A book without a page. That’s what the story is with Wherever You Go by Heather Davis. I got an ARC of this, and it’s not part of a series. So, it’s a little different then the books I typically share information about here. And it will not get a separate page of it’s own since there’s no series to go with. But it was good, and I enjoyed it. So, I will tell you a little about it – without any real spoilers (ok, the review is a little spoiler-ish, but no big ones are revealed), since (1) it’s not published yet and (2) it’s not in a series where we need the spoilery info for later.
It was… not what I expected.
The story is primarily Holly’s. She lost her boyfriend Rob in a car crash and she’s trying to get over it. She was in the car as well and she survived. She and her mother and sister live in a small apartment in Seattle, when her grandfather, Aldo, comes to live with them. His Alzheimer’s has gotten so bad that he can not live alone anymore. And Holly is left as the primary care giver to her grandfather and her younger sister while her mom works to support the family. Jason, one of Rob’s best friends, likes Holly. And he tries to find a way to convince her that she should give him a chance. All the while, Rob is a ghost, watching it all. And he discovers he can communicate with Aldo.
I expected much more of a supernatural element. If that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t it. While we have Rob’s ghost, what we see of him is not really him haunting Holly. He haunts Aldo, Holly’s grandfather but not really in a “haunting way”. Rob and Aldo try to help each other through the problems they are having. Namely, Rob’s inability to “cross over” into the light and Aldo’s disease.The notion that Holly has to be the one to keep things together at home while mom works to support them was heartbreaking. While I am sure there are lots of teens in the same situation, it was hard to read. The conflict between Holly and her mom was natural as a result – it was only a matter of time before Holly tried to get at a tiny bit of her life, but Holly’s mom, as a character, was one of the issues I had with the book. She contradicts herself, doesn’t listen, and is at times so in tune with the fact that Holly is sacrificing so much and then in the same breath is totally oblivious to why Holly would need to once in a while get a little freedom. And it seems to me like as a character she would be more believable if she wasn’t so contradictory.
I also would have liked to have seen more of how Holly goes from hating Jason to falling in love with him. Just a little. It felt like she hated him one minute then loved him the next. And given her struggles with having lost Rob, I would guess that wasn’t what the author intended.
The one other thing that made this book hard for me was the alternating perspectives. Not because of the changing perspectives, really, but because of the changing pronouns. And within the same chapter too (there are “separators” but it was still distracting). Couple that with the changing tenses when we have changing perspectives and it’s a little hard to read. Holly’s section read with “I” and the past tense, Rob’s sections read with “you” and the present tense and the other sections read in the third-person. I would have preferred for the author to have chosen one tense and/or one perspective. It would have been easier to read.
Now for the good stuff. Jason, Holly, Aldo and Lena were well developed and it was very easy to identify with them and feel for them. I don’t know much about Alzheimer’s but it was educating in a heart-breaking kind of way. The dialogue (with the exception of between Holly and her mom) was believable and kept the story moving. The love story was really about getting over loss and how it is possible to find love again. And that’s a great story to share.
I like the book, I just wish my expectations were different. This is not your typical YA/supernatural book, where the supernatural aspect creates or drives the conflict. Here, the conflict is really an internal one – Holly fighting and finding love. So, my biggest piece of advice would be to keep that in mind when picking this up. I think it will make the book more enjoyable if the reader’s expectations are set correctly.