Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review: Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly 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, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather - but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend? As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her 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? 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Told from the perspective of three teenagers, Heather Davis’ Wherever You Go is a novel about love, loss, hope, family and friendship. Although there is a paranormal element in that one of the leads is a ghost, the spotlight isn’t on him and so the book feels like a contemporary for the most part.

Holly Mullen, the first person narrator, is a very mature and likeable character. Faced with the task of managing the household and taking care of her little sister and grandfather because her single mom has two jobs and is rarely home, Holly accepts her responsibilities and handles them with grace rather than whining and complaining about the unfairness of life.

I actually felt like the Mullen family was real based on the way that Davis portrayed them. Too often, YA novels feature dysfunctional families; but in Wherever You Go, I sensed genuine love and a strong sense of loyalty to each other. Like any family though, the Mullens aren’t perfect. Holly, for example, gets annoyed at her mother for questioning her decisions about the way she’s running things since she’s been the one doing it all along.

Rob’s point-of-view felt a little strange because it was narrated from the second person, but this didn’t stop me from being able to relate to him. It’s easy to understand his avoidance of the memories surrounding his accident and confusion at wondering why he’s still stuck on earth. By making Rob a ghost, Davis enables him to see how his death affected those close to him and yet realize that life continues to go on. This is probably best exemplified in the romance that develops between Jason and Holly based on attempt at friendship.

Told from a third person narration, Jason’s perspective allows the reader to not only be aware of how Holly feels about him (from her narration) but also know how he feels about her. Despite the fact that both Holly and Jason are still trying to get over Rob’s death and that Holly has doubts about him (since Rob’s friends weren’t very nice to her while he was alive), Jason isn’t afraid to fight for their relationship. I thought it was really sweet that unlike a lot of guys in high school, Jason was willing to spend time with Grandpa Aldo and Lena because he understood that they were important to Holly and that she was in charge of taking care of them.

Aside from the great cast of characters and the emphasis on family, I liked that Davis chose to deal honestly with the subject of mental and neurological disorders. I cried when Grandpa Aldo showed Holly the list of things he never wants to forget because I can’t even imagine what it’s like to slowly be robbed of your most meaningful memories. Watching his condition worsen later was pretty tough too. Davis successfully demonstrates that having something like depression or Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) isn’t just hard on the person suffering from it but also on those close to them, and not seeking help can be disastrous.

A realistic novel that turned out to be much better than I was expecting, Wherever You Go will be released on November 14, 2011 by Harcourt Children's Books. 

Comments About the Cover: The faded look of the cover kind of hints at memories slowly disappearing, which would make sense in terms of the plot because Grandpa Aldo has AD and Holly begins to create new memories with Jason. The title also has significance since wherever Rob goes, he’ll never truly be forgotten by his family and friends. So while it looks like Holly is thinking about him, I’d much rather have Rob – even if he’s not the main character – on the cover because he needs to go somewhere and is also being replaced in Holly’s life. 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for free via NetGalley.


Relevant statistics:
  • The lifetime prevalence of depression in men is about 5-10% and about 10-20% for women.
  • Close to half of those who commit suicide are depressed when they do it.
  • The most common form of dementia, AD affects 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 and about half of those over the age of 85.


  1. Awesome review, Z! I loved this book for all the reasons that you mentioned. It felt authentic and I agree that the moments with Grandpa Aldo made me cry too.

  2. Think I'm going to pass this one. I don't like to read books with the words "tragic" and "accident" at the summary. But I'm glad you loved it! :]

  3. What? Noooooo!

    Ah, Z! I don't know if I can handle that many narrative styles in one book! Grrrrrr. Okay, so maybe my reaction is a little over dramatic, but did you read Angel Fire? Towards the end of that book, the shifts happened from one sentence to the next. It was sooo annoying. Does that happen here? If not, I might be able to deal with it better. LOL

    I think I'll proceed with caution with this one. I mean, you review makes it sound great, but to me, it just seems like there are too many elements. Holly taking care of the family, a new love interest, Grandpa losing his memories and then a ghost? GAH!

  4. I'm really curious about this one. Sometimes multiple narrators work really well for me and sometimes they make it hard for me to settle into the story, but it sounds like these three are pretty well done. Love the emphasis on family too, it's definitely a rarity in YA fiction lately!

  5. Sounds like it has a completely different from what I first imagined when I read the summary since I thought it would be pretty stalkerish having Rob's ghost around. Also its such a sad story so I'll be sure to have tissues around when I do read it.

  6. Oh, I love that you've included relevant statistics! It's so good to hear from you that this book's approach to mental disorders seemed honest and legit. The author must have done her research! Or perhaps was able to relate to the experiences herself.

  7. I really want to read this one!!! Love the cover :) The statistics are all very interesting especially the second one! I'll be sure to pick this one up fromt he library.

    Thanks for the awesome review.


  8. I really want to read this one!!! Love the cover :) The statistics are all very interesting especially the second one! I'll be sure to pick this one up fromt he library.

    Thanks for the awesome review.


  9. I haven read it but as you thought before, I wasnt expecting to see such a good review. Tanks for sharing =D I will definitely give a it a shot!


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