I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary | Mystery
Release Date: January 29th 2015
Review Source: Simon and Schuster UK Children’s | Netgalley
From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film.
This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide.
As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.
A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familiar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.
I don’t even know how to review this book. I’ve heard so many magical things about Gayle Forman and how her books have a way of making you feel. I experienced that for the first time with I Was Here. Boy, did this book make me feel. It’s been a long time since I was this intensely connected to characters. Practically from the beginning I knew the emotional investment was there, I felt like I was mourning Meg and empathising for Cody. And this was before we really knew anything about the characters, from there the bond I felt with them only expanded and I found myself choking back tears in certain parts—and that was only because I was around people. Had I been alone I would have let the damn break and sobbed.
I Was Here is a story of loss, heart break then picking up the pieces. And it was one of the best darn books I’ve ever read. It’s real. The way Galye Forman writes and executes her story telling, there’s no holding back. The sensitive of suicide is explored and the realism is made clear. So many times I wished Meg told someone about what she was going through. Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t have been driven to swallow industrial strength liquid. It was strange for mourning a character I was never actually introduced to. Everything was second hand information found out through other characters that were all devastated by their loss.
I Was Here deals with the aftermath of suicide; Meg’s suicide. Cody’s best friend. But Cody didn’t know her best friend was suicidal; in fact, there were a lot of things Cody didn’t seem to know about her best friend’s life away at college. It was as if she didn’t really know her friend at all. This drives Cody to dig, to find out what really was going on and what drove her best friend to suicide. The answers, though, may not be the ones she expects. But will it help Cody come to terms with Meg’s death?
Regarding the romance aspect, I expected it to crumble before it was built. Cody and Ben came together because of Meg, because they both knew and cared about her. This alone had me doubting. Two grieving people “connecting” over the one connection they had, who was now dead? I could see disaster. I was pleasantly proven wrong, though. Ben is good for Cody, and she's good for him. He accompanied Cody on her journeys of discovery and in a way, they lean on each other. They helped each other with their grief, and I think their friendship/relationship was best for both of them.
The ending was so satisfying and perfect that it made me cry. Though the loss of Meg is going to stay in my heart a while, I felt like I mourned her myself, and it was heartbreaking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This book floored me.
G.R.L's newest release "Lighthouse" is my song for this book. It fits perfectly. Last year G.R.L lost one of their own to suicide, fuelled by depression. "Lighthouse" is dedicated to their lost member, to Simone's battle with her demons. It feels like something Cody would dedicate to Meg.