I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Publication date: Febuary 1st 2015 (AUS), January 27th 2015 US
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Number of pages: 270
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Source: Received in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion.
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 with it sensitivity, genuity and honesty.
Think you have a heart of stone and that a book can not move you? Then I challenge you to read I Was Here.
In her beautiful but devastating way, Forman illustrates for us the tragic tale of the friendship Cody and her friend Meg, which ends the wrong way. Just prior to the story beginning, Meg commits suicide in a motel room, leaving a tip for the maid and an email for her parents and Cody. Shattered by her friend’s sudden death, Meg goes on a journey, meeting new friends and surprises which ultimately teach us that we can never be entirely sure of what happens behind the tightly-locked doors of our friends’ minds.
The amount of times that this book wrenched my heart is crazy. Forman isn’t afraid to confront the nitty-gritty of teen issues, and which as a teen myself, it’s something that I’m more than grateful for. It’s honest and well-written, bringing to light certain things that I hadn’t even considered as a factor towards teen suicide. By that, I mean that didn’t even know they existed. I feel that if I go into anymore detail than that, I may slightly spoil some of the book, so I’m going to leave it there.
I thought that the way that Gayle Forman chose to write Cody as was very interesting. I don’t really feel like I come across many characters like Cody, and to be honest I’m kind of happy about that. Probably the main problem I had with the book was that I disliked Cody. I didn’t find her very relatable because she was so different from me personality-wise. Not to mention that I found myself getting very irritated at the way she would interact with and react to certain people. I understand that she was grieving but I don’t think that therefore she had a free pass to be so rude. Plus her decison-making skills were severely lacking. But no more than that because we get into spoiler territory. Oh yeah, and I feel like Cody is extremely judgemental.
My only other problem was that I felt the book moved a little bit too slowly. I never got bored as such, I just felt like it need a boost in speed sometimes.
WIth those two things aside, I really enjoyed the book. I eagerly received it on December 30th after being super excited to read it for days. Really, I basically skipped outside to the letterbox and did not stop internally screaming for a long time. But instead of diving into it straight away, I thought that no I would wait for January 1st 2015. That way I knew my first book of the year would be a great one. Luckily I was right. In fact, I Was Here was also on My Most Anticipated Reads of 2015 blog post, after loving If I Stay (also by Gayle Forman, in case you’ve been living under a rock) earlier on in 2014. Seriously, I hadn’t been that excited to read a book in a long time.
When I predicted the romance before reading the book (but come on, you can always predict the romance), I was a little bit concerned. I didn’t know if I could grow to like, or ‘ship’ if you will, a relationship between the guy and Cody going by the blurb. But I was very pleasantly surprised. I ended up loving the guy and wishing there could have been more than him. He’s nowhere near Adam (If I Stay) level, but let’s be honest – who is?
And speaking of lovable characters, I totally adored Meg’s little brother. He was easily one of my (if not my) favourite characters. All of the characters in the book were very realistic and flawed. I felt like I knew them.
I felt like I got a lot out of this book in terms of themes. I liked the way they were incorporated into the story and handled in general by the author. Once again, I can’t really go into this too much in the way I want to without giving things away.
Because of all the darker themes, I don’t know how I’d feel about recommending this book to younger teens of like 12 or 13. Especially with some of the things it deals with. However, they are important issues, so I really don’t know what to say in that regards, plus it’s their and/or their parent’s decision to make.
I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Gayle Forman’s previous works and particularly to fellow fans of realistic fiction. Just make sure you’re not looking for a light-hearted read or you will be getting the complete opposite.
Meteor shower. A great show.
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23362128-i-was-here
(Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Australia for the review copy)
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