When a delinquent teen from Stockton, California commits an untold crime, a judge sentences him to a year in a group home, “the Lighthouse” and he has to write at least an entry a day for the whole year so some counselor could figure out how he thinks. Though the judge doesn’t know it but making him write that journal is a blessing in disguise because it gives him a distraction from his problems. While a morose Miguel is in the group home, one of his violent housemate Mong plans an escape to Mexico and Miguel as well as his dopey roommate Rondell go on a journey. They don’t realize but it is truly a journey of self-discovery.
We Were Here by Matt De la Peña is the best YA book I have read, but it is arguably the most irritating book I have read as well. Miguel is a troubled teen running away from his problems who soon discovers that running away from your problems is a race you’ll never win unless you meet with your problems face to face, especially when those problems are against the law. When Miguel gets to his group home, he isn’t very pleased to find out that he is the smartest kid there. Actually, he isn’t very pleased to be in the group home at all. For the first couple of days, Miguel has a constant “this isn’t really happening” feeling because he just cannot manage to believe he actually ended up in a group home. He never thought he would get caught for his mistakes. He just wants to go back to his “normal” way of life but he can’t. He committed a crime he can’t take back. As he’s running away from problems that aren’t revealed to the end of the book, that problem is always on his mind, constantly reliving the crime he committed, constantly thinking about it, dreaming about it every night but you don’t know what it is he’s reliving and that drove me insane. Because of this, We Were Here will keep you turning pages to find out what he did. Did he stab someone? Did he kill someone?Why did he have a knife in the first place? Did he do whatever he did intentionally? What leads to this event?
I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys very personal, first person point of view self-discovery kind of book.