Funnily enough, I was just finishing up an essay on record store memories when I started reading this novel! It was as if I opened it at the perfect time, my own record store nostalgia meeting the fictional but oh so real record store nostalgia that is present all through There You Are. This book gave me all the feels, in so many ways.
There You Are is set in St Louis (mainly), and hops between 2014 (with the backdrop of Michael Brown’s murder by a police officer and the unrest that followed in Ferguson), and the mid 1980’s and 1990’s (for the most part). The narrative follows Octavian as he grows up in St Louis, losing his mother at an early age, and then watching his brother fall into the hell that is drug addiction and alcoholism. It also follows Mina, Octavian’s friend then girlfriend, and we see how their lives come together and diverge over the years. And in the middle of it all is Rashaan’s Record Store, and all of the other wonderful characters who Octavian and Mina surround themselves with.
Music brings people together. It always has, always will. I met my closest friends thanks to music, fell in love thanks to music, have amazing, amazing memories thanks to music. Despite hardships, pain, and racial divides, music brings the characters in this book back together, time and time again, and while it doesn’t provide real solutions (in the novel or in real life), it does provide an ground for us to grow on, together.
I loved the playlists for each decade - a great way to make the reader even more nostalgic than they already are reading this novel!
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy of this book – I highly recommend it, especially to those who have a song for every event and memory.