We Were Never Here
reviewed by Chelsea Aguilera
How many dead bodies need to pile up before someone isn’t an “innocent bystander” anymore?
This is the question Emily finds herself asking when she experiences the same terrifying situation two years in a row.
A year ago in Cambodia, Emily experienced the terror of being assaulted, put to a stop just in time by her best friend Kristen, who silenced her attacker forever. A year later, Emily is beginning to heal from the trauma and decides to brave another trip with Kristen to Chile. But when she walks in on Kristen, terrified and confused, standing over another dead body, she starts to wonder if they attract bad attention, or if there is something more going on.
Emily heads home to Wisconsin to try to put the pieces of her life back together and have time away from Kristen. She has a job she loves and the beginning of a new relationship, so there is hope to move past her trauma. But then Kristen shows up unannounced, and throws Emily into a tailspin, forced to be reminded of the things they went through. And the worst part is, Kristen is acting like nothing even happened.
This book gave off Amanda Knox vibes and mixed it with an obsessive female friendship. It was intriguing from the start and had Andrea Bartz’ signature theme of female empowerment. Women traveling alone, women surviving trauma, and women dealing with boundaries in their lives. The tension and fear of the story is paired with underlying themes that I enjoyed reading about.
You never quite know who to trust in this story, which makes it all the better. Bartz developed the characters a lot in a short amount of time and it helped me connect with the story. The topic of mental health and therapy comes up often and is an important component added to this story. Was the story believable? No. But it was almost like a guilty pleasure, so addicting that you can’t turn away. I recommend this book to those who like the single white female vibe or those who find it creepy to travel alone.
Thank you to Random House and Andrea Bartz for my ARC of this book. Opinions are my own. We Were Never Here comes out on July 13, 2021.