Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review - I Was Here

Written By: Gayle Forman
Published By: Viking (Penguin)
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic fiction, Suicide
Source: ARC from publisher

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.

Several years ago I read Forman's award-winning novel If I Stay, and unlike almost everyone else I wasn't blown away by it, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.  Although this book hasn't hit shelves yet most of its praise has been along the lines of If I Stay so there's no doubt in my mind that fans of that book will just eat this one up too.  The writing was truely beautiful, with several quotes that I can see being made into beautiful pieces of artwork or even tattoos.  The story was reminiscent of Jandy Nelson's The Sky If Everywhere in the sense that it delt with trying to move past the death of a loved one while at the same time keeping them close.  It was fascinating watching Forman weave her story and even more interesting that she managed to add a hint of mystery and love to the mix.  The characters were well rounded and while they did some things that irked me there was a logical reason for them to do it, so I was able to forgive the act more than I would have if it had just been for the sake of the plot.  Overall it was a touching story of a girl coming to grips with the suicide of her best friend, along with uncovering the reasons that she decided to go down that path and learning to forgive herself for what happened.  All of that being said for some reason there was just something that didn't click with me.  I appreciated the characters and the plot, was blown away by the writing in places, and was intregued enough to plow right through the book, but despite all of that I didn't connect with it the way so many people seem to have.  Please though, if you are excited for this book and/or are fans of Forman's previous works pick it up.  Just because I wasn't hit the way so many others were doesn't mean that you won't be (for some reason Forman's books don't give me all the feels like they do to everyone else), but I still think this is a powerful book because it does what so many books are afraid to do.  And that's talk about a tough subject.  It talks about a subject that so many people won't touch and it does it in such a real way and that makes it SO IMPORTANT.  So go pick it up because even though I didn't love it I liked it a lot and it's something that everyone should read.

4.5/5 stars

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