“The death of someone you love will define you in ways small and large. It can defeat you. Or deliver you. You Are Not Here is a story about ultimate deliverance, and one you’ll not soon forget.” –Ellen Hopkins, best-selling author of Crank.
“Death is a period / at the end of a sentence,” concludes Annaleah, the 16-year-old protagonist of Schutz’s captivating fictional follow-up to her verse memoir. And much like the resolute finality fixed in that tiny dot, Annaleah spends a great deal of this free-verse novel stuck contemplating the harsh reality that her sometime boyfriend, Brian—a seemingly healthy, dark-haired, cloudy-blue–eyed 17-year-old—has just dropped dead on the basketball court. Reeling from both physical loss and lack of closure to the meaning of their clandestine relationship, Annaleah finds herself routinely visiting and addressing the deceased Brian, until a chance graveside encounter yields advice that finally begins to hit home: “Nothing grows here,” says Brian’s grandmother, “besides grass.” At first blush appearing to pull out all the melodramatic stops in classic teen fashion, these refreshingly spare lines tackle tough relational issues—intimacy, risk, abandonment—with aplomb, making for a moving tale that also effectively shows teens how life can go on.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Children’s book editor Schutz’s first novel is actually her second book, the first being the memoir I Don’t Want to Be Crazy (2006). Both books are told in free verse, a technique that nicely serves the highly emotional content of this story. Its teenage protagonist, Annaleah, is mourning the tragic death of Brian, her occasional lover and boyfriend. Reflecting almost obsessively on their ill-defined relationship, Annaleah realizes she never really knew the secretive Brian, a gifted artist and athlete. Suffering from what appears to be clinical depression, Annaleah withdraws from the world and refuses offers of help from her few good friends. Her endless self-examination and occasional self-pity create a claustrophobic atmo phere that some readers will find stifling, though others will enjoy its theme of tragic lost love. That said, the author’s verse is always skillfully written and successfully captures and enhances the melancholy mood of her material.” –Michael Cart, for Booklist
“This well-written novel in verse offers an authentic portrayal of the debilitating effect of grief. Annaleah’s confusion about her intense emotions, her inability to articulate her pain to anyone, her slide into depression, and the helplessness her loved ones feel as they watch are effectively conveyed. At times the story drags, and some readers will feel frustrated by Annaleah’s incessant sentimentality and maudlin response to Brian’s death. The pace of the story quickens when Ethan enters the picture and Annaleah faces the cold truth about Brian’s apathetic treatment of her. Readers who stick with it will be rewarded with a genuine tale of self-discovery.” –VOYA
“This novel’s verse form creates a strong and realistic voice that allows readers to become consumed from the first page. What does one do when their first true love dies unexpectedly and no one even knew this relationship existed? Annaleah’s relationship with Brian comes to an unexpected end when Brian dies of heart complications. Annaleah is stuck grieving by herself since no one knew their relationship existed. The strong voice draws readers in and makes them feel exactly what she feels. Readers will find themselves laughing, crying, and grieving alongside Annaleah. All readers who have experienced a first love or a death of a loved one will immediately relate to this novel. Recommended.” –Library Media Connection