Book Review: I Was Here – Gayle Forman

If I stayTitle & Author: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Fiction, New Adult

Release Date: January 27th 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Source: Library


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.

Great standalone book

Given my lack of free time I try to stray away from continuously reading series when it might take me days or weeks to even finish the first book. By the time I make it to the next book I get confused about whats going on and who is who. I do read series (quite a few) don’t get me wrong but when I know my free time will be lacking for a particular work week I pick up a quick standalone to keep me company. That being said I found myself with some free time this past Friday and knew my TBR pile was quickly adding up. I had just picked up a few books from the library and wanted a nice quick read, enter: I Was Here.

From the very first page I knew I was hooked. The premise was out of my norm but the whole idea of suicide and suicide survivors intrigued me. Not many YA authors talk about suicide in the realistic sense of how it could be done and what it does to those that are left behind; the toxic feelings and unresolved anger that eats away at everyone it touches. After the first few chapters I paused to make dinner and grabbed a box of tissues, I had a sinking feeling I would need them.

The characters were so well written I found myself thinking of Cody as a close friend, her witty and sarcastic personality something I immensely enjoyed. Her journey through the book subtly shows the damage Meg’s loss has caused her. Loss of appetite, mood swings, insomnia plague Cody and she tries to pick up the pieces of her life without her best friend.

Something I enjoyed in the book was the small town Cody and Meg grew up in. Having lived in a small town until my escape of College I understood the stereotypes found in them. Cody’s mother Tricia is the type of person every small town has: female bartender, single mother, poor, can’t hold a relationship while Meg’s family is the type every sitcom dreams of and children like Cody see as an escape. This juxtaposition is crucial to Cody’s growth as a person in the book. The introduction of people Cody would have never associated with was fun and at times jarring. Their polar opposite themes are not lost on me and I was impressed with the way Forman tied in all the characters Meg and Cody’s lives have touched by the end of the book.

Finally we come to the topic of Ben McCallister. Ben is everything your mother warned you about in a boy but with the scarred past intriguing enough to keep you running for the hills screaming. I think I might have liked watching Ben change more then Cody in this book- Ok maybe not but it was close. While power reading this I found myself mumbling things like “Come on Cody, just give him a chance.” to “KISS HER YOU FOOL.” Thankfully my significant other was playing video games with his head phones on. I won’t go into too much detail as that would contain spoilers but I really enjoyed the slow burn of passion throughout the story.

Side note: The setting is also enjoyable given I’ve vacationed in Seattle and the way she portrays the places and people is extremely on point. Lots of cofffee/artsy folk for miles.

Final Thoughts:

I Was Here is ultimately a book about grief, acceptance, and growth. Watching Cody struggle with the loss of her best friend, befriend Meg’s roommates, and even fall in love left me breathless and (many times) blurry eyed. When Cody finally called Tricia Mom on the phone I thought my heart was going to break in two. I’m not sure what to say about enjoying a book based around such heavy topics but I’ll definitely be checking out more of Gayle Forman.

Would I RECOMMEND this book?

Yes! If you’re looking for a great standalone or introduction novel to Gayle Forman I highly recommend I Was Here.

Goodreads | Amazon | Gayle Forman’s Website