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We Were Here Paperback – September 14, 2010

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We Were Here + Mexican WhiteBoy + Ball Don't Lie
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385736703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385736701
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Miguel struggles to forgive himself for a tragic event that changed his life and his family forever. He willingly accepts his one-year sentence to a juvenile detention center and the requirement that he keep a journal. De La Peña uses the conceit of the journal to tell the story in Miguel's words. At the center, Miguel befriends Rondell, a mentally challenged teen prone to violent outbursts, and Mong, a troubled boy with myriad physical and emotional problems. Mong organizes an escape, and with little apparent thought, Miguel and Rondell agree to join him. The boys' convoluted travels take them up and down the California coast and are recorded in Miguel's journal, along with his personal journey of self-discovery. It is frustrating that the salient event, the one that led to Miguel's incarceration, is kept from readers, and most other characters, until the end of the book. Once the truth of what happened is exposed, it is difficult to comprehend the callousness shown to Miguel by other family members; in fact, readers may question why he was imprisoned at all. The premise of juvenile delinquents on the run, camping out, and trying to survive and to find themselves will appeal to teens, but the story is just too drawn out to hold the interest of most of them.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

  We Were Here is Matt de la Peña’s third novel. He attended the University of the Pacific on a basketball scholarship and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at San Diego State University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. Look for Matt's other books, Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, I Will Save You, and The Living, for which he received the Pura Belpré Author Honor Award, all available from Delacorte Press. You can also visit him at mattdelapena.com and follow @mattdelapena on Twitter.

From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Matt de la Peña's debut novel, Ball Don't Lie, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick and was made into a major motion picture. His second novel, Mexican WhiteBoy, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adult (Top Ten Pick), a Notable Book for a Global Society, a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book. His third novel, We Were Here, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Readers, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. His fourth book, I Will Save You, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Readers, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection and finalist for the 2011 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. De la Peña's fifth book, The Living, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults and a Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.

His short fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, NPR.org and various literary journals, including Pacific Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, Two Girls' Review, The George Mason Review, and The Allegheny Review. De la Peña received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. You can visit Matt and find out more about his books at mattdelapena.com and follow him on Twitter at @mattdelapena.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
I recommend this book to all teens out there.
The story itself was touching and the messages were thought provoking.
Kristie Starrett
I now own and have read all three of Matt de la Pena's books.
J. Delapena

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey D. Kapostasy on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We Were Here deserves any and all awards and accolades coming to it, and probably many that haven't been thought of. Not since I've read Pete Hautman's books have I been so taken by a book written for teens.
I teach young adult literature in a middle school and come across HUNDREDS of books each year, and most of them, frankly, are not all that terrific; worse, I know my students won't like them. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this book to my students (6th graders) because the content and language is much more suitable for high school students.
I do, however, urge everyone else to pick up this book. De La Pena is a gifted and natural storyteller who knows how to capture an audience and keep them up long after darkness has fallen. This is the kind of book that will keep students up with the flashlight long after the lights have gone out.
Borrowing themes from Of Mice and Men and Catcher in the Rye - which Miguel, the main character, is reading - Pena takes Miguel, the main character, on a gritty adventure of heartbreak, hope, mystery, tragedy, and redemption. If this all seems too cliched, it is not; in Pena's yarn, it is a true original.
Some more conservative readers might not want to read this book because of the urban slang and the theme of being a minority in this country. But Pena doesn't beat you on the head with it: the true gift is the story itself; the rest is just The Way It Is.
The last YAL book I read that I was so taken with was Godless by Pete Hautman, which won the National Book Award; if there is any justice in this world, De La Pena will soon be crafting his acceptance speech.
Quick p.s. - I met Matt at this year's NCTE conference...super nice guy; doesn't seem to realize his genius!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Darcy Wishard on October 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Reading outside my favorite genres is something that is sometimes difficult for me to do... but I try to when I can so that I can recommend books to lots of different readers. This effort on my part is sweetly rewarded when I find books like We Were Here.

This is a story of a boy who must face his past and deal with the fact that he is not the only person on the planet who wasn't given an easy life. In fact Miguel finds out that his is just one story among many.

After being sent to a boys home Miguel meets Rondell and Mong. Despite barely knowing each other they decide to runaway and go to Mexico where Mong supposedly has some connections that will lead them all to a better life.

What they really find is friendship, hard times and the knowledge that in order to move on to the future you have to face your past.

This is a really great book...the story is honest and straight forward but not overwhelming. The author does a great job of giving us all the details without being overly emotional or going for the shock factor. This book made me want to read all of Matt de la Pena's books, he is a great writer!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookish Brooklynite on October 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of de la Pena's writing and in this latest book he delivers a deeply moving, highly literary, and incredibly engaging novel that both teens and adults can thoroughly enjoy. De la Pena nails the urban language and voice of his young protagonist, Miguel, and his two unlikely friends, delivering a powerful character study of three boys who are of different races, religions, and are all overcoming deep personal tragedy. It is a book that takes you on a journey through the eyes of these teens who are struggling to find their way in life. This book will move you, entertain you, and break your heart. And if you don't believe me, just look at what the "experts" have to say:

". . . fast, funny, smart, and heartbreaking." - Booklist

"A story of friendship that will appeal to teens and will engage the most reluctant readers." - Kirkus Reviews

I must admit that I couldn't say it better myself.

Read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
`People always think there's this huge hundred-foot-high barrier that separates doing good from doing bad. But there's not. There's nothing. There's not even a little anthill. You just take one baby step in any direction and you're already there. You've done something awful. And your life is changed forever.' ~ Matt de la Peña, We Were Here

This is one of the best young adult books I have ever read. Scratch that. This is one of the best books I have ever read.

At the onset of We Were Here, we get acquainted with Miguel, the narrator of the story as he is transferred from juvi to a halfway house. Miguel has a mindset that he has absolutely nothing to lose, and that he will never again have anything to gain. We are aware that he has done a bad thing--a terrible thing--but we are not quite sure what it is. We only know that he never wants to forget the burden of his guilt...that he wants to carry it with him forever and feel the extreme pain of his suffering.

This is the story of three troubled teens. Miguel, Rondell and Mong are a very unlikely trio. Miguel's first encounter with the other two boys are violent. There is spitting and punching and a painful pinning to the ground. All of these things make the reader think Rondell and Mong will both soon be left in the dust of the story. But they would be wrong. The three eventually devise a plan to escape the halfway house together and make a run for freedom in Mexico.

Once they are out in the wilds of California, and heading for the ocean so they can travel south to Mexico, the story really takes off! Along the way, the reader is treated to a wealth of self-reflection from Miguel's ongoing journal writing. We discover that he is a compassionate, thoughtful and intelligent young man.
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