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.
When Walker got a job at the plant his father worked at in 1974 he is confronted with the issues of perception and racism that permeate his hometown. As he was growing up there were those who frequently insulted and made fun of workers and families of Mexican decent and this behavior hasn’t seemed to have changed as the years have passed. One day two men up for the same position at the plant wind up in some sort of confrontation. The white man blames the other man, a Mexican immigrant, of being the one who injured him. Walker realizes that the white man is drunk and is sure that what he is insisting happened is not true. When he is asked to share what he saw in an aggressive manner by his father he can’t bring himself to say anything. Later at the hospital he realizes that Manny, the Mexican immigrant, is worried not about himself, but about what will happen to Walker. With his father in the hospital in the present, Walker keeps revisiting the memories of that summer and what broke his relationship with his father. What he begins to realize is that his father was not exactly who he had always perceived him to be and that perhaps there was more to everything that happened that summer.
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. As 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. You Can See More From Up Here is out on October 1st, but you can pre-order your copy today.