You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Simon & Schuster in April 2012
Emma and her neighbor Peter are both lonely in a way that only bothers them on occasion. They both come from families they don’t quite understand. They both feel like something big is missing from their lives—and they’re both about to search for answers. When Emma makes a discovery that shakes the foundations of her identity, she convinces Peter to join her for a road trip. Each of them has something to find: For Emma, it is a grave—a grave that may be her only connection to her family. Peter is seeking something harder to define, but perhaps easier to navigate—a freedom, a sense of something more than what he has. Together, they take to the open road, engaging in a universal quest to make sense of who they are and where they come from…and learning a thing or two about love along the way.Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Ames: I was pleasantly surprised by You Are Here. I enjoy road trip novels and I thought this one was cute. What did you think?
Wena: Like you, I love road trip books and while I enjoyed this one, it wasn’t my favorite road trip book. For me, it was hard to connect with Emma. I kept reading through the book and wanting to come to like her but I just couldn’t. Now, Peter? I connected the hell out of him. This story moved because of Peter’s story. He was such an interesting character.
Ames: I know what you're saying about Emma...but I felt like there was enough growth with her character at the end that I was pleased with the story. When she realized how bad of a friend she was to Peter? I like that she saw that and changed it.
Peter I liked too. He was an interesting character. I liked his love of maps and geography and civil war battlefields.
Both Peter and Emma had to deal with the loss of a family member. Peter's mom from when he was born and Emma just figuring out that she was a twin. But it was an interesting set up because of the parallels in their families. For Peter it was just him and his dad and his dad refused to talk about stuff. For Emma, she had her parents and 3 older siblings who never even mentioned the twin. I could see how hard it was for them to try and get their family to open up. But I do have to say that Peter's situation broke my heart. And I cried when Emma finally talked to her mom. I loved her brother for asking her to get that salad bowl. Awww.
Wena: That was my exact problem with Emma. She was really selfish in the way that she thought, the way that she acted and Peter deserved so much more than the kind of friendship that Emma gave him. I don’t know, after that kiss attempt when they were camping, my heart completely broke for Peter (I cried) because it really sucks to like someone that doesn’t like you back and Peter, for as great a guy that he was, I wanted more for him then…Emma. And that’s not the usual reaction that I have for the main character of the book.
I do agree with you that over the course of the book, Emma starts to change for the better and it was good to see it but I guess, for me anyway, that I spent so much time being annoyed with her that a part of that annoyance never went away. It’s stupid but there it is.
What were your favorite parts of the book?
Ames: Oh I wanted to shake both of them when he kissed her! LOL Peter for just going along with Emma's reaction and then Emma for not doing anything. Just a complete shutdown. (But hey, she comes by that naturally, with her family.)
I did like how Emma brought her family together at the end. I felt bad for her, the way she felt like the odd duck out with all the intellectuals around her and then having older siblings who were off living their own lives already.
My favorite parts were with the hitchhiker they picked up. I wasn't expecting that and I thought he was a cute character. When Peter fell asleep at that battlefield in Tennessee and the cops were there when he woke up. The way Emma got them out of that other interaction with the cop and then at the end, when I cried when Emma found that box and photo album.
What about you?
Wena: I really liked when they first got to Gettysburg and the way that Peter was when they got there. The way that he knew the timeline and history of the entire place, the way that he was so happy to be there. How in awe he was to be there. I really liked that.
I also liked that scene at the end when Nate sends Emma down to the basement to get that damn salad bowl and she finds the photo albums. I thought it was a sweet scene and it was good to see Emma’s family be the kind of family that she’s always wanted.
I also liked the scene when Annie and Emma have it out when Emma finally gets to Annie’s house and the boys find them in the kitchen are unsure how to handle the situation.
There were a lot of scenes that I liked and my only complaint was that misconnect with Emma. I just couldn’t get there with her and I wanted to. Oh, well.
Ames: Those are all good scenes. I liked the one with Annie in the kitchen too.
That's too bad you didn't connect with Emma.
Wena: I mean, this was a solid story but because of my disconnect with Emma, I didn’t enjoy the book nearly as much as I’ve liked our other books. Peter’s journey through this book was more interesting to me and I was bummed that we didn’t get enough of it, at least for me. So, I’d give this book a C.
Ames: I'm going to give this book a B. I liked the growth I saw in Emma's character and there was so much going for this book, the cute hitchhiker, Peter's whole gig and then it made me cry. I liked it. :)
And Wena and I had an idea to tell you what our next book is going to be. So if you want to discuss it with us, you'll be prepared. :P Our pick for May is going to be Abbi Glines' Fallen Too Far.