HERE by Denise Grover Swank {Review}

A Backwards Story is happy to be a part of The {Teen} Book Scene's tour for HERE!  Check out the tour schedule to see the list of events. Last week, I interviewed Denise Grover Swank as part of the tour.  Check it out!

Title: HERE
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Release Date: Out now (Nov. 11, 2011)
Publisher: Self-published
Received: Review copy courtesy of Denise Grover Swank and The {Teen} Book Scene


Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

While also available in paperback, if you're looking for a great ebook deal, HERE can be purchased for your nook, Kindle, or favorite reading app for a steal at $2.99!

HERE is a book full of mystery and intrigue.  It also screws with the reader's head as s/he tries to figure out what's going on.  In this fashion, it reminds me a LOT of Michelle Hodkin's THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.  Both books mess with your head as you try to figure out what the heck is happening and struggle to piece the clues together.  Additionally, both books deal with a main character struggling from PTSD after being the only one left alive following a devastating accident.  Both girls have families and friends trying to help them.  If you like MARA DYER, you'll love HERE.  If you didn't like/want to read MARA DYER, HERE might still be for you because while the books have the aforementioned similarities, they're also very different from one another.  One of the things that drove me crazy about MARA DYER, for example, is the fact that at the end of the book, you STILL don't know what's going on and are on pins and needles awaiting this fall's sequel.  While I won't deny that HERE still has a bit of a cliffhanger, it's not nearly as lethal.  On top of that, a good chunk of the way into the book, you find out what's going on as the book turns in a completely new and unexpected (and spoiler-free, sorry) direction.

The novel begins a couple of months after a car accident that took the life of Julia's best friend Monica.  She survived, but she doesn't remember anything about the accident.  She doesn't remember ever wearing the bracelet with the cryptic love message that she's now wearing.  The police say she's at fault for the accident, which means she must be since she can't remember, but...the memories Julia DOES have consist of her dying, and of Monica surviving.  She believes she should have died, that Monica should be alive now.  What right does Julia have to laugh or have fun?  Though never stated, it's clear that Julia is suffering from PTSD.  She's broken and has no will to live.  She's completely checked out from the world.  She doesn't even do her school work anymore.  The school finally steps in and says that if Julia doesn't start making up her school work, she'll be transferred to alternative school.  One of the most popular guys at school, Evan, begins tutoring her.  He never looked at her twice in the past, but now he seems enamored with her.  There's also something off about him, and clues that Julia mulls over but blows off, clues that make readers curious as their brains begin to whirl.  As the clues begin coming together, Julia finds herself encountering situations she's never even dreamed of, ones that throw her very life into jeopardy...again.

I really liked trying to figure out the mystery and seeing the way the pieces fell together in HERE.  I will definitely be interested in continuing the story when the sequel comes out.  At first, I didn't think I would like it after reading the Prologue and not really understanding what I was reading, but once I got into the story itself, I became enamored with the characters and wanted to know more about what was going on.  While I normally groan over love triangles, I like that this book didn't have one come into play until much later in the book, and only briefly.  I think the triangle will develop more in the second book, and I'll tell you now...while I love both of the guys now in Julia's life, I feel like this is Cynthia Hand's UNEARTHLY all over again because I'm leaning toward the underdog!  It isn't a triangle thrown in just-because, rather, it's one full of heart-break and intrigue that also serves as part of the story's plot.  I also appreciated the way Denise Grover Swank developed Julia.  She's such a rich character with an incredible amount of depth.  Her pain felt very real, never forced.  I felt like I was reading about a girl slogging through life after a horrifying accident.  Her plight felt very fresh and real.  I also enjoyed the way we see her slowly unfurl and come out of her despair as she interacts more with Evan and begins associating with the world again, from teachers to bullies to family members.  I found myself rooting for Julia and her peace of mind as I read, despite the horrible curveballs life continues to throw at her, and I hope you will too after picking up your copy of HERE!

Other books mentioned in this review that have previously been reviewed at A Backwards Story are THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin and UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand.


This isn't really my favorite cover in the world.  My favorite thing about it is actually that gorgeous font used for the book's title.  The cover seems like it would take place after the accident, since Julia is standing in the woods looking very vulnerable.  It could also take place later in the story when she's in the woods.  There are two male figures in the background that fade in with the trees.  Are they police officers?  Are they the two guys Julia finds herself emotionally attached to?  I also don't really picture Julia wearing a sweet dress/nightgown/whatever in the middle of the woods like that.  The way her hair is falling across her face makes me think the book is going to be placed in the horror or ghost story genre, neither of which is my favorite to read.  

I am definitely guilty of judging this book by its cover, which is sad, because once I stopped procrastinating and started reading, I became very involved in the novel's story!