Review of “I Was Here” by Gayle Forman

This is a look at what happens when someone’s best friend commits suicide and the friend had no idea it was even a consideration.

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Cody Reynolds, 18, learns her long-time BFF, Meg Garcia, has committed suicide. Lately they had grown apart; Meg went off to the University of the Cascades on a scholarship. The girls had planned to go together to the University of Washington in Seattle, but Meg couldn’t turn down the full ride to the Cascades, and Cody could barely afford UW.

Meg’s parents, who have always been like family to Cody, ask Cody to go to Meg’s apartment and pack up her room in the house she has been sharing. Meg agrees, and when she gets there, finds more questions than answers. Not only had Meg just gotten two kittens (which would seem to indicate she didn’t intend to kill herself), but her computer had a whole time block of missing emails, and an encrypted file on it as well.

Meg sets out to investigate, and learns she didn’t know her best friend as well as she thought. Nor does she really get to know anyone she meets; full of anger and grief and guilt, she is quick to make snap judgments, dismissing Meg’s housemates, and assuming the guy that Meg was crushing on and rejected her was the cause of Meg’s despondency. But as Cody pursues her quest into what happened to Meg, she learns not everything is as it seems on the surface; some of it is much better, and some of it is much worse. She, and everyone who were a part of Meg’s life, have to struggle with forgiveness of themselves, and decide whether they will focus on betrayal, or benediction.

Discussion: In an author’s note at the end of the book, Forman relates how the character of Meg was inspired by a suicide victim she “met” while researching an article on suicide. She talks about what studies reveal about suicide, and provides a number of resources about risk factors, warning signs, survivor groups, etc.

Evaluation: There are both good and bad things about this book. The story the book tells is worth reading for a number of reasons, but Cody is hard to like. She is bitter, cynical, and self-centered; she had an I-love-you-but-I’m-jealous-of-you relationship with her BFF; and she acts totally ungrateful and ungracious toward Meg’s parents. When Cody meets someone who turns into a romantic interest, it is hard to see what this guy sees in her, and why he drops everything when she calls, in spite of her treatment of him.

Nevertheless, Forman is a popular author and can bring awareness to teens of issues that are very important. I would say the good outweighs the bad.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2015

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6 Responses to Review of “I Was Here” by Gayle Forman

  1. Beth F says:

    Humm. I really didn’t have this one on my list. I’ve read other teen suicide books, so maybe I’ll just let this one pass since it wasn’t 100% stellar.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    Okay – I’m glad to know it’s worth reading.

  3. Belle Wong says:

    I really liked If I Stay, but I’m not sure if this one is for me.

  4. Heather says:

    I loved If I Stay and Where She Went but haven’t read anything by this author since. This might be an okay choice, but I have a difficult time with selfish and rude teens. We’ll see.

  5. sagustocox says:

    I like the idea behind this book, but I’m probably not going to go for it based on how unlikeable the character is. I did like this author’s other books — If I Stay and Where She Went.

  6. litandlife says:

    Definitely a subject that we need to talk about but I think you’ve got to make it a book about people readers want to read about.

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