Also by this author: If I Stay, If I Stay, Just One Night, I Was Here
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated on 2015-01-27
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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, and some secrets of his own. 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.
Have you ever wondered what the best part of having a book blogging sister is? Well, there are two great things about it. #1: being introduced to the book blogging community! Everyone is so nice and welcoming. I love chatting about books! #2: getting ARCS from my favorite authors! I’m so grateful that April let me borrow I Was Here by Gayle Forman. Since If I Stay became a motion picture, Gayle’s fandom is skyrocketing, which is great! It made me appreciate the early read even more.
I picked this book as my road trip read when I drove from NY to NC for a weekend in October (I’m lucky, I don’t get car sick). The miles flew by as I read about Cody and Meg. This book hit home with me on many different themes. Perhaps the most prominent is the suicide plot.
Did anyone else have an online blog as a teenager and fill it with angsty rants about how you hate everyone and wish you could die? Yeah, I had one of those. I was never actually suicidal but I had many friends that would make comments that terrified me. The scariest part of someone committing suicide is wondering what you could have done to prevent it, if anything. It was always in the back of my mind… Am I being a good friend? Is so and so feeling okay today? Should I do something to try and cheer them up? Luckily, I got through middle and high school unscathed and none of my friends were depressed to the point of suicide. The truth of the matter is that it’s not your fault and people who are depressed need professional help. It’s not your fault if you do not see any signs. People are secretive and good at hiding their emotions. The best you can do is be there and offer up any suicidal prevention information you have available. At the end of the day, it is that person’s decision and only theirs. You can only do so much. I think this is something that many people struggle with and I love that Gayle decided to focus on it.
So, uh, yeah this book got me thinking. A lot. Another theme that really hit home with me was how Meg’s family felt like home to Cody. When I was growing up, I spent more time at my best friend’s house than I did at my own, similar to Cody. My best friend’s family truly felt like an extention of my own family and I’m forever grateful for them. My family didn’t have the money to go on vacations but yet I was able to attend quite a few trips because my “second family” paid for me to tag along with them. Cody similarly did the same thing with Meg’s family; she would travel with them every holiday season. It was nice to have a contemporary YA novel where the protaganist isn’t wealthy/middle-class. I also really enjoyed watching Cody’s relationship develop with her mother. The older I’ve gotten, the more I get along with my parents. I didn’t really tell them much of anything when I was in high school and now I call/text frequently for advice and updates. Sometimes it just takes some space and time away to really appreciate what you grew up with.
I hate to say this, but one thing really bothered me. This may be a bit of a SPOILER so read on with caution. I hated that Cody “fell in love” with Ben. First off, it was the typical player falls for a good girl story. I’m so so so tired of reading romances with that stereotype. Secondly, it felt wrong for her to fall in love with the guy that broke her best friend’s heart. I know that you can’t control how you feel, but it bothered me from a moral standpoint. Similar to the Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I loved that book, but I couldn’t get past the romance, it went against my beliefs. However, I do think it is a good thing to keep an open mind and read about things you don’t necessarily believe in, but it was hard to let my opinions go. Perhaps part of it had to do with the fact that it was “instalove.” If there had been more of a connect and build-up, I think I could have adjusted better to the idea.
Gayle’s writing is superb as always and that more than makes up for the tired romance. Overall, my favorite part of the novel was the friendship that Cody and Meg had shared. It was something that I very personally relate to and enjoyed reading about. I also LOVED when “I Was Here,” was placed in the book. The title worked perfectly and really tied the novel and its themes together. Overall, I really enjoyed reading through this novel, but it wasn’t without its flaws. If you can get past the romance, you’re in for a thought-provoking, engrossing read. Enjoy!
SUM IT UP WITH A GIF:
Tell the people you care about that you love them and are there for them always. I cherish my best friends and miss them every day! I would be lying if I said I didn’t group text them as soon as I finished I Was Here!