– Gayle Forman
Published: 2015, Simon & Schuster UK
Source: Review Copy
This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend’s shocking suicide. As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness. A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familiar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.
So this book was about suicide: Cody’s best friend, Meg, has taken her own life. How can you call yourself a best friend if you don’t even know that she’s struggling? We follow Cody as she visits Meg’s university home, trying to figure out what happened. When she realises that emails have been deleted, she just needs to uncover the reason and finds the help she needs in Meg’s ‘friends’.
I liked Cody. Thankfully, I’ve never been in this situation, but I could imagine how the need to find out why would take over. It was great to see her home life, and what she was dealing with alongside her grief. As her home life wasn’t too great, she was very close to Meg’s family, and despite still being welcomed there, it was like losing them too. Her relationship with her mother was a troubled one, and throughout the story we learn more about it. I think the development over the story was believable.
I also really liked the group of people that Meg lived with. They didn’t really have any back story or depth, but I feel like they all added enough to the story that it didn’t matter. Cody’s friendship with Alice was great because I feel like they both needed each other even though they didn’t realise.
Something that really stood out to me was the online aspect of committing suicide. I think quite often people will turn to the internet, joining social media websites and forums looking for some help. When you don’t want to speak to your family or close friends, finding strangers who understand can be so helpful. This book however shows the bad side of having such an online community. There are various pro-suicide, pro-self harm etc websites out there. You may not have seen them yourself, but they exist. Cody enters a forum like this to get answers, and we see how it plays with her mind. It makes you think about suicide and dying. Could you do it? How would you do it? It’s scary really to see how quickly you can progress from just a thought to having a plan. You see just how harmful the internet can be, even if you thought you were okay.
The only real downside for me is the romance. At times it was sweet, but mostly it just seemed odd. I mean, I can see that emotions are high and things could just happen, but the whole scenario was weird. It didn’t detract from the story really, but I feel like it would have worked just as well (maybe even better) with just a good friendship. Two people helping each other to get their answers.
As a whole, I really enjoyed this book and I feel like it dealt with real life problems that the YA audience should read about.
Now I believe that this book was published in the US on the 27th, but was published here in the UK today so you have no excuse! I would definitely recommend this book – I enjoyed it way more than If I Stay and Where She Went!
My Rating – To see my book review rating guide click here.
You can buy I Was Here on Amazon now.