Book Review: WE WERE HERE by Matt de la Peña

Photo credit: Goodreads
Wow. So I’m not really sure where to start with this one, so I guess I’ll start where I always start, with the Goodreads summary: 
“The story of one boy and his journey to find himself. 
When it happened, Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge gave him a year in a group home—said he had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he actually did Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened, his mom can’t even look at him in the face. Any home besides his would be a better place to live. 
But Miguel didn’t bet on meeting Rondell or Mong or on any of what happened after they broke out. He only thought about Mexico and getting to the border to where he could start over. Forget his mom. Forget his brother. Forget himself. 
Life usually doesn’t work out how you think it will, though. And most of the time, running away is the quickest path right back to what you’re running from.”
I have to say, We Were Here by Matt de la Peña has to be one of the rawest books I’ve read in a while—and I loved it. Miguel’s voice comes through so clear, and it’s so different from any other YA voice I’ve read, and it really fits the tone of the novel perfectly

I’m going to give an example because I love it that much: 
“You know how when you’re a kid and you get a new bad-ass rubber football for Christmas, and the morning it takes a few minutes to remember why you’re so excited? It’s like that for me, only the opposite. When I wake up, everything’s normal for a while. I’m just plain Miguel. And then suddenly it hits me what I did. It punches me right in the ribs. It screams in my ears how everything isn’t normal anymore, it’s fucked.” —pg. 125.
I mean, wow, right? 

We Were Here is written in a journal-like format, but Miguel makes a point of saying he’s not going to talk about feelings, he’s going to write exactly what happens to him. And so we learn about Mong and Rondell (who, I have to say, are extraordinarily memorable and interesting side characters), and how he ends up on the run, and the events that unfold as he and the guys are trying to get to Mexico, and the pacing is so on point—I was totally hooked from the beginning. Which is pretty great, because I don’t usually like diary/journal entry-type formats. 

I could ramble about the many things I enjoyed about this book, but instead I’m going to recommend you guys check out this fabulous YA read for an example of incredible, raw voice alone (though that’s not the only thing to praise). I really enjoyed it, and I’m rating it a five out of five. 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae gives 5/5 stars to WE WERE HERE by @mattdelapena. Have you read this raw YA Contemporary? (Click to tweet)  
Looking for a gritty YA read w/ great pacing & memorable characters? Try WE WERE HERE by @mattdelapena. (Click to tweet)


Ava Jae said...

Yes, I did mention in the update at the bottom of the post that while Windows doesn't have the full functionality shown above, it DOES have a project target section that allows you to set a word goal. So everything before Step 3 works in Windows.

Sean Worth said...

Great article! I love Scrivener. It has made a huge impact in my writing, as well as my organization and planning. Can't believe I've overlooked this feature!

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Sean! I love Scrivener, too, and this feature is one of my favorites. :) Happy writing!

Heidi Conroy said...

Great article. I adore Scrivener and use it for everything now - blog posts, academic writing, fiction, articles, the lot. I recommend it to students too - far more of their essays would be better written if they used Scrivener!
Thanks for pointing out this feature - now I can add this in and see how close I am to my goal - great motivation.

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Heidi! I'm weird and I still use three different word processors (for some reason I'm addicted to using Pages for blog posts? I don't know), but as far as drafting needs (and initial revision needs) go, I'm 100% Scrivener. Best writing software purchase I've ever made, and this feature is one of my faves. :)

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