go to Tokyo with me now. She is
supposed to invite herself, to ask me in that sweet and sexy, that
bold and confident voice, to say that I should take her along, that we
promised we’d go together, that we even talked about it last summer.
As if I needed reminding. As if I were the one who’d forgotten.
Instead she turns on the TV and finds a film where the hero survives a
bridge being blown up. We stay like that through fire and bombs,
through fists and blows, through a knife fight in an alley, a foot
away from each other, not touching, not moving, not talking, not
curled up together, just staring mutely at the screen.
But faking it becomes too much for me, so when the hero clutches the
crumbling concrete from the bridge, scram- bling for purchase, I stand
up and leave the living room, mumbling, “Be right back.”
I walk to the bathroom at the end of the hall. I shut the door. I head
straight for the window. I slide it open and pop out the screen. I
stand on the toilet seat, then climb the rest of the way out of the
window and hop into my front yard. I close the window, and I walk and
I walk and I walk.
When I return an hour later, my greatest hope is she’ll be gone. My
most fervent wish is that I will have made my great escape from her,
from her hold on me. But instead I
find her sound asleep on my couch, Sandy Koufax tucked tightly into a
ball at Holland’s bare feet.
I kneel down on the tiles where the book she was read- ing has slipped
out of her tired hands. It’s a paperback, The Big Sleep. I run a thumb
across the cover, wondering when Holland developed a penchant for
Raymond Chandler. There was a time when she would have told me her
favorite parts. When she would have tried to tell me the ending
because she just loved it so much, she had to share, and I’d have held
up a hand and told her to stop. Laughing all the time. Then I’d have
read it too, and we’d have walked on the beach and talked about the
best parts. We’d have done that tonight with the movie too. Imitated
the actors’ inflections at their most over-the-top moments, then
marveled at the blown-up buildings.
I shut the book we’re not sharing. The ending we’re not talking about.
I place it on the coffee table and walk upstairs, because if I stay
near her, I will wake her up, rus- tle a shoulder, and ask her. Ask
her why she left. Ask her why she’s here. Ask her what changed for
When I get into my bed, I am keenly aware of her in my house, as if
the rising and falling of her breathing, the flut- tering of her
sleeping eyelids, can somehow be seen and heard from a floor above. I
imagine her waking up, walking up the stairs, heading down the hall,
standing in my door- way, a sliver of moonlight through the window
sketching her in the dark. I would speak first, telling her the
truth—that I’m still totally in love with her. That nothing has
changed for me when it comes to her.
Everything else is so muted, so fuzzy, so frayed around the edges.
This—how I feel for Holland—is the only thing in my life that has
remained the same. Everyone I have loved is gone. Except her. Holland
is the before and the after, and the way I feel for her is both lethal
and beautiful. It is like breathing, like a heartbeat.
She would say the same words back to me, that she feels the same. Then
she would say my name, like she’s been searching for something, like
she’s found the thing she’s been looking for.
Come find me, come find me, come find me.



  1. You were right, this is your best review. You really got into detail which I must commend you for because it's something I lack in my reviews. I hate when I can't relate to the main character, it's a huge off-turn for me so I'm glad he could gather his senses. Kana seems like a character that I would love! Awesome Review :)

    1. Thank you so much Sunny!!
      Yeah, the main character was a turn off in the beginning, but he got much better by the middle of the book.

  2. Wow, you weren't exaggerating when you said this is your best review. This is the kind of book I would like, as I love emotional books. Terrific review, Sapir!

    1. Thanks Summer!! <3
      I'm sure you'll love it if you're into emotional reads!!

  3. Wow fantastic review. This is definitely by far your best. I can't believe I've never been on your blog yet I talk to you all the time. It's SO pretty and I love the name.
    I will being keeping an eye on this...

    1. Thanks Francois!!! I've never been to yours too. I'm going to fix this now XP

  4. Yes! I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, and I love that you understood and felt for Holland, as well! I think she was my favourite character, simply because of the sheer transformation she underwent and how she changed Danny, as well. Brilliant review!

    1. Thanks!! Holland was really a great character (:

  5. I LOVE Japan too! I haven't read many books set in that country but this one seems like an amazing read! Sometimes main characters are so annoying and broken in the beginning but what I really like is reading those characters grow throughout the book. The character development in this book sounds superb. :)

    1. Yeah, that's exactly how Danny was. He was very broken in the beginning, but he grew and changed during the book and in the end he was truly likable.
      Thanks for stopping by Kezia!

  6. I need to read this book! Stories that take place in different countries always get me. I also love male povs. I can't wait to discover Danny slowly and find out what's going on with him.