Rummanah Aasi
  Many thanks to the Teen Book Scene for allowing me to participate in the Wherever You Go book tour. I would also like to thank Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read the book.

Description: Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend?
     As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side?

Review: Wherever You Go is a brilliantly crafted novel that seamlessly blends contemporary fiction with a dash of the supernatural. This quiet book pulled on my heart strings right away and didn't let go. I became so invested in Holly's, Rob's, and Jason's lives that I couldn't stop reading. The character were honest and their problems were authentic.
  I instantly connected to Holly. She is a mature teen who is struggling and desperately trying to hold her family together. Holly comes from a single family home where her mother works two jobs just trying to make ends meet. Unlike many teen protagonists in YA, Holly's world doesn't just revolve around her. She has to take care of her little sister and grandfather with Alzheimers. She puts their needs ahead of hers. She has to stay strong for family and for herself because if she doesn't everything will fall apart just like her relationship with her now dead boyfriend Rob. The only way Holly seems to cope with her grief is to keep moving until she meets Jason who puts her needs above all others. 
  Jason is a shy and quiet guy whom I loved right away.  Like Holly, he is still hurting from Rob's death. Jason has been Rob's best friend since elementary school and Rob's death has definitely caught him off guard. Jason has always felt something for Holly. He has noticed her before she started dating Rob, but he never acted upon it. His guilt in ignoring Holly after Rob's death and his new intense feelings for her propels him to establish a connection with her. Jason's intentions are genuine and considerate. He is able to see through Holly's "I'm fine" facade:

"Holly, I see you working so hard to be strong. So hard to keep everything together. To not fall apart. But that's not your job." My throat tightened. "I have to keep things together," I said, my voice barely a whisper. If I didn't keep things together, nobody would. That was the truth I didn't want to tell him. "I have to."

"Not around me," Jason said. "You don't have to be strong around me." I closed my eyes, not wanting to hear what he was saying. But then I felt his hand on my cheek, holding the side of my face. I opened my eyes to find him gazing at me, his eyes so sincere.  ~pgs. 105-106 from the ARC

  I loved the relationship between Jason and Holly. It was slow and sweet. Jason is very considerate and keeps his distance, offering his willingness to help Holly while yearning for the moment she will accept. For once we meet the non-stalkery love interest, even when things get bumpy for these two. Jason loves Holly for who she is and he helps her with her grandfather's bad moments. His gestures aren't overt, but attentive. If Adam Wilde from If Stay and Where She Went had a brother it would definitely be Jason. Seriously, this guy is one step from raising a boombox outside of Holly's window when their relationship is in trouble. It is through these interactions, Holly not only begins to return his feelings, but they both try to come to terms with and understand Rob's death. Davis could have easily created a love triangle, however, she thankfully avoids this overused plot device as she explores the voice of Rob and the mystery surrounding his death.
  Rob's voice was very sad and heart breaking to read. The second person narrative writing style in his point of view allows the reader to immediately feel his detachment and isolation. He seems perfect on the exterior, but we slowly learn that he was internally falling apart. Trapped as a ghost, he doesn't understand why he hasn't moved on and must watch his family and others attempt to move on with their lives. As we learn more clues about what happened on the day of the accident, we can't help but get frustrated with Rob as he does with himself, wishing he had made different choices. Rob's current situation is very closely mirrored to Holly's loveable Grandpa Aldo, which is why I found their relationship so strong and powerful even though they never really met in person. Though living, Grandpa Aldo also feels distant from his family, feels responsible for his family's burden, and feels frustrated to being unable to express himself. The ability to speak to Rob during his lucid moments makes the supernatural aspect of the novel plausible and not just another ghost story.
   While the book is told through Holly, Jason, and Rob's point of views, I didn't have any trouble in distinguishing their voices. The transition between their voices flowed very well. Some reviews have noted that the pacing of the book was slow, but I didn't feel like that at all. In fact, I zipped through the pages which for me is very hard to do when I read a digital advanced readers copy (I read on the computer and yet have to purchase on an e-reader. Hope to change that with this holiday season). Wherever You Go is a character driven novel that explores a variety of serious issues such as death, grief, forgiveness, of love lost, and of love found. Without ever being heavy handed, Davis allows her characters to breathe, grow naturally and come to their own realizations of their flaws and resolutions on their own. It ends on the perfect note and leaves you with the closure you have been hoping for since the beginning. I would highly recommend reading this emotionally poignant book. This is the first book I've read by Davis and now I have to look up and read her other ones.  

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and scenes of underage drinking that are important to the story. Recommended for strong Grade 7 readers and up.

If you like this book try: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, and I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Wow. A 5 from you is a must read Rummanah! I love that relationship in this one is slow and fits the circumstances, clearly after Rob's death the two of them wouldn't be instantly be in love, and there's nothing more fun for me than to read the slow progression from friends to something more:)

  2. Jenny: I loved this book! The scenes with Grandpa Aldo broke my heart into tiny little pieces. I can always tell if I love a book when I can't stop thinking or talking about it.

  3. I was already half in love with Jason when you first described him, then you added he could be Adam's brother, and I feel head over heels!

    I love this review! And now I'm off to add the book to my TBR!

  4. Missie: I'm almost positive that I'll be seeing Jason as one of your MBB posts. Just remember I met him first, k?

  5. Now, this is the type of contemporary that I love! Dark, pained and a moody - the trifecta. Plus, the relationships sound solid and real. Fabulous review, Rummanah :)

  6. I am always happy to see books with rave reviews. It makes me want to run over to Amazon and add this book to my wishlist!

  7. This sounds great! I was surprised to realize that this was paranormal because the cover looks very contemp fiction. It makes sense that it's a mix. And it's so nice to read about a slow, sweet romance. Doesn't happen often enough.

  8. Melissa: I would have no hesitation in recommending this one to anyone who loves contemporary reads.

    Deb: I can't help but gush about the book.

    Alison: I wasn't sure about the book from the description. I thought it was another ghost love story with a love triangle. I'm so glad to be proven wrong.

  9. Oh good, it's not only me who thought that Jason kind of seemed like Adam :) All the relationships were so well-done and incredibly realistic and like you, I breezed through this one on my laptop.

    I need to get an e-reader too. I'm thinking maybe a Kindle Fire once it gets available here.

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