You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz
Annaleah and Brian shared something special - Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn't need anyone else. It didn't matter that their relationship was secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other.
And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have?
You Are Not Here was a stunning novel filled with heartbreakingly beautiful passages and stunning writing. This book tugged at my heartstrings time and time again and I found myself lost in Annaleah’s world over the course of a few hours. Samantha Schutz has written a fantastic verse novel that I know I won’t soon forget.
Annaleah loved her boyfriend Brian and she felt they had something one-of-a-kind. Their relationship was kept a secret from their families and friends and Annaleah didn’t mind. As long as she was with Brian everything was okay. But then tragedy strikes and suddenly Annaleah finds herself struggling to keep herself together. She is alone with her grief because not even her mother knew about Brian. It was heartbreaking to watch Annaleah spiral deeper and deeper into her grief and remorse. Her feelings for Brian were clear and it is so scary to think someone so young and vibrant could be there one second and gone the next. As you get deeper into Annaleah’s story you realize that Brian may not have been all Annaleah felt he was and she learns a lot more about him as the novel progresses.
I think my favorite aspect of You Are Not Here is the writing. It was so beautiful and well done, certain pages just made me so emotional. I have never experienced the kind of loss Annaleah had, thankfully, and it made it that much harder to watch her recover from Brian’s death and all that comes after. Even when some of her friends, who were very interesting secondary characters, try and help her she resists. There were quite a few intriguing side characters that played a role in the book and each of them had some impact on Annaleah’s life. In addition to recovering from the loss of Brian, Annaleah also thinks of what could have been if her father hadn’t left.
Quite a few young adult novels deal with death/loss and the recovery process, but none, in my opinion, quite like Samantha Schutz did with You Are Not Here. The verse format was perfect for this novel and it really helped the emotions come through on every page. This was a quick read, but it packed a punch.
I don’t want to spoil anything about the ending, but it was certainly satisfying. You Are Not Here is a book I wish wasn’t so overlooked because it contains an important theme and will resonate with many readers. Annaleah is a character I felt for from the start and I did like her friends quite a bit. All in all, I do recommend picking this up. I feel that everyone will take at least a small something away from it and I am looking forward to reading more by Schutz in the future.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
October 1, 2010/Scholastic/292 Pages/Young Adult