I Was Here

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I Was Here
Author(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
January 27, 2015
ISBN
978-0451471475
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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, and some secrets of his own. 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.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

I Was Here
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Think of a darker THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. In this case Cody blames herself for the suicide of her BFF. After finding a troubling email that hints that there might have been something more sinister behind the death, she sets out to find out the truth. What she finds is troubling and makes you see the darker side of social media.

What worked: This is a raw and honest portrayal of not only suicide but how it affects, in this case, the BFF.

Cody's questions on how she didn't see that her friend was hurting are shown in a realistic light. But what is really haunting has to be the idea that maybe someone encouraged her friend to kill herself. I thought of a recent court case of a teen girl who did this very thing by encouraging and also helping to plan the suicide of her boyfriend.

There's more to this book that just suicide. It's the journey that Cody has to take not only to find the truth behind her friend's death but to come to peace with what happened. She travels to Meg's college apartment and meets up with some quirky characters, some who help her solve the mystery.

This story is darker than other Forman stories but an important one that I felt needs to be shared. The topic of suicide has often been avoided or shunned. Forman shows us a character that traces the hidden path to not only find out what might have been the trigger point for her friend but also finds more about herself.

Powerful, haunting tale of a friend that searches for not only the truth behind her friend's suicide but the path of healing. Fans of Jay Asher's book THIRTEEN REASONS WHY will also want to read this story. Also a great possible book club selection book.
Good Points
1. Raw and honest portrayal of how suicide affects those left behind
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Raw, tragic, and ultimately hopeful
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
After reading Forman’s debut novel, If I Stay, and its sequel, Where She Went, I knew Forman was not afraid of tackling difficult subjects and handling them with care, which is why I was interested to see her approach to one of the most upsetting and relevant topics in our society today, teen suicide. Though the subject matter is far from pleasant, it only takes a glance at the headlines to confirm that this is a very real problem facing teens. It is my hope that I Was Here and books like it will help kids experiencing thoughts of suicide realize they are not alone, and raise awareness in the people who love them.

I Was Here follows Meg’s best friend, Cody, as she learns to navigate life without her other half following Meg’s suicide. We never meet Meg except through Cody’s memories, and while there is an element of mystery and suspense as Cody tries to make sense of why Meg would kill herself, I Was Here is ultimately a book about grief, and how to move on after unspeakable loss.

It feels strange to say I enjoyed a book centered on such a grim topic, but I did. I Was Here constantly walked the line between hopeful and tragic, light and dark, guilt and healing. Cody could be a difficult narrator at times, partially because she was in such a painful emotional state and partially because Cody was naturally standoffish, but the other characters provided balance and occasional humor, which I appreciated.

As in all of Forman’s books, there is a romantic element to I Was Here, but it took a backseat to Cody and Meg’s story. I enjoyed watching Cody and her reluctant love interest come together, and fans of subtle, slow-burn romance will appreciate how their story is woven into the main narrative of trying to put together the pieces Meg left behind.

The mystery – why Meg killed herself when, to Cody’s eyes, she had shown no indication that she was suicidal – takes both Cody and the reader down a disturbing rabbit hole that is both illuminating and horrifying. I was concerned at first that the book may attempt to distance itself from its subject matter, taking the easy way out, but I shouldn’t have worried. I Was Here faces its demons head-on, even when Cody would prefer to stay steeped in denial.

Even though the book winds up where most people probably assume it must, the journey Cody takes to get there is in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, and at the end, I came away satisfied. I’d recommend this book to fans of Forman’s previous books, as well as anyone interested in a raw, thoughtful story of depression, loss, grief, and healing.
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User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
3.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
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A touching journey
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Cody is shocked by her best friend Meg's death. To her, Meg was happy and she has no idea what could have happened to cause her to take her own life. But Cody's determined to find out. She goes to Meg's college apartment to pack up her belongings and while there she finds an encrypted file on Meg's computer - and a boy, Ben, she was never told about, a boy who broke Meg's heart. The more Cody learns, the more she realizes how little she knew of her best friend.

This was a book that, just by the synopsis, I knew was going to be a devastating and a hard read. It was pretty short, under 300 pages, but the subject matter it tackled was intense and emotional, as it should be, and I thought there was a lot of development even with the small amount of pages.

I found it impossible not to feel for Cody. I couldn't imagine dealing with what she had to deal with. So much of her character was explored throughout the book as she tried to deal with Meg's death. For so long they were MegandCody and even with Meg away at school and them haven drifted a little apart, Cody still had to learn who she was without Meg. I also really liked the contrast between Cody and Meg. Best friends who couldn't be more different. Meg seemed to have it all, loving family, getting her education, getting out of their town, while Cody was stuck in town, unable to afford college, and with a mom who never seemed to want to be a mother.

I wasn't completely sold on the romance, or at least the romance being a deep one. I could buy into the flirtation between them but I did find the whole innocent girl reforming a bad boy player angle to be cliche. If it had been kept lighter I might have bought into it more. But the banter between them was cute and fun and provided some lightness to a pretty dark story.

There were a lot of side characters I really liked. Meg's roommates all had their own distinct personalities, Meg's parents were still caring toward Cody even as they dealt with their daughter's death, Meg's little brother Scottie was adorable.

I do wish we'd somehow gotten to see more of Meg, a little more than the few stories we did get. She didn't feel like a complete character, though that actually worked for me. But I felt like I was constantly being told of the connection between Cody and Meg instead of feeling it for myself.

I really liked Gayle Forman's writing style in If I Stay and she did it again in this book. It just flowed so well and there were so many beautiful passages. Again, like If I Stay, I Was Here left me with some hard questions to think about after I was finished. And again, it was this touching journey the main character of her book had to go through until she could find acceptance.
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