...In this novel, [novelist and writer] Guerin beautifully captures the powerful contradictions of the relationship between father and son, which combines elements of friendship and antagonism. The author only gradually discloses Walker’s epiphanies about his dad, which not only transform the protagonist’s personal opinion of him, but also the future arc of his own life. The prose is confident and confessional throughout, and Guerin draws the reader into the compelling story by having Walker unflinchingly reveal his sense of disappointment in himself. Like the journalist he is, Walker clamors for the truth, whether it’s consoling or not. A poignantly told story of ruminative remembrance.
Mark Guerin’s fully-realized debut novel asks important questions about how little of our lives — and the relationships, incidents, and structural forces that form them — we allow ourselves to see. This is a sensitive, clear-eyed, unsentimental story about flawed people who compel us to look more closely at their choices as well as our own.
— Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men
In Mark Guerin’s You Can See More from up Here, a nineteen-year-old and his father face up to a conflict of generational ideologies when a workplace incident sends reverberations through their small town.
In 1974 in Belford, Illinois, Walker Maguire’s ex-military father, Michael, forces him to take a summer job at the automobile factory where he’s the plant physician. Walker moves heavy machinery across the warehouse and fumbles through building car parts on the assembly line, supervised by his
ex-girlfriend’s father, Norm. Then Walker witnesses an altercation between Norm and a Mexican employee, Manny. He fears that there will be consequences if he tells the truth about the incident to his abusive father. Both Manny and Norm could be punished: Manny may be an undocumented immigrant, and Norm was drinking on the job.
Alternating between that summer and winter thirty years later, as Walker sits at his dying father’s bedside, the book examines the dichotomy of a strict father and his conscientious son, both products of their respective times. Its mood is retrospective at first, as Walker reconciles his dying father with the disciplinarian he knew. Sections from the past soon envelope the book, though, and are meticulous and absorbing in their details.
The characters and settings shape each other, and tension among characters results in the suspense that propels the story. Foreshadowing connects one chapter to the next. By working toward doing the noble thing and making amends, Walker helps his father confront his own internal dilemmas. The book’s end is cathartic, bringing all of the emotional subplots to a head. Racial issues are handled with honesty.
Mark Guerin’s debut maneuvers through heartbreak with grace, navigating family expectations, a community’s pervasive racism, and how peoples’ actions shape others’ opinions. — Forward Reviews
A fellow writer often hesitates before reading new work by a friend - will I find something nice to say? Please let it be good! - but only a few lines of Mark Guerin’s exquisite, elegant, compelling prose removed all hesitation and paved my way to an extremely satisfying read. What a pleasure to discover a fresh new novelist in an old friend.
In You Can See More From Up Here, Mark Guerin captures with evocative clarity both a unique time and place in American life and the complex emotional bonds of family and community that can tear and heal over a lifetime. It’s rare and exciting to find such self-assured prose, raw honesty and unwavering momentum in a first novel. I just loved it.
For anyone who has struggled with identity, purpose, integrity, righteousness and self-doubt in the face of an overbearing parent, You Can See More From Up Here offers familiarity, clarity, and for all of the complex emotions explored, a sense of satisfaction.
— Danny Rubin, writer of the classic movie and Broadway musical, Groundhog Day
You Can See More From Up Here does what all great novels do, smartly evoking a forgotten time and place, tugging at the heart strings of our seemingly innocent desires and relationships, and forcing us to confront our culpabilities as a protagonist confronts his own. On the surface, this is a book that explores a troubled relationship between father and son, but it is also a book about power, about race, privilege and the failings we inherit. Guerin achieves all this with great tenderness and an impressive command of story and time. What we see at novel’s end are the far-reaching consequences of what originally seems a simple but regrettable act.
— Michelle Hoover, author of
The Quickening and Bottomland
You Can See More From Up Here is an achingly real and thought-provoking novel about a son’s quest to understand his troubled father and the long-ago summer that changed both of their lives. Alternating between 1974 and 2005, this novel vividly evokes the toxic behavior that keeps fathers from making genuine emotional connections with their sons, and the violence and bigotry lurking beneath the surface of a seemingly normal family in a bygone era (that is sadly not all that different from our own). Its unforgettable characters will leave you reflecting on your own family and the power of the past to shape the present, long after you’ve finished turning the pages.
— Emily Ross, author of
Half in Love with Death
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. 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 weaves together the past and the present seamlessly with an astonishing twist the ties everything together.
— Suanne Schafer for the Midwest Book Review
Toggling between 1974 and 2005, this heartfelt, haunting, and beautifully told coming-of-age story explores the complexities and long-lasting residues of an unresolved father-son relationship, while also exploring class and race differences that resonate in today’s America. You Can See More From Up Here will stay with you, prodding you to consider how your own path has been shaped by your perceptions of reality and how complicated the truth can be, even from a good vantage point.
— Belle Brett, author of
Gina in the Floating World
A powerful father’s looming presence fills every page of You Can See More From Up Here, Mark Guerin’s stirring debut novel about the past’s ineluctable presence in the present. With a steady hand, Guerin excavates the snarled roots of a dysfunctional family, the corrosive effects of class conflict, and the deeply buried lies that only a novelist of great scope and insight can bring into the revivifying light of day.
— Michael Antman, book and theater critic, novelist, and author of Everything Solid Has a Shadow and Cherry Whip
Mark Guerin's You Can See More From Up Here is a first-rate work, especially for a debut novel. The novel is absorbing and engaging. The critical elements of the story are skillfully revealed as the suspense is ratcheted up. You want to find out what happened and will happen to characters with whom you have established a tight bond. All the characters are superbly drawn. The writing is excellent with many creative and visually clear metaphors and similes. The themes and issues resonate in today's world. Highly recommended.
— Geoffrey Craig, author of
Mark Guerin’s coming of age story You Can See More From Up Here delves into what happens when lies grow into something unexpected and push family members apart. In 2004, Walker Maguire is summoned to his estranged father’s bedside and in that moment he finds himself turning his mind back to 1974. This is the year where his father, unhappy about retiring from the Air Force and now a plant physician, and Walker found their lives diverging. When a bloody fight, witnessed by Walker, is falsely blamed on a Mexican immigrant, he keeps quiet and these lies and eventual betrayals break the relationship between father and son. In order to move beyond what happened back then the two men will have to confront the past and examine how it has led to their present…
This story examines not only a father/son relationship, but also how memories and our pasts with someone can continue to impact our present relationships. Walker tries to understand everything that happened in 1974 and what happened between him and his father after that moment. Moving between the past and the present fluidly Guerin is able to show how Walker has grown as a person, but has also found himself stalled by this moment in his life. Throughout he is able to craft something that shows how complex relationships can be, while also opening this story up to an examination of race and others perceptions. His discussion of racism in this town through characters identified as Mexican or of Mexican descent showcases changing tones in American society. It also shows how minds can be changed and education can happen. Guerin has created a book that pushes the reader to think and examine their own lives through Walker and his life.
— Katherin Kleffner for the Nerdy Girl Express
A novel which reflects on refracted childhood memories can fracture as well as mend the future.
Guerin’s narrative switches between the past and the present as his protagonist, Walker, attempts to reconcile his memory of his summer job when he was nineteen, and how far his father was involved in the disappearance of a Mexican family.
In the beginning, the pace immediately transports you to Walker’s summer job at AMC, a car manufacturing plant. Walker’s first days and subsequent stand-offs fill you with trepidation as Walker’s presence at AMC for the summer seems far more dangerous for him than beneficial. All of which is intermixed with silent snapshots of a middle-aged Walker beside his father’s hospital bed.
Although the pace begins to slow upon Walker meeting Connie, and the time line becomes less linear and how much time has passed is unclear, the desire to uncover the truth behind the family’s disappearance never wanes. Nor does the predictable plot twist matter. This is due to Guerin treating this revelation with a tone of acceptance rather than forgiveness.
Walker does not forget or forgive his father’s past actions but he approaches them with empathy; with the will to move on and let go.
Thus, You Can See More From Up Here actually felt like a coming-of-age story - Walker learns plenty about himself as well as his father - and despite this ‘coming-of-age’ arriving twenty years too late, Guerin’s description of Walker’s drive in the Cadillac is enough to reassure you the past has finally been left where it belongs.
— Kristiana Reed for Reedsy Discovery
The structure of short, present-tense chapters mixed with longer past-tense ones worked beautifully, tickling my anticipation and constantly luring me forward, maintaining suspense as Guerin divulged each new discovery. The author skillfully navigates the twist of familial bonds as a father and son confront distrust, lies, and unspoken expectations. Racial clashes and economic disparity compound their struggles making for an intense and satisfying novel.
— E.B. Moore, author of An Unseemly Wife and Stones in the Road
You Can See More from Up Here by Mark Guerin is a powerful and poignant debut novel. Alternating between the past and the present, the story reveals what years of estrangement, lack of communication, and unanswered questions do to a family. Furthermore, by including different perspectives from both the past and the present, the story also explores the notion that things are not always what they seem. The intricately developed characters are complicated and realistic with messy lives and understandable baggage. What I love about this story is that it has so many layers to it. At the heart of the narrative is a failed father-son relationship, but it is also about how the events of the past shape people in the present. The story explores the harsh realities of racism, xenophobia, and a culture of hate and intolerance that is exacerbated by economic hardship. It exposes the struggle for power and the long-term and wide-ranging effects of alcoholism. It also focuses on unrequited love, friendship, betrayal, and lies. Finally, You Can See More from Up Here is a beautiful coming-of-age story about the complexities of family, forgiveness, and hope. Guerin’s impressive use of figurative and sensory language is prevalent throughout the narrative. The author’s style, word choice, and skillful use of literary elements add to the overall poignancy and beauty of the piece. Readers who enjoy family drama will love what this book has to offer.
— Julie Petitbon for OnlineBookClub