Emma and her neighbor Peter are both lonely in a way that only bothers them on occasion. They both come from families they don’t quite understand. They both feel like something big is missing from their lives—and they’re both about to search for answers. When Emma makes a discovery that shakes the foundations of her identity, she convinces Peter to join her for a road trip.
Each of them has something to find: For Emma, it is a grave—a grave that may be her only connection to her family. Peter is seeking something harder to define, but perhaps easier to navigate—a freedom, a sense of something more than what he has. Together, they take to the open road, engaging in a universal quest to make sense of who they are and where they come from…and learning a thing or two about love along the way.
I don’t know why I love reading travel books so much. They only make me long to travel more. Wanderlust unsuppressed. Visiting new places and seeing things I can’t quite experience behind a computer screen on Google Earth. Though that is a cheap way to “travel”.
Jennifer Smith has written a road trip book unlike any other I’ve read. The depth and thoughtfulness put into the story is pure. There’s a lot of emotion in this book whether it be sad or happy, angry or comical. Every situation playing off each other to create a flow of events and a truly unique coming of age story.
I can relate to any story involving twins. It’s a twin thing, sure, but anyone can relate to this story. It’s one of self-discovery. Feeling out of place in the life you live at home. Wanting there to be something out there better than your current life. Needing there to be. I can understand this. We all can. Loneliness and feeling like you don’t really fit in is universal. You Are Here takes those universal doubts and questions and does it’s best to answer them in a thought-provoking way. Successfully I might add.
Emma and Peter set out on a road trip together for two different reasons. Emma wants to find out about the twin brother she once had, but died shortly after their birth. Peter wants to visit Gettysburg (He’s crazy about the Civil War.). On the way they discover things about each other that they hadn’t planned. Mundane things like their favorite things, but also deeper things like love, loss and taking what they have for granted.
Emma feels out of place in her house full of scholars and professors, unconnected. Like a puzzle piece from a different puzzle that just doesn’t seem to fit in. Peter, with his Civil War obsession and out-of-touch dad, the town sheriff, and his mother who died years before, always felt more at home with Emma’s parents.
The idea for a road trip book is a simple one. One that’s been done before and will be done again, but it’s what happens on the road that determines the quality of the story. The character interaction, the emotional tension, the progressive dialogue –it all has to work seemlessly. I can’t imagine having to come up with enough things to say during a multiple hour car ride much less write a book about it with such emotional drive.
After reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Jennifer Smith quickly jumped up to be one of my favorite contemporary authors. After reading this, she has secured her place once more. You Are Here is now my favorite “road trip” book. You should all read it.
Disclaimer: It WILL make you want to go on an impromptu road trip. I’m ready to go on one now.