You Were Never Here

HarperTeen. Oct. 2020. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063002517.
Gr 7 Up–For the first time in five years, 17-year-old Cat Montgomery is returning to the small, sleepy Canadian town her family founded. Five years since the day she kissed her best friend Riley and events spiraled out of control. Now she’s forced to spend the summer in her ancestral home next door to Riley’s family. But Riley has been missing for three months, and his older brother Noah thinks he’s been murdered. Noah enlists Cat’s help discovering who is behind Riley’s disappearance because he knows her big secret—she sees visions when she touches a person. Cat is reluctant to help, but when she and her friends stumble upon an unconscious girl in the water, she knows she has no choice. Cat’s insecurities threaten to sideline her investigation and her new friendships. She struggles to find worth in her visions and herself, often referring to herself as “the chubby friend” and finding herself on the sidelines. A number of questions are left lingering through the story that help build the suspense. What happened that day with Riley? Why was Cat forced to leave her new home in New York and spend the summer in Canada? By the time they are answered it is a bit of a letdown, but not enough to detract from the book as a whole. This novel is more than a murder mystery. It’s about self-empowerment, acceptance, and the strength to be found in female friendships.
VERDICT This is a first-purchase mystery full of red herrings, ominous settings, and characters who will touch your heart.

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