If You Were Here by Jennie Yabroff

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

Pages: 272

Expected Publication January 2nd 2017 by Simon Pulse

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Is there a line between gifted and insane? How do you know if you’ve crossed it?

Tess was semi-successfully passing for normal before her mother’s erratic behavior turned her into social cyanide. Now life is only bearable thanks to weekend 16 Candles and Oreo binges with her best (and only) friend, Tabitha. Then Tabitha inexplicably drops Tess, leaving her alone with her fears about her mother and the troubling visions that leave her shaking with dread. Before Tess can come to terms with this loss, a horrific tragedy occurs at school, and everyone is blaming her. Now, Tess must find answers, fast: What really happened that night at school? Is she responsible? And do her visions mean she has a gift of prophecy, or the same mental illness
that is stealing her mom?


My Thoughts

This was not an easy read nor was it a light one. This was a heavy, dark story that reflects the difficulties teens face in the complex hierarchal society of high school. This read had me fascinated as well as horrified within the first few pages, and admittedly I teared up more than a few times.

Tess was never popular, yet she had never been an outcast either, but when her mother’s depressions takes a turn for the worse, as in, she shows up at school sobbing and embarrassing her daughter, Tess quickly falls from the grace of popularity and becomes as pariah – and known as a freak, especially when for some unknown reason a swatch of hair turns grey on her head. However, it is during this time that she meets a solid, good friend, Tabitha – the quirky, spazzy, friendly girl and so it went for a few years. But things change and so do people. Tabitha wanted more for herself, she wanted to be popular.

Not going to lie, when I started to read this book I was hooked. I wasn’t overly invested in the characters, because to me they were a little flat and in Tess’ case [and perhaps the point of it,] she was unlikable. But she faced real challenges and was flawed. She was an angry sixteen-year-old, bullied and cast aside. I could relate to the general topic though, wanting to be popular or at least not bullied or looked down on.

I wanted to experience the cliquey society Yabroff depicted and she didn’t disappoint. It was a gritty chick-eat-chick world and sadly reflects the cruelties of such a society.

The overall story was interesting, is Tess gifted, insane, is she part of the tragedy that surrounded her best friend, Tabitha? Maybe she’s following in her mother’s footsteps. Whatever it is, this gift haunts Tess but she grows with it over the course of the book. It isn’t a gift in the supernatural sense, so don’t expect that – and it doesn’t really go into explaining as to why there may be more with gifts – it’s one of those things you just have to nod your head and accept. It just is.

There are many difficult topics that were tackled, peer pressure, bullying, acceptance, depression… Honestly, this was a good read, difficult but a good read.

What is the heaviest book you have read? Emotionally, mentally?



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