Can you believe there’s only two weeks left of our Sweet Summertime Reads series with Ginger and Tara? It’s been such a fun summer of new ideas, summer loving, and it’s crazy that it’s about to come to a close. I’m going solo today with this post but it is totally inspired by Magan’s affection for When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney.
I’ve been trying to do a better job of balancing books for review, books I own, and most importantly, getting to books that Magan reviews and loves. Well, after buying When You Were Here on its release day, I finally read it last week and absolutely loved it. It was so touching, so well written, and I loved the switch in setting from California to Tokyo.
After reading, I felt inspired to do our first themed gift pack post in a long time. There were so many fun details in Whitney’s book and I hope seeing them in a collection will inspire you to pick up this novel sooner rather than later. I’ve been on a reading roll lately, and When You Were Here was one of the standouts of the bunch.
Maki My Day Earrings: Traveling to Tokyo means eating a lot of raw fish. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory but Danny’s mom’s best friend (Kate, who is also his unofficial guardian) loves to collect plastic pieces of sushi. I think these earrings are just hilarious and so quirky.
Buddha Statue: There’s a certain level of spirituality to this story. As Danny discovers more about his mother’s way of dealing with her disease, he must seek his own peace and also finds out about more and more about hers. (It also made me think of TinyBuddha.com; do you follow this website? It’s super motivating and calming!)
Colorful socks: I love the supporting characters in When You Were Here especially Kana (the daughter of the landlord in Tokyo). She becomes Danny’s friend and tour guide, and is such a vibrant character. I loved her outgoing personality (all of her clothes), how important Danny’s mom was to her, and how she was determined to make her own plans when high school was over. Their partnership was great to watch unfold. (ha! That’s a punny joke about socks… almost.)
Green tea: The Japanese teahouse is one of Danny’s main destinations when he gets to Tokyo. He knows his mom spent a lot of time there, and he wants to know why. Did she think that the tea would cure her? Jasmine green tea is one of my favorites. It’s super relaxing and tastes nice on a cold morning.
Lilacs: When I was young, our neighbor used to have a lilac bush and I was obsessed with the smell. It’s still one of my favorites, and I’m not even a fan of flowers much. Danny’s mom LOVED lilacs. The smell, the look, everything and he is constantly reminded of her when he comes in contact with them.
Stationary: When I visited Magan in Texas, we talked a lot about how nice it is to receive a handwritten card from friends every now and then. It’s so true. Notes are very sentimental to Danny’s mom, and also help him to piece together what Danny wants to find out about his mom when he’s visiting Tokyo. (I also love PaperSource. This website is full of the cutest things.)
Dog Magnets: Talk about man’s best friend. Danny’s dog, Sandy Koulfax, is one of the best animal characters in a book I’ve ever read. It’s true. The connection between them was depicted so realistically, and I could just tell how much they loved each other. I could not put together this gift pack without mention good old Sandy K. (Who was a big help in finding ladies for Danny’s friends too.)
Be sure to add When You Were Here to your Goodreads account, check out Magan’s review, or go and buy it already. This book is perfect to read during the summer because it’s about those months after graduation and before Danny jumps into college — such an important time of self-discovery, especially as he mourns the loss of his mom. Whitney has written such a touching, genuine, and surprisingly fast-paced story with brilliant supporting characters and a lot of heart. (I read it in a day if that tells you anything.)