Published by Viking Juvenile on January 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.
I feel like I should start this review with a disclaimer: I really love Gayle Forman. I’m not sure if this makes me slightly biased so proceed with caution. I Was Here was everything I thought it would be and nothing like I imagined all at once. First we have Gayle’s exquisite writing, followed by a plot that feels overdone yet incredibly touching, which then takes a turn to a rather sour finish. Can you tell I’m a bit conflicted about this one?
The novel possesses a sense of honesty that took me by surprise. Gayle Forman didn’t sugarcoat the gruesome aftermath of suicide. Instead, the book offers a darker and meaningful look into the lives of those left behind. I’ve read a few novels about suicide but this one offers a different perspective. Here, Cody is confused and angry about Meg’s suicide, even more so when she learns her best friend’s darkest secret. The mystery surrounding Meg’s suicide takes an unexpected turn; one that I didn’t see coming at all. If you’ve read this one already, you know what I’m talking about and I’m sure you were as freaked out as I was.
While the subject matter made me uncomfortable, the romance made me cringe (I never thought I would ever type such a horrific sentence but here we are.) The romantic side story was unnecessary and it left me very conflicted. For once, I wanted to read a story about friendship and nothing else. Is that too much to ask? The romance didn’t fit the story at all. Rather, it took away from everything Gayle Forman built up to that point. I think the fact that the main character’s journey originated from the suicide of her best friend is powerful enough on its own. Just so you know, I’m going to erase all the romantic bits from my memory once I’m done typing this review.
Flawed yet painfully beautiful, I Was Here touches the soul in unexpected ways. It is a gloomy book, so keep that in mind before you pick it up. If you decide to give it a go, I think you might need a cup of tea and your favorite dessert so you can fight against the feels this one leaves behind.