DNF: We Were Never Here

We Were Never Here is a wannabe The Fault in Our Stars with a pedestrian twist you can see coming from a mile away.  Maybe even two miles.  It's histrionic and over the top and yet somehow not enough of a story to be believable.  This review is going to probably be mind-numbingly boring because I don't have a lot to work with here.

Basically, take any teen-with-a-health-issue story, remove the poignancy, and replace it with DARK SECRETS and HOT BOYS WITH CUTE PUPPIES.

The main character, Lizzie Stoller, is a self-absorbed twit (if you don't like teens, that may be how you describe them, but I assure you that they are also funny, smart, incisive, and giving).  One day, she collapses at camp with severe abdominal pain, vomiting--basically everything humiliating about having your digestive system turn on you like Benedict Arnold.  Bizarrely, they keep her in the camp infirmary for a few days before, you know, calling a doctor or her family or someone trained to deal with serious medical issues.  Bad camp.  Bad.

It turns out that she has ulcerative colitis, and she's in the hospital refusing to walk or talk or eat and generally being excessively dramatic.  Even when a cute guy and his cute dog show up in her room, she doesn't want to talk to them, even though he's sooooo dreamy and the doggie is soooooo cute.  Obviously, Lizzie and Connor, the hot guy, end up having A Connection and then A Relationship, but alas!  Lizzie has to have a partial colostomy, which makes her think that she can never be loved agaiiiiiin.  But Connor and Verlaine, the dog, still love her, but then she finds out a Horrible Secret about Connor and doesn't know if she can trust him anymore.

Two chapters later, he sneaks into her cabin and they have sex because they feel like they should.  Like it's expected.  It's a depressing variant on "not dying a virgin."  What's bad about that situation is that you are dying (dying!), not that you're a virgin.  Sheesh.

After that, Lizzie finds purpose and a new best friend and hopes that she will see Connor, her love, sometime in the future, because they looooove each other.  The end.

I marked this as a DNF because I skimmed most of the book, reading key scenes.  So obviously I could have missed some sort of important plot point, but based on the excessively bland nature of the rest of the book, I don't really mind.

Just another boy-saves-girl-from-depression-about-illness book.  Skip it.

I received an ARC from Edelweiss.


  1. Sounds strange. I have an admittedly mild case of ulcerative colitis. I don't recall any dramatic sudden first attack. I just had some weird symptoms which I went to the GP about and eventually a specialist and once every two or three years I have to get a checkup to make sure it hasn't developed into something more serious. I know it can be a lot worse, including having to have surgery, but from your description it sounds as if the author could have done a bit more research.

    1. I thought it odd too, as a fellow unhappy GI person (hi, pre-ulcerous stomach and Celiac!) that she would be basically felled by this and that no one could figure it out for like a week in the hospital. Everyone thought she had cancer. It can definitely be really bad, but the way everyone treats it is, well, as if the author originally had it be cancer, but the editor said ENOUGH CANCER ALREADY, PICK SOMETHING ELSE, so ulcerative colitis stepped up to bat.


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