I have mixed feelings about this book, mostly because of expectations. For some reason, I had the impression You Are Here was a light, funny contemporary romance. I have no idea why I thought that, but I kept the idea in my head I had read that somewhere. Then as I started reading it, I kept thinking was this going to be a ménage? Read some reviews and absolutely not. OK, so it’s not a ménage, its' got some angst, but it is contemporary. However, this isn’t something I could see ever, ever rereading because I found the situations so sad, ugly and depressing; even if it did depict everyday truths and life lessons in an extreme way.
I guess if I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it reminded me often of another San Francisco based book/series: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. I’ve read that entire series and actually loved it and I kept wondering what it was about You Are Here that I wasn’t enjoying it, and like I said; I guess it boils down to me reading something about broken relationships, near rape, crazed-stalkers that try to kill you, blackmail, family issues, and a man you keep hoping will learn and who doesn’t when I had been looking forward to an entirely different type of book. I realize this is MY issue, not the book’s.
The characterizations, however, are great because it’s a lot of characters with three central point of views and initially I wasn’t drawn to any of them, but over the course of the book; I grew to care for a couple of them. Peter is a shy and quiet 25 year-old budding artist, so nondescript that even the reader fails to notice him, let alone the other characters. Over the course of the book, though, Peter becomes an adult, for lack of a better term. His growth is so gradual, so realistic that I didn’t even notice the change until it struck me and I found myself proud of him. Proud that he didn’t settle, that he spoke up, that he wanted better for himself and was willing to lose everything for that. Miles, at the beginning, is a wandering, broken man suffering from the end of his engagement. Looking and feeling angry, he keeps everyone away. He holds onto perceived wrongs. His journey wasn’t as enjoyable to me; though, I still felt a tug of happiness at the end. Nick was my favorite character and the one that shattered my heart. I can’t talk about his journey without major spoilers, but he was frustrating to me on so many damn levels. He’s the charmer, the lonely person that hides behind a long list of acquaintances, the scared person, the bored and agitated person itching to get out of his skin…he’s more than what you read or would see on the surface.
So in saying all of that, it doesn’t sound like a bad book, and it isn’t. I still found just situation after situation I didn’t enjoy. I’m glad there wasn’t any explicit sex, and it was nice reading a story with less than physically perfect MC’s, but there was more than enough ugliness within the story to take that place. Just nasty, spiteful behavior. Often times the actions of the characters were so manic I felt actually disturbed. Like I said earlier in my review, the book puts everyday mundane situations but twists them in larger than life way. It depressed me. I wanted some happiness, and I was hard-pressed to find any. Also that ending…I guess it worked out the way it needed to, the way it would realistically have worked out, but it wasn’t the one I was hoping for, so it kind of broke my heart. You Are Here is a good book, though. I just would classify more as fiction and a character study than an actual romance.