Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Was Here (Early Book Review)

Thursday, January 15, 2015 7:05 AM with 2 comments
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I Was Here

Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: January 27, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

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My thoughts:
As those who still really follow me know, I've been fairly inactive when it comes to reading and blogging these past few months. The (most-likely temporary) move to Florida, the consequent (definitely temporary) separation from my beloved husband, and the start of my teaching career have all taken their toll on both my ability and desire to pick up a book at the end of a long day (for real, teaching a hundred 13 year-olds all day is beyond draining--both mentally and physically). That said, I found myself reading this in a single sitting one Sunday morning right before Christmas break, and it was like breathing fresh air again. I literally cannot remember the last book that I read in a single sitting. More importantly, since reading it, I've had a real desire to read that has been missing from my life for the past few months. That isn't to say that this was a perfect, awesome book. It wasn't. But it WAS an intriguing book that kept me in bed until about 2 in the afternoon until I'd read every last word.

I Was Here follows a girl named Cody who is devastated by the suicide of her best friend Meg. The two grew up together, but while Meg was going to college in Seattle, Cody has stayed behind in their small Washington state hometown with the intention of joining her bff in a year. The novel starts after Meg has already died, so we never get the chance to meet her. She stays a bit of a mystery throughout the entire novel as even her own best friend had no idea that she was even thinking about committing suicide, let alone that she would ever actually do it. 

When Meg's parents ask Cody to go to Meg's apartment to grab her belongings, Cody complies. It is there that she meets Meg's roommates and her one-time love interest, a rocker named Ben who is known to be quite the player. Cody is disgusted with herself when she realizes that she is drawn to this guy who possibly broke her best friend's heart, but when she finds some weird encrypted files on Meg's computer, she finds herself becoming entangled with him. It's really after this discovery that the story really picks up and things stop seeming so black and white...which is all I will say about that. 

Again, this wasn't a perfect story. The romance between Cody and Ben is pretty cliche and seems to follow the typical NA trope of an experienced player and the innocent virgin. That said, I wouldn't personally categorize this as NA. The characters are out of high school, but it read more like YA to me. Besides the romance--which is only a small part of this novel--it didn't seem like NA to me, but really, who cares what genre a book gets thrown into? What matters is whether or not it is a good book. What saves this story is the writing and the intrigue about what really did happen with Meg. 

The topic of suicide is a tough one for a lot of people. It's something that hits pretty close to home, so I'm always interested in the way it is handled. Suicide itself is a mystery. It's always so sad when people just don't see any way out of their own darkness. It's hardest for those that the person left behind: their parents, their children, their friends. There is always a feeling of: is there something I could have said or done that would have changed their minds? This book delves at least somewhat into the thought patterns of those who don't see any other options. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It was fast-paced and well-written. I could have done without the romance and wish it wouldn't have been spotlighted quite as much, but mostly I'm just thankful that this book knocked something loose in me that has made me want to pick up a book (even if it is only for a few pages) at the end of day again. 

Would Recommend

2 comments:

  1. I read the synopsis and I think that this book would actually break me. I haven't read Gayle's previous books because all the hype and I typically shy away from that. I don't really like how there's romance between mc and the boy who broke Meg's heart. I'm being judgmental but still... and meh, i've seen so much romance that all of it's cliche to me, which kind of sucks.

    i'm really glad you like this book despite it's faults though

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  2. Glad to read a positive review for this one, it seems like all of the other ones I've read were lukewarm at best. Possibly because of expectations. I'm intrigued enough with the plot that I'm sure I'll be reading this one. Great review and glad you're back reviewing! ~Pam

    ReplyDelete

Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!