Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wherever You Go, by Heather Davis- Review

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. But she 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, trying to get close to Holly—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it.

As their uncertain new relationship progresses, the past comes back to haunt Holly and Jason. Her Alzheimer’s-stricken 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?

I had no expectations when I picked up Wherever You Go, though I thought it was a good sign that Laini Taylor had such a glowing blurb on the cover.  I was happily surprised by how gripping this quiet read about love, loss and self worth was.

Wherever You Go deals with depression, suicide, and Alzheimer's, weighty subject matters.  But they're told around a story of redemption, and new love, which helps keep the story from being to depressing.  Aldo's story (Holly's grandfather), resonated the most with me and his relationship with Holly was touching and obviously told from a perspective of experience.  I was very impressed with how Davis dealt with the issue of Alzheimer's and what it does at a relationship level but also at a caregiver level to families.

I really liked Holly, Jason and Aldo, but I did feel like Holly's mom was taken a bit too far to salvage her like-ability at times.  Obviously she was supposed to be difficult, but her "like-able" moments weren't redeeming for me since her non-like-able moments were particularly severe.  Essentially she became the villain of the story for me and I'm not sure that was the intention.  I was raised by a single mother on low income, we lived in low-rental housing and eventually my mom did also care for my grandparents who both went through Alzheimer's, and I can tell you because of that my mom was always very keen that I have a normal childhood and teen life.  By taking that away from Holly's mom, Davis takes her to the level of evil step mom a la Cinderella style.  After all the drama, it was hard to believe that Holly would be able to work things out with her mom at the end.

However, Davis does such an amazing job of Aldo and his relationship with Holly that although Holly's mom was a problem for me, I could largely overlook it and enjoy this story.  It defiantly brought tears to my eyes at points, and it's advocacy for forgiveness and kindness were admirable.

A sweeping but quiet read, Wherever You Go is one of those books that's worth hunting down.

Wherever You Go, By Heather Davis
Published by Harcourt, November 2011
My copy provided by Houghton Mifflin
Buy Wherever You Go on Amazon

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