Goodreads synopsis: Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before. Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can’t ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
Mystery, romance, drama, string theory: Denise Grover Swank’s Here has them all. I have to admit to two things. First, I spent the first several chapters of this book trying to figure our what the heck was going on. This isn’t a bad thing, I was just as caught up in the craziness and weird coincidences as Julia. Second, from his first appearance in the book to the very last page, I do not like nor do I trust Evan. I just had to throw that out there.
The great thing about Here is that it’s at once familiar and entirely fantastical. You’ll recognize the mean high school girls, the loner, the smug jock, and the cute but weird tech geek. But none of these people are who you expect them to be nor are their motivations always predictable.
The story begins with a chapter describing a nuclear attack in the 1960s and quickly segues to a high school classroom in 2011 where the class is discussing the Cuban missile crisis. We meet Julia, who is coping with the guilt of having been the driver in an accident that killed her best friend. It’s clear that Julia wasn’t the most popular kid in school prior to this and the accident has made her even less so. Oddly, the handsome Evan Whittaker has been paying extra attention to her, much to the dismay of the popular girls. Julia doesn’t trust Evan’s attentions at first (and rightly so, he comes on pretty strong–like, Edward Cullen strong) but is drawn to him by some force she can’t explain.
Adding to the turmoil and confusion is a tumultuous home life–Julia’s parents are teetering on the brink of divorce, her panic attacks are becoming more frequent, she keeps having weird moments of deja vu. Things turn from hot to cold with Evan very suddenly and Julia finds herself facing the prospect of expulsion. And just when it seems like her life couldn’t get any more complicated–it does.
To say that Here is a wild ride down a rabbit hold would be an understatement. Through Julia’s narration, we feel all the dispair and hope and turmoil as she does. This is a great puzzle of a story and ended up taking some unexpected turns. Nuanced characters–each perfectly flawed–keep the tale rooted in reality even when it takes a turn wildly left of real. This was a roller-coaster of read for sure!
And, lucky you–Denise Grover Swank is giving away an e-copy of Here as part of the book tour. All you have to do is follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below.
Here is getting tons of great reviews–check out the other bloggers participating in the tour for interviews, excerpts, and more: A Tale of Many Reviews HERE blog tour schedule
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review (check out my review policy page for more details)