It’s sad that losing a loved one to suicide seems to becoming a common thing. I fortunately never had to deal with such grief, confusion, and other emotions which come with that type of tragic event. Gayle Forman isn’t new to do those types of emotions; she explores them deftly in If I Stay and Where She Went. This time, however, she takes those emotions and gives us a darker and more realistic tale. I Was Here is a stunning story of loss, redemption, and relationships.
Cody’s best friend, Meg, commits suicide, and it’s something that no one sees coming, especially Cody. Meg was outgoing and seemed excited about life, while Cody was a bit more introverted, happy to live in her friend’s quirky and lively shadow. Cody can’t fathom why Meg would do this, but what seems clear was that her suicide looked very well thought-out, from the poison she used to the time-delayed suicide letter/email that was sent to her friends and family. When Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pick up her belongings, Cody stumbles across some things and people who don’t match the stories Meg had told her about her time in college. Cody soon starts putting the clues together, with the help of one of Meg’s roommates and a rocker bad boy who had broken Meg’s heart.
While I could lay out everything that Cody finds out, it’s not really all about that. The twists and turns keep you reading, and some of it is appalling and sad, but as much as Cody spends time obsessing with her friend’s journey to suicide, it’s about Cody’s journey of dealing with her grief and learning to move on. Forman doesn’t sugar coat anything; she keeps things appropriately dark and moody with bursts of light here and there. It’s also rife with confusion. You don’t know how to feel about certain revelations or people, just like Cody. She’s relatable, and at often times, her feelings come off so real on the page, that you feel as if you lost your best friend too.
Even though Cody is investigating a dark part of her friend’s life, it doesn’t diminish how beautiful of a person Meg was. With each dark turn, something amazing or interesting was revealed about Meg, and all it does make the loss more devastating. The book tackles heavy topics with skill and carefulness, making sure its message shines through.
Once again, Gayle Forman crafts a thought-provoking novel that says a lot about life, society, and our relationships with each other. I Was Here isn’t an easy read, but it is absorbing and provokes huge emotion reactions, which it unduly earns.
Look out for Lauren’s thoughts on I Was Here and her interview with Gayle Forman later this month on TheYoungFolks.com.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman is available wherever books are sold on January 27, 2015.
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (January 27, 2015)
Length: 288 pages (Hardcover)
Source: ARC from publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction,
Completed: January 2015