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We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

We Were Never Here

by Andrea Bartz

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Quick take

Hike at your own risk signs never mention the potential for murder. These two frenemies could've used the warning.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Action


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unreliable

    Unreliable narrator

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Quest



Emily is having the time of her life—she's in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of their trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she'd been flirting with attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year's trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can't believe it's happened again—can lightning really strike twice?

Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving head-first into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her friend's motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their coverups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can she outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom—even her life?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of We Were Never Here.
We Were Never Here

Chapter 1

Kristen trotted to the patio’s edge and crouched, long arm outstretched. Her fingers groped along a vine, lifting leaves, exposing the tender stalks beneath. I pictured her tipping over and tumbling off, there and then not there, the afterimage of her silhouette still hanging in my vision. I don’t know why. For a wild moment, I pictured pushing her.

Instead I half stood from the table. “Kristen, don’t,” I called. The wooden patio perched on stilts above the vines below and we were alone, as we had been almost everywhere we’d stopped this week. Empty restaurants, empty markets, empty tourist information centers. An occasional cluster of other visitors standing or sitting nearby despite everyone having all the space in the world.

A snapping sound and Kristen stood, holding up a blob of green grapes. She popped one into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “Not bad. Catch.”

I missed the toss and the grapes bounced onto the glass tabletop. I glanced around, then tried one—it burst bright and tart on my tongue.

“He said their yield sucks this year. You didn’t need to take an entire bunch.”

She sank into her chair and lifted her pisco sour, lime green and frothy. “I’ll leave ’em a few extra pesos on the way out. I was hungry.” She nudged her glass against mine. “You’d rather see me steal some grapes than get low blood sugar, right?”

“Fair point.” Hangry Kristen could cut to the core.

A man with a bandanna looped around his head was watching us from far out in the fields, just before the grapevines bumped up against a row of bushy trees. Beyond that, braided hills cut a jagged horizon. Kristen waved at the worker and he nodded.

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Why I love it

We Were Never Here is a gripping, thought-provoking thriller about two ride-or-die best friends who meet up once a year for an epic travel adventure. It's a special kind of friendship: Even though Emily lives in Wisconsin, and Kristen lives in Australia, they are committed to each other. Committed enough that, when tragedy strikes, they're willing to help the other person cover up a dead body—not once, but twice. They share these secrets because they know they can trust each other. If they both keep their mouths shut, they’ll both be safe.

But what if one of them starts behaving oddly? What if, suddenly, they start doubting the other person? What happens if they lose that trust?

I devoured this novel in a handful of sittings. I was desperate to know what was going to happen to Emily and Kristen, and whether they would crack under pressure, especially as the police started digging deeper. But I was also transported by the evocative settings: the high desert of Chile, the humid cliffs of Cambodia. In these far-flung places, nobody knows them. Emily and Kristen can be whoever they want to be; they can do whatever they want to do. Andrea Bartz beautifully captures the freedom, and also the danger, that comes from this kind of anonymity.

This is the perfect summer read: a smart, twisty thriller about dreamy vacations that turn into nightmares.

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Member ratings (10,891)

  • Linda M.

    Mary Esther, FL

    What happens when someone’s “friendship” becomes an obsession that leads to murder? Who really killed these innocents and will they now target you or someone you love? This is an engaging mystery!

  • Holly S.

    Trenton, IL

    This book is excellent and really shows the effects of gaslighting! I felt just as anxious as the main character while reading the book & didn’t anticipate the twists at the end. Couldn’t put it down!

  • Devan M.

    Bellefonte, PA

    A psychological thriller that’s both pulse-pounding & thought-provoking; a chilling look at toxic friendship and power with sharp insight on how the world tries to keep women’s lives small & fearful.

  • Samantha R.

    Grove city, OH

    At first, I thought the book was moving too fast, as you hear about both incidents pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure how there would be so much book left but there was plenty of juicy drama to keep going!

  • Liz M.

    Palos Heights, IL

    This book was impossible to put down. A great story with unbelievable twists a real pace turning thriller. A reminder that people aren’t always who you think they are no matter how long the friendship

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