I Was Here – Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: 29th January 2015
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 in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.
I've been attempting to review this book for weeks and I can't fathom my thoughts into something coherent so I thought what better time to try than when I can hear a parent snoring obnoxiously loudly in the room next door and when I am slightly sleep deprived? You may be thinking I’m joking with that one, but I’m not, this review was seriously written when I was being kept awake by snoring in the room over, I like to be productive when I’m suffering from lack of sleep.
I can easily say I adored Forman's writing in this book. She is always eloquent and quotable, but I found myself continually highlighting things on my Kindle. This was made extra annoying by the fact I have an old school Kindle with buttons and no touchscreen, so I was always clicking away with the fiddly little buttons to get everything highlighted. I could easily just list you hundreds of things I highlighted in the book to demonstrate how stunning her writing was, but I won't. I will tell you that the writing in this book was wonderful, it was one of the most well-written books I’ve read in a while.
This is not a book to be ignored, and nor is it a book to be wary of due to hype surrounding the author. Often books disappoint you when there is too much talk about them, I don’t think this is one of those books to disappoint, though. It will make you laugh, and make you cry, and will make you want to go out and find your best friend and make them talk to you for hours. It makes you want to listen to music, be an adventurer, to make things, help people, live in the moment, be spontaneous, hug your pet, be nice to your siblings, appreciate your family, be honest and tell your best friend you love them. I know that makes it sounds like it's one of those inspirational novels that makes you feel you should do more with your life, but its not. Its just a book that helps remind you of what's important: family, friends and being yourself.
A did struggle to connect with this book at first, which could be off putting for others but I feel was intentional. In the beginning you are numb to Meg’s death because so is Cody. It’s as you learn of their friendship and what make Meg a wonderful person that you begin to feel her death. Like If I Stay, in this book you have flashbacks and memories of characters as Cody remembers things about Meg. It is through her memories of Meg that her death hits you throughout the book. I feel like you go through the stages of death with Cody, as she learns to accept the loss of Meg, so do you. As she begins to come to terms with her loss you begun to feel the loss she actually suffered. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I like to believe it was, that you begin the book in denial of Meg’s death and as slowly Meg learns more about her best friend, and you do too, you begin to feel the shocking loss she suffered. This is then added to with the happy memories which Cody has with Meg, as you learn how close they were as friends it is then you truly appreciate how heart breaking Meg’s death is o Cody and you begin to appreciate the struggle she is going through.
If you adore a character driven novel then this is a book you must go out and buy as soon as possible. I loved the characters, they were so real. We all know people who are like those in this book. The boy who uses his family life as an excuse for his terrible relationships. The stoner college student. The quirky pixie dream girl. The girl who has trailer trash family who is smart. You see it all and you assume things about them, you see Cody doing exactly that with those around her, but then you get deeper and they are all more than they first appear. The pixie dream girl killed herself and no one knows why. The man whore has more to his family and is a nicer person than he initially appears. The stoner has a religious father and the most amazing extended family I've read in a book in a while. The white trash girl whose mother didn't want her in fact has a mom who loves her and is willing to do anything at the drop of a hat to help her out, even if she does normally come across as disinterested. Forman is so skilled at creating complex and real characters whom you connect with.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I encourage you all to read it in 2015. It is worth spending the money on because I can see it being a book I will want to reread again. It does look at a complex and delicate issue of suicide and it is sensitive to this issue but it is in no way an 'issue' book. It looks at the very real problem of suicide that is prevalent in the world and looks at it maturely. It shows how the internet can be a terrible place for those who find themselves in a dark place and have turned to the internet for help. It shows the darker side of people and what they are capable of and it shows the best of people as well. It looks at how different people cope in similar circumstances and that everyone copes differently. It is just such a stunning read that takes you on such a crazy journey