You Can See More From Up Here

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

I was unable to read and review the book by the publishing date due to other commitments.  I will update the review immediately upon completion of the book.  Thank you NetGalley and publisher.
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In You Can See More From Up Here Walker returns to his small hometown in IL when his father is hospitalized. He has a lot of pent up emotions resulting from years of disagreement and tension with his father. Walker reflects on his life and the summer that shifted everything for him many years ago. Now, a middle-aged writer, he seeks answers to his remaining questions.

While home from college one summer, Walker worked at the AMC automotive plant, where his father, a former army general, was the on-site doctor at AMC. He was not well-liked by many of the factory men, particularly when they were denied worker’s comp. for their various injuries. The atmosphere is strained between the American men and the Hispanic immigrants. One day, a violent fight breaks out in the factory and Walker is the only witness. His recounting of the incident affects everyone. When he comes forward changing his original statement, mistrust, fear, anger, and betrayal surface among several of the characters involved. 

I felt for Walker - I thought he was a genuine, well-intentioned young adult, trying to do the right thing while fighting his own internal battles and dealing with family issues. However, at times I also thought “gahhh, this guy doesn’t know when to quit! Stop already!” 

For a book set in the 1970s and 2004, it’s disappointing how some of these issues unfortunately remain timely: The relevance of racial tension and resentment, the struggle of many in America’s “middle” class, etc. This was an interesting story though admittedly slow at first — It took me awhile to get engaged but once I did, the story was good.
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You Can See More From Up Here by Mark Guerin is a family drama that seems simple at first: It's all his fathers fault. But as the hours, days and months go by, Walker Maguire realizes that things were not as simple and black and white as he had thought all these years. This novel seems at first to drag on slowly but then you realize that everything happens and is told for a reason in this story to help you understand the anxiety of having an abusive father, the fear of outing yourself as a liar and letting others down, the guilt that can eat at your for decades to come, and the lack of closure that can cripple you your whole life. This story had a twist that I did not see coming at all and I am very impressed with this being a debut novel by Mark Guerin.
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At its core, this is a simple enough story: a Mexican-American worker injures an American colleague in self-defense and a teenage boy, son of the factory doctor, who witnessed everything and can confirm it was self-defense, does not say anything because he was not supposed to be up on the vantage point and is afraid of his abusive father. Simple enough - but all the side plots, background stories and layers of motivation for the individual characters (why was the American sneaking up on the Mexican in the first place? why does the Mexican not want to show his papers to confirm his rightfully legal citizenship status in this country? why does the factory doctor make the decisions he makes about workers compensation for the two injured men?) quickly makes everything much more complicated. It has to be said though that this still never gets unrealistic and out of hand. It remains human and real, far from soap opera levels of twisted motivations and stories. 

This novel does a good job of revealing deep problems of class and race, as well as family structures and patriarchal power. Even though this is technically set in the past, it feels like a very timely and fitting novel for current society, as well. It is also about memories, wrong memories, forgiveness and apologies. And this is were the second time line plays an important role - the boy, all grown up, returns to his home town and his dying father with a wish to resolve this story and all the questions he has. At first, I did not get this story line, but towards the end, it dawned on me: you can indeed see more from this vantage point of the present looking back at the past, seeing the overview and the bigger picture over things you were then too emotionally entangled in. However, the look back also taints images and memories and flattens out what used to be more layered. This is a really important and impactful part of the novel, but because it unfolded to its true potential only at the end, anyway, I would have reserved it for a couple of chapters at the end, too. As it was, spread out and in between the flash backs, it made less sense. But that was my only complaint.
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You Can See More From Up Here by Mark Guerin is a highly recommended family drama and examination of a father/son relationship.

It is 2004 and Walker Maguire's father is dying so he returns to the small Illinois town he left behind years ago. His arrival brings to the forefront of his thoughts the summer in 1974. That summer he returned from college and went to work in the auto factory where his father, a retired Air Force colonel, was the company doctor. After he was forced out of the military, Walker's father was bitter and took out his anger on Walker.  Walker rarely returned home after that summer. It was the summer he first noticed prejudice when he witnessed a fight between his ex-girlfriend's father and a Mexican immigrant. It was the summer he truly fell in love. It was the summer where his fear of his father came to the forefront. Now a successful journalist, Walker is certain that he needs to reexamine this summer in order to finally understand/come to some sort of understanding of his father.

This is a beautiful written examination of a life-long alienation between son and father and an exploration of the past events that led to it. The narrative alternates between Walker in 2004, at the hospital, sitting with his father, and events from the time his family moved to Belford, Illinois, when Walker was 14 and his younger sister Paige was 9. Paige was their father's favorite child and often was the impetus that caused their father's anger to be taken out on Walker. As he is sitting at the hospital, it becomes important for Walker to write his memoir, and reflect on the summer that pitted son against father and changed their relationship. Unflinchingly honest, father, daughter, and son are flawed characters, but the empathy will be with Walker.

The strained relationship between father and son is an enduring struggle that stretches across time and families, as does a favored child in a family. Walker is a sympathetic character and Paige, well, she just inspires anger as does their father. The alternating narratives from 2004 and 1974 stand in stark contrast to each other because it is actions of a young man juxtaposed with the recollections of a middle aged man. There are times when Walker does become repetitive and the novel would have benefited in places from a quicker pace.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/09/you-can-see-more-from-up-here.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2996209325?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
https://www.librarything.com/work/23752854/book/173787687
https://twitter.com/SheTreadsSoftly/status/1178757445742665729?s=20
Amazon and Barnes&Noble after publication
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A really fine debut novel, I enjoyed it. Difficult family dynamics, long kept secrets and a young first love are revealed in this well-written novel. A middle-aged man is going to see his estranged father for the first time in years, after the father is injured in a car wreck and hospitalized, and the memories of a tragic event from 1974 finally get aired. The story was believable and felt authentic, bittersweet. I liked this one.
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In You Can See More from Up Here, Walker Maguire returns to Belford, Illinois, a factory town surrounding by farmland, when his eighty-nine-year-old estranged father lapses into a coma after an automobile accident. By his bedside, Walker’s thoughts return to the summer of 1974, the year he worked at the American Motor Company loading docks, the same company where his father, a retired military corporal, was employed as the factory physician. 

Walker, home from his first year in college, has never been around a group of blue-collar workers before, much less one divided by racial tensions. After years of living under his father’s physical and emotional abuse, he is terrified of the consequences of disappointing him, so when he witnesses a fight falsely blamed on a Mexican immigrant, Walker fails to come forward because in doing so, he would have to reveal his own wrongdoing and face the wrath of his father. Yet, his silence becomes a yoke that drives him into the orbit of the immigrant’s family and compels him to confront his father, creating a wedge between them lasting thirty years. Despite his efforts, the immigrant’s family disappears, and Walker fears that he is to blame for whatever might have happened to them.

Though Walker, his father, and Manny, the falsely accused combatant have the largest roles in the narrative, Norm, the father of Walker’s ex-girlfriend, Connie, Manny’s daughter, Paige, Walker’s younger sister, and Kurt, Walker’s best friend also drive the plot. Walker’s mother while present remains rather undeveloped, and his brother, Frazier, a rather interesting figure who lost an unhealthy amount of weight to fail his physical instead of being enlisted, doesn’t appear nearly as much as I would like. 

The younger Paige, fourteen, is favored by Dr. Maguire, even as she is isolated at school, and she is a constant source of grief for Walker in childhood, deliberately causing him to be punished, bribing him for favors, or breaking confidences. The adult Paige is represented as a different, redeemed woman but because that transformation is captured in a paragraph, it has little effect. Instead, I found her presence throughout the book repellent, almost as much as the cruel Dr. Maguire and the manipulative and drunk Norm. While Manny was an understanding ally, and certainly a sympathetic figure, I wondered if he would actually be so passive and empty of anger, especially when Walker seemed to develop feelings for Connie.

Depicting an immigrant community and the prejudice against it in a Northern city in the 1970s, You Can See More from Up Here presents a rarely told story which informs today’s racial animus. Within the larger context, the conflict between father and son, based on misunderstanding and miscommunication always seems timeless and at times brought tears to my eyes.

At times, though, I didn’t like the writing style of the book. The dual timelines were presented as Walker’s current life and his past which he was writing about to make sense of it. That device didn’t always work for me since it was unlikely he would remember in such detail and it required awkward framing to achieve. Additionally, Walker’s inner monologue became repetitive at times, and his obsession with Connie and her family was rather alarming and in today’s terms would be perhaps even classified as stalkerish. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Golden Antelope Press for providing an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I don't believe this will be a great title for me. I have experience with similar situations, and fear my beliefs/history would taint the story too much. Not for me.
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A really fine debut novel, I enjoyed it. Difficult family dynamics, long kept secrets and a young first love are revealed in this well-written novel. A middle-aged man is going to see his estranged father for the first time in years, after the father is injured in a car wreck and hospitalized, and the memories of a tragic event from 1974 finally get aired. The story was believable and felt authentic, bittersweet. I liked this one.
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This is a very powerful read. Emotion drips from every page. Walter Mcguire’s Dad was once a formidable character. He was a successful,  driven, accomplished doctor in the military before he was unceremoniously expelled which lead to
him working in an automotive plant in Illinois after his from grace. He turned to alcohol for solace and is now in a coma, with the expectation of death after a car accident. His son Walter suffered greatly at the hands of his father. He has visited him in hospital and begins his journey of introspection as he strives to pen his memoir. Many memories were buried for a reason, such is the heart wrenching nature of so many incident in his life. As he continues memories surface and many are not pleasant. We see times when in order to do the right thing he had to stand up again his father, in an already strained relationship. This book is full if compassion and highlights excellently the struggles that can exist within families. It was a great read.
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I was captured by Mark Guerin's You Can See More From Up Here from the first sentence. The relationships in reporter Walker McGuire’s life are gradually amped up in an engaging way as is the suspense. The reader has ample opportunity to bond with each character as they are well-delineated. The prose is superbly written. In 1974, when Walker was 19, he returned home from his first year of college for the summer to work in the assembly line of an automobile manufacturing plant. The events of that summer haunt him until he returns to Belford, Illinois, thirty years later. Because of that summer, he’s been in self-imposed exile, only rarely visiting his family. Now, his father is in a coma after having had an automobile accident. Walker is looking for answers that his father never gave in the past and is now unable to give. This book shows the long-lasting fall-out from toxic relationships, alcoholism, and child abuse, yet the villains are as finely drawn as the protagonist, Walker. Guerin unpeels the American psyche like an onion, exposing race relations, and immigration (legal and illegal), class and socioeconomic differences that, unfortunately, still exist. He also seamlessly weaves together the past and the present with an astonishing twist the ties everything together.
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This one just wasn’t my cup of tea. Interesting ideas sitting in here but the plot just didn’t propel the story for me.
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When you read a family drama, you want to be taken on a journey. Since there’s typically not a lot of action, you want to be sold on the plot, on the direction and the feel of the characters’ environment. You Can See up from Here does just that. 
It takes you on a journey through the life of Walker Maguire and his relationship with his father. It starts off with him going home due to his father being in the hospital. Throughout the story, he reminisces on the not-so-pleasant moments of his childhood and tries to pinpoint when his relationship with his dad not only went wrong but he never recovered from ;moments that drew him even further away from his father than he already was. 

This story kept my attention for the most part. There were times throughout the story that I was just ready to know the mystery behind the Camarasa family so it seemed like the story was dragging. Overall, I enjoyed the story and think others who enjoy a good family drama novel will enjoy it as well.
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Mark Guerin’s debut novel, YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE, is a coming-of-age story dealing with themes of immigration, racism, socioeconomic disparity, and more. For the most part, the entire plot revolves around Walker Maguire’s summer when working at the car factory where his father also works as the plant physician. While at the factory, Walker witnesses an event between two employees that places him in an ethical dilemma, which comes to alter his perception of his father and impacts the course of his life, even into adulthood. Told in the form of flashbacks written by Walker himself, the novel bounces between the past and the present as it weaves the two time frames together. 

Guerin’s prose is well done, and I enjoyed his writing style. With that said, the story itself fell short for me. The central conflict at the heart of the novel just didn’t feel weighty enough to support a 400 plus page novel, and there was also a sense of the plot circling around this crux without moving forward. Because of this, I felt the momentum of the story stalled quickly. If the novel were trimmed by at least 100 pages and the ante upped some when it comes to the central conflict, I think YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE would move toward a 4-star read for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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***Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!***

I'm very very sorry. I tried as hard as I could to get through this book, but every day that I was going to sit down and read it, I just started absolutely dreading it. The pace was incredibly slow and it felt like the story was going nowhere.

I genuinely think that this book would be great for some people, (people who like character studies or more slowly paced books) but unfortunately, it was not for me. 

When it comes to the question of whether or not I would recommend this to others, it would really depend on what kinds of books you're into. I wouldn't just completely write it off. But if you like the kinds of books that I normally like (quick paced with lots of engaging story), then, unfortunately, it's not for you.
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