In a strong follow-up to her debut memoir, I Don’t want to Be Crazy, Samantha Schutz creates a poignant, intimate novel that peels back the layers of loss and grief in You Are Not Here.
Annaleah meet Brian one day by chance. Not long after, the two teens start hanging out, and sparked by what felt like kindred spirits and is certainly mutual attraction, they envelope each other in a sensual, secretive romance. But because they go to different schools, Annaleah is excluded from parts of Brian’s life. In addition to not having any mutual friends, Brian erected walls around other parts of his life, only letting Annaleah in when he wants to. But their connection, when they’re together, is so strong that Annaleah doesn’t mind Brian’s flakiness or being held at arm’s length.
Everything changes when Brian suddenly collapses and dies. Annaleah realizes, too late, that she hardly knew Brian and now she must face the loss and grief all alone. She shuts out her mom, her friends, and spends all of her time at the cemetery talking to Brian’s grave. She obsesses over every detail of their “perfect” love, endlessly searching for answers that will never come, wondering how she can recover from a loss that no one knows she experienced. Eventually, Annaleah’s grief lessens as she realizes that life does go on, and she slowly lets herself feel again.
Schutz’s verse is personal, insightful, and intimate. Readers can easily sink into Annaleah’s pain and the darkness of her depression. When the sprouts of hope begin to grow, Schutz weaves them delicately into the story, and the reader, along with Annaleah, draws a breath of clear fresh air, looking forward to a young woman coming back to life.
- Posted by Cori