By Heather Davis
b&n // amazon
Published Date: November 14, 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Book Format: Hardback; pp 320
Age Demographic: Young Adult
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?
Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob, Wherever You Go is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.*Summary taken from Goodreads.
I connected with this novel almost immediately, when I started reading. I felt such overwhelming sadness and empathy for Holly and the situation that she was dealing with. It wasn't bad enough that she'd survived a car accident that killed her boyfriend, but now she finds herself thrown head-long into not only taking care of her nine year old sister Lena, but also looking after her grandfather who has come to live with them in their small cramped apartment and is dealing with Alzheimer’s. I have personal experience and knowledge in what it's like to watch someone you care a great deal about deteriorate before your eyes, how helpless you feel, because there's really nothing that you can do for them except try and be as supportive as you can be. So, on that note, Holly's pain and frustration at having to deal with that instead of getting to be a normal teenager and missing out on other things kids her age were getting to do, was easily understandable.
The love story told was very sweet and I found myself liking Jason almost immediately. I couldn't help but root for Jason and Holly to get together, because I think that they were always sort of meant to be in a way. It was sweet the way Jason wanted to help Holly make sure that Aldo got to experience most of the things on his list, that he didn't want to forget. Plus, I like that Jason had always had some sort of feelings for her all along, and it wasn't just because now that Rob was gone, he was finally going for his chance. He really cared about Holly and he wanted to see her happy.
Rob, on the other hand, I felt extremely sad for him and how invisible he must have felt in the last weeks before his death. I like that he was able to realize that even when you don't think it's there, love is still very much all around you. It was such a big revelation and such a sad one, at the same time, because you knew that he wouldn't get to experience the things that Holly and everyone else had in store for them in the future, because his future had been cut short due to his recklessness and the deep ingrained sadness from his depression that caused his suicide.
Still though, it was nice to see him realize that maybe through helping other's move on and learn to live and possibly love again - to be happy, that he was able to let go and move on himself. The friendship that developed between Rob and Aldo, I think, turned out to be one of my favorite aspects of the books. It was sweet and I liked how Rob wanted to help Aldo get his daughter to actually "see" him, when she looked at him even if it hurt a great deal. It meant something to him, for her to know that he was still there even if he was barely hanging on. Those two helped each other quite a bit and it was endearing to read.
Holly has incredible amounts of strength that I sometimes wish I had possessed when I was going through a similar experience myself. How she managed to keep it all together, without completely losing is very admirable, given what she was having to deal and the level of stress it had to have had on her. It was sad to see her at odds with her mother so much and pretty much full-filling a larger portion of the role that her mother should have been playing, then to see them argue about whether or not she was in charge or not in charge. There was a moment, when I really wanted her mother to realize just how much she weight she was putting on her daughter's shoulders and realize, that maybe she needed to bear a little bit more of the weight and try to be a bit more understanding of Holly or supportive than she was at times instead of expecting so much.
Lena was adorable and I loved her relationship with Holly, and how she had such an endless supply of bubbly energy, which I feel like all nine year olds should have. Her youth was so bright and alive, despite the hardships that her family was facing and through it all she managed to keep her spirits alive.
All in all, I truly enjoyed this book a great deal and would definitely read it again.