Title: I Was Here
Authors: Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (29th January 2015)
I regret to inform you that I have had to take my own life. This decision has been a long time coming, and was mine alone to make. I know it will cause you pain, and for that I am sorry, but please know that I needed to end my own pain. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It’s not your fualt.
Cody and Meg were inseparable – best friends for life. They knew everything about each other. Or Cody thought they did. But how well do you ever really know your best friend? And what do you do when they choose to leave you behind?
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman is a standalone novel that tells the story of Cody Reynolds. As the novel starts we discover that Meg Garcia, Cody’s best friend, has committed suicide. I WAS HERE follows Meg’s journey as she struggles to deal with the loss of her best friend – someone she thought she knew, someone who she’d grown up with in a small town. Meg’s suicide blindsided her; Cody had no idea that Meg was struggling. Cody finds herself questioning what she knew of her best friend, and soon sets out to get some answers – surely there was more to Meg’s death than there appeared?
Going into I WAS HERE I have to admit I was curious to see how Forman would approach the topic of suicide. I was pleasantly surprised; Forman tells the story of a girl struggling to continue her life after her best friend’s suicide, and what it means to be the one left behind. I thought Forman did a good job in capturing Cody’s grief, and her desire to find out what had driven Meg to take her own life. Cody’s pain and confusion felt very real, as did her desire to search for some kind of answer. It’s a very human reaction to death.
One of the things that I most liked about this book is the fact that when there were hard bits (and there were, unsurprisingly, quite a few) it was easy to pause and take a step back so I could do something else. Once I was ready to begin again, it was easy to dive straight back in. Although this book did not have me in tears, I thought it was easy to empathise with Cody and what she was going through. Forman does a brilliant job covering such a raw topic.
I thought Cody worked well as the narrator, as this allows the reader to follow events from her point of view and actually be in her head. I enjoyed her narrative voice and I thought she had an interesting perspective on events. It was interesting seeing Meg from her point of view. Despite the fact that Cody was chasing a ghost, Meg seemed to figuratively haunt the narrative and Cody made her seem real. For a character we never meet, she existed on every page. The people Cody meets through her search for answers were interesting and well written.
I’m actually kind of sad that this book is, as far as I can tell, a standalone. I’d like to see more of Cody and her friends. Although this book didn’t blow me away, I think this is definitely a book to pick up and give a try, if you can.