T is Tokyo in When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (book review) – love, loss, secrets

book cover of When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney published by Little Brown Books For Young ReadersEmpty home,
full medicine bottles,
not enough information!

Did Mom’s doctor in Japan convince her to stop taking traditional cancer treatments? Why else would she have died just weeks before Danny’s graduation, her big goal during her five year fight?

Kana is like a big sister to Danny in Tokyo as they visit the clinics and temples that Mom frequented. If only he could figure out what went wrong between him and love of his life Holland, who now wears a necklace honoring Sarah, her friend who died at college…

“All the things my mom will never see and never know flash before me. She will never know what I will study in college, who I’ll marry… She will never learn golf or qualify for a senior discount at the movies. She will never grow old,” Danny muses. (p. 206)

Find When You Were Here  at your local library or independent bookstore, and walk Tokyo’s busy streets with Danny as he tries reclaim the joy that his mom found in her too-short life. (paperback comes out June 24, 2014)


Book info: When You Were Here / Daisy Whitney. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013 (paperback June 2014).  [author’s Twitter]  [publisher site]  [author in Tokyo videos] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Bereft and angry, Danny travels to Tokyo after graduation, trying to discover why his mom gave up fighting her cancer just two months short of their shared goal.

Even though she was a year older, Holland was perfect for Danny, but when she left for college last fall, she broke up with him, never giving a reason.

His parents did business in Japan, Danny was born there, his dad died suddenly there six years ago. His mom spent her final cancer treatment time there, before returning home to enjoy the last days of her life.

When the young woman who helped his mom in Tokyo asks Danny what’s to be done about Mom’s apartment there, he decides to leave the empty, memory-filled California house (and not-girlfriend-now Holland, home from college) to spend time in Japan and find out what changed his mother’s mind about holding on until he graduated.

Secrets are powerful. Death is inevitable, but perhaps love and hope are possible in this strongly emotional novel where an unconventional Japanese girl and the scent of lilacs help an angry young man search for answers. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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