Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Published: January 27th 2015

Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Page Count: Hardcover, 288 pages
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Find The Author: Website, Twitter
Buy This Book: Amazon, Book Depository
Add It To Your GoodReads Shelf

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 have to admit, for this being my first official review for the blog, I think I cheated a little bit. As in - I’ve loved and adored Gayle Foreman’s writing in the past. I wasn’t feeling too adventurous for my first post and this novel was high priority on my ‘I HAVE TO READ THAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!’ list. With that being said…

I was not disappointed and neither will you.  

Written in her usual first-person narrative we’re immediately introduced to the best friend of a girl who took meticulous care in killing herself. You learn about their friendship, why and how deep the friendship had impacted Cody’s life, and what brought them apart in the last part of Meg’s life. You’re not treated to the full reality and truth of the suicide until the very end. And yet, throughout the book, there are subtle clues and hints that productively and satisfyingly tie together in the end.

Second to the quality of writing and the subtleness of the world Foreman paints through Cody’s view point I enjoyed the mystery element the most. The encrypted computer file. There are things definitely missing about Meg’s suicide and Cody does not know the full story. She takes it upon herself to find that missing element and when she does - she takes it upon herself to avenge her friend’s death. But is there anything to avenge? The missing element - what was in that encrypted file - was tragic and disturbing. I won’t give it away, it’s for you to discover on your own, but it definitely left some serious questions about Meg’s suicide and who was to blame.

And woven throughout the painful experience of losing a loved one from suicide is Cody’s personal journey. Her life is and was never the easiest. A difficult relationship with her mother, stuck in a small-town cleaning houses, and feeling that she was second-best in comparison to her shining best friend. Its through her journey to resolve her friend’s death, to find peace, that she accesses what she needs to find peace and strength for herself.
The material Foreman’s handles is sensitive and daunting. She’s not afraid to touch on the hard, scary parts but she does it with respect and knowledge. If you don’t normally read after-words or author notes - do it just this once. Her note in the end sheds light on the topic and what brought her to write. Also. She regularly references Buffy. As in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She gets extra kudos to integrating an awesome pop-culture reference.

All in all I rate this four out of five stars with extra sparkles to entice you to put it on your TBR list with the highest priority!

Happy reading,

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