Jun 5, 2017

Review: We Were Never Here by Jennifer Gilmore


Title: We Were Never Here
Author: Jennifer Gilmore
Publisher: HarperTeen
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 320 Pages
Published June 2016

Summary: Did you know your entire life can change in an instant? For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses, out of the blue. The next thing she knows she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of. But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome, teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him, and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.

Emily had read this book before I got a chance to, and I was excited to finally get my hands on it. There were some parts of this book that didn't make a lot of sense or confused me a little bit, but overall I enjoyed it.

As the summary explains, Lizzie is a teenage girl who ends up falling ill with what is, at first, a mysterious disease that nobody can pin down. When I got to this stage in the book, I really enjoyed it (even though it was a bit confusing at times), because I related to it a lot. I, too, have a mysterious disease that doctors ranging from my local hospital to the Mayo Clinic have researched and cannot figure out. (However, my issue is liver-related, while Lizzie's is related to her colon.) So during all of the poking and prodding, the hospital visits, the vitals, and the research parts of the book, I could relate, even down to hoping that the doctor will name the disease after myself. The difference between me and Lizzie, however, is that they finally figured out what was wrong with her. (And I've been waiting for three years now.) So I sympathized with her in that regard. Having no idea what's wrong with you is a scary, stressful, and (more often than not) painful thing that nobody should have to endure.

And then along comes Connor. The shiny, golden boy with a dog, who makes visits to sick patients and does what he can to cheer them up -- all as an effort to help him get over his dark past and some of the irreversible mistakes he has made. It doesn't take Lizzie long to start falling for him, and before she knows it, he becomes her one friend and companion during her dark time in the hospital. And then, they blossom into something more. 

But of course, once Lizzie leaves the hospital, things get ten times more complicated. Her and Connor have separate lives, histories, families, friends, and wants, and staying close just isn't something that is as easy as it was during Lizzie's brief stay in the hospital. The question is, can they make it work, even after everything Lizzie once knew about her life is starting to change?

I feel like the part of the story that I was unsettled with the most was the slight lack of character development. Even after reading the entire book, I don't really know how to pin Lizzie down as a person. We are given very little information about her previous life, her likes, her wants, her family, her dreams, her desires. The same goes for Connor and all of Lizzie's friends. It just felt like at times, I was so confused when Lizzie would appear to be doing things that "didn't sound like herself" -- because I barely knew anything about her to begin with. I definitely think that if there had been a little bit deeper of a character development for each crucial person in the story, I may have not been so confused. 

Other than that, it was interesting to see how Lizzie adjusted to all of the changes -- both medical and in her social/familial life -- after her surgery, and after such a terrible and scary thing had happened to her. She managed to still make the best of her situation, even when things were rocky with Connor, by making a new friend and even going on to have a new purpose in life. By the end of the book, she definitely seemed to be worlds different from the girl sitting alone in her hospital bed panicking over the fact that she may never get to go to Spain in her lifetime. 

Overall, I did enjoy We Were Never Here. There were some parts that I found a bit confusing, but by the end of the book some of the iffy parts get tied up rather well, and it overall makes the book seem more comprehensive and makes a lot more sense. If you're reading this book and you're still iffy on whether or not you should read it, I encourage you to pick it up and at least give it a chance, because you never know -- you may understand more things in this book than I did, and you may end up loving it.

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