Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review by Alex- You Are Here

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

Emma Healy has never fit in with the rest of her family. She's grown used to being the only ordinary one among her rather extraordinary parents and siblings. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she feels like a part of her has been justified in never feeling quite whole. Suddenly it seems important to visit his grave, to set off in search of her missing half. When her next-door neighbor Peter Finnegan -- who has a quiet affinity for maps and a desperate wish to escape their small town -- ends up coming along for the ride, Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common. But as they head from upstate New York toward North Carolina, driving a beat-up and technically stolen car and picking up a stray dog along the way, they find themselves learning more and more about each other. Neither is exactly sure what they're looking for, but with each passing mile, each new day of this journey, they seem to be getting much closer to finding it.

You Are Here is Smith's second novel, the first being The Comeback Season, which I read last year and adored. You Are Here is interesting and heartfelt, with real and quirky characters.

The characters are well done and lovable for all their flaws. The main characters, Emma and Peter are both loners, neither having any true friends. Emma has a very intellectual family, and she's not into academics. She's very moody and detached from the world, often daydreaming. She's very self-absorbed, but also completely fascinating. Peter is very awkward and nerdy, in love with the civil war and maps. They seem like an odd pair, but they work.

I'm not too sure why Peter stuck through all of Emma's mood swings, but he somehow did. He's awfully meek and so of course Emma can easily manipulate. It doesn't help that he's hopelessly in love with her.

I loved the writing. Reading through it is a bit like trekking through a few feet of snow right after a snow storm. You have to stop to gaze at it's beauty now and then. Although it can be tough to get through at times, it's ultimately worth it. It wasn't something I could read while out or not concentrating on. But I sped through the second half one late night when I couldn't sleep. It's absorbing.

While reading however, I kept thinking that these kids are only 16. That's only a year older than me and it seems. They're driving, going on a road trip across states, and they're 16. So young! I can't fathom driving let alone taking a long road trip. :/

I also don't really understand the deal with Emma's brother. I don't know how he died, or why Emma hadn't heard of him- I mean, where did he go? Did I completely miss a part where they talk about what happened to him? If so, can someone tell me? Because I really am wondering.

A road trip to go on a journey of self-discovery is a bit overused and not all that original, but it is very well done in You Are Here. Some parts are a little slow, but one can't help rooting for Peter and Emma throughout. The ending's incredibly cute and happy. Maybe a little too happy, but still, I was satisfied.

I debated between 4 and 5 shelves, but decided to go round it up. Maybe I should make half shelves?


  1. This book sounds really cute. It's not something I would read, since I like a lot of suspense, but it sounds like a really cute story.


  2. Great review! I've been thinking about reading this one for a while!

  3. This sounds great! I love odd pairings of characters in novels, they often are the most interesting and realistic.

  4. Hi! im new to your blog and i love it!! so adorable!! Anyways im reading this right now and agree with you!! haha! cant wait to finish!! Thanks for the review


    p.s.-check out my blog


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