I was surprised by how much I liked Danny as a narrator. At the beginning, he’s quite angry, and while I understand why, it’s hard to sympathize with someone who can do things like hit cars and get away with it because the insurance and money can just take care of it all. At the beginning of the story, Danny is parent-less soon after turning eighteen, legally an adult, but because of his family’s moderate wealth he doesn’t have to worry about the type of things a lot of teenagers in his situation would. I thought this would alienate me from the story, but this plot line is handled well. Danny realizes his unique position, even when he’s being a jerk at times, so while I can’t say I always liked him, I definitely felt him.
And as the story went on, I did grow to like Danny a lot. I felt a lot of his pain in my own experience, and I understood the feeling of wanting to get away. I liked that there was actually a reason for Danny to go to Japan–it was impulsive, yes, but it had a reasoning behind it. And I really loved the Japan setting. Whitney really utilized the setting of most of this book to it’s fullest potential.
This book was just filled with little things that made me love it even more. When You Were Here just had such heart behind it, which is the kind of thing that’s hard to pinpoint in books but also can really make a book special. Once again, the setting was so well-done, and I loved the mutual friendship in this book. Also, Sandy Koufax, the dog in this book, just made me so happy. I love when main characters are pet owners.
As much as I loved this book, there was one subplot I thought really distracted from the main story. It deals with Holland, Danny’s ex-girlfriend, who comes back into his life after his mother dies. Throughout the book, Danny learns the truth, and why I understand why this subplot was included, I just felt it wrapped up too quickly and either needed to be completely cut or explored better. There’s more to the story than that, but it’s quite spoilery.