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BOOK REVIEW: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

| 26 January 2015 | 3 Replies

BOOK REVIEW: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Viking Juvenile
January 2015
Paperback, £5.99
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli



I tried to write a eulogy for that service. I did. I pulled out the disc Meg had burned of firefly songs for inspiration. The third one up was the Bishop Allen track “Fireflies.” I don’t know if I had ever really listened to the words before, because when I did now, they were like a smack from the grave: It says you can still forgive her. And she will forgive you back.

When Cody’s lifelong best friend, Meg, swallows a bottle of industrial strength cleaner in a motel room, Cody and Meg’s family are devastated, shocked. Cody can’t understand why her best friend would take her own life or what had pushed her to do so. How bad had things gotten for her to not see another way out?

And why hadn’t she spoken to Cody about it?

After the funeral and numerous memorials, Cody does the only thing she can: she travels to Seattle to pack up Meg’s stuff from her dorm to give the family — and herself — closure. When she’s there, however, she meets Ben, a boy Meg had obsessed over and loved.

Could he be the reason she took her own life?

Suicide is a sensitive, difficult subject to write about and only a handful of authors can pull it off successfully. Gayle Forman took suicide and showed just how badly the aftermath affects those close to the victim, and how a victim isn’t always in control. Meg and Cody’s friendship was strong and indestructible, and being left behind is something Cody struggles to cope with. Not only that, but the fact that her best friend had never let on how bad things had gotten for her forces Cody’s hunt for answers. What really happened to her best friend?

So Cody hunts: she asks Meg’s housemate to hack into her computer and retrieve lost emails; she talks to Ben, Meg’s friend and ex-lover, and tries to see why things went wrong. She does everything she can to make it less painful, to give her a purpose. Without Meg, Cody is nothing.

I recently lost someone. Someone so integral to me, it’s like a part of me is gone. And now I don’t know how to be anymore. If there’s even a me without her. It’s like she was my sun, and then my sun went out. Imagine if the real sun went out. Maybe there’d still be life on Earth, but would you still want to live here? Do I still want to live here?

As Cody uncovers more and more answers, she finds an even rockier, morbid truth: maybe Meg’s decision wasn’t entirely her own. Maybe someone else was behind it all. Will the truth give her the closure she needs?

I particularly liked the way Forman built a relationship and friendship between Cody and Ben without making it look like Cody was sleazing it out with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend. There was banter, there was friendship, and there was something more.

Something on his face falters for a second. Then: “What makes you think I’m scared?”
“City dicks always are.”
“How do you know I’m a city dick?”
“Well, we’re in a city. And you’re a dick, aren’t you?”

New friendships are created from old ones and old, dying relationships are strengthened and polished. Gayle Forman delivers a story of heartbreak and betrayal and shows you just how important hope and trust are in life.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

Comments (3)

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  1. Great review, sounds like it was a tricky book to get right. If the tone had been slightly off it would have ruined it. Sounds good though!

  2. Amanda Garofalo says:

    Sounds like a great book- I love Gayle Forman’s work and I’ll definitely put it on my “To-Read” list! If you liked this book, I would recommend “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven- I just finished it (I read it in one day- today, actually) and it proved to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long while.

  3. Aly Locatelli says:

    @Martyn: You’re totally right, yet Forman has a way with words.

    @Amanda: Thanks! I’ll definitely check it out. 😀

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