Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: I Was Here

I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: January 27th, 2015
Hardcover, 288 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary 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 sudden;y 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've read all of Gayle's books and this one by far has taken to the top of my favourites list. Her characters are always going through a difficult time, and she captures every emotion possible and can make me fall in love, hate the world, and break down crying in one paragraph. I Was Here is essentially a story about moving on without a very big part of your life, but so much more than that. Cody experiences first love, first loss and the real meaning of friendship and family. Cody has just lost her best friend Meg, someone she has grown up with but has recently lost touch with since Meg went off to school. Her suicide catches everyone off guard, and Cody travels to Meg's college to clear out her things. It should be simple, a quick weekend if anything, but Cody finds more than she anticipated in those walls that hold all of Meg's secrets. She learns more about Meg when she's gone than she ever knew when she was alive. The closer Cody gets to finding out why Meg killed herself, the more she realizes she lost who she and Meg were together.

Cody is a hard character to love at first. She lost touch with Meg once she moved to college and ditched her the weekend she was supposed to go visit. She doesn't want to go to see Meg's parents and tries to hide from everything that's happening. I totally understand that everyone grieves differently. but I'm glad that I loved Cody eventually as she is a strong character with a lot of depth. The secondary characters were the best part. Meg's roommates were all so unique and jumped off the pages and Ben was the kind of bad boy anyone would fall for, but of course he wasn't as much a bad boy as Cody thought he was. The two of them were perfection together and I was eager for their relationship to take the turns that they did. Together, the grieved the loss of their friend and worked together to uncover what made Meg do something like that.

There's a sense of mystery with the encrypted files on Meg's computer and the conversations that were had with Ben through email. The story progressed fluidly, keeping me reading. Ultimately, this is a book about surviving the loss of a best friend and watching Cody grow to accept that the fact that her friend is gone was heart breaking and wonderful at the same time. She learned so much about herself along the way and was able to accomplish things she never would have done. She was stuck in a small town going nowhere and by getting on that train and going to Meg's school, she opened up a whole new world to herself. This book has stayed with me long after closing the book and I constantly wonder what's to come of these characters. Gayle has done it again and I can't wait for more from her.

"I failed her in life. I won't fail her in death."

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