“Your whole life, man, it can change in one minute.” (p. 99)
No one knows this better than Miguel. One day he’s living with his mom and brother, Diego, in their Stockton California home and the next he’s in a group home with a bunch of stupid guys and a surfer dude counselor, Jaden, who keeps trying to talk to him about what happened. But Miguel can’t talk about what happened. Not with Jaden; not with anyone. After getting in a fight with the skinny, bald dude named Mong, Miguel decides to steer clear of everyone in the house. He is completely and utterly alone.
When he awakes one night to find Mong standing over his bed, Miguel is surprised by Mong’s request. He wants Miguel to run away with him to Mexico. At first Miguel is hesitant, but he soon realizes he has nothing to live for anymore, and therefore nothing to lose. Miguel’s roommate, Rondell, joins their motley crew of fugitives.
“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.” (p. 119)
What follows is a compelling, at times existential, story about 3 boys struggling to deal with the lots they’ve been dealt. Even though Miguel, Mong and Rondell are considered criminals, the circumstances they’ve had to face are more difficult than most people would deal with in a lifetime. It was difficult for me to get into the book at first, but as time went on, I found myself drawn in deeper and deeper into Miguel’s world. He is a complex character (though I found his voice inconsistent at times) who has done a horrible thing but is not a horrible person-although he doesn’t figure this out until the end of the book. We Were Here is about mistakes, consequences, and, ultimately, forgiveness.