I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Source: ARC borrowed from Katie @ Polished Page-Turners (thanks Katie!!)

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 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.


It upsets me to say this but this might be the first Gayle Forman novel that I am not impressed by. Collectively, it just didn’t really work for me.

Cody’s best friend Meg commits suicide and Cody can’t get over the fact that she had no idea her friend was suicidal, especially when she saw her as so full of life. The two of them were growing apart and Cody blames herself for not being there for Meg. Out of guilt and a desperate need to make sense of the situation, Cody starts looking into the suicide support group that Meg was involved with, specifically the individual that played a central role in encouraging Meg to take her life. Her plan is to confront him and make him answer for what he did and to flesh him out, she reveals the small part of her that would consider death as a way to ease her pain.

I imagine I was supposed to feel impacted by Meg’s death, sympathize with Cody’s troubles, contemplate all of the thought-provoking quotes about embracing death, but I felt none of that. I felt oddly distant from it all as if I was just an observer. I was interested in her confronting the man that is encouraging others to commit suicide, but I don’t even know if I am completely content with how that whole thing played out. And as for her relationship with Ben, I definitely wasn’t feeling that and know that I am not happy with some of what happened. I get that grief and guilt brought them together but I didn’t witness any other emotions forming between them and I was surprised by a big move that Cody made. I guess they found comfort in each others presence but their connection didn’t feel strong enough to me and all I could keep thinking was that it felt like too much of a betrayal to Meg.

I won't say nothing worked for me. But what I think what it comes down to is that these characters mean nothing to me. I don’t feel like I knew Meg very well, or Meg and Cody’s relationship, to be moved by her death and Cody’s grief. I never warmed to Cody or Ben to sympathize with either of them or to jump on board with what was brewing between them. There were some secondary characters with potential but they didn’t get enough of a spotlight to make much of a difference.

I’ve read some great books on the topics of suicide and best friendships and grief and guilt and I can’t say this fits the bill. And again, that makes me really sad because Gayle Forman’s other books rank among my favorite Contemporaries. But I guess you can’t always be in sync…

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