Friday, 6 February 2015

Book Review | I Was Here by Gayle Forman.

"From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film.

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." (synopsis and picture from (x)

I screamed when my old boss called me up and was like, 'do you want a proof copy of Gayle Forman's new book?' I wish I hadn't, but I did actually scream. Needless to say, my expectations were high. Unfortunately, I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Cody's been best friends with Meg since forever, and when Meg ends her life, Cody doesn't know how to cope. When she goes up to Meg's college town to pack her belongings, Cody realises that a lot remained unsaid between them. And she was going to figure out what.

I just want to start off this review by saying that I think this book might be perhaps a little more appropriate for an older audience. Now that that's out of the way, let's begin!

Like I mentioned above, I had very high expectations for this book. And while Forman does a good job with some elements of the novel, I found other aspects were severely lacking. But first: the good things.

I liked Cody. I liked her snark and sass and I appreciated that she was trying to mourn in her own way. Because mourning is a really personal thing, and nobody does it in the same manner. Likewise, I think the author did a great job with most of the secondary characters. She fleshes (most) of them out in a way that makes you connect to them quickly.

That's in part to the writing. I loved the writing. I can never fault Gayle Forman for her writing. The voice she created was clear and wonderful.

The biggest thing, however, that I think the author does the best - the most important thing - is how she looks at suicide and how it affects loved ones. Because that's what this story is about: it's about a girl who has lost her best friend and feels like half of her life has been lost and she doesn't know where to go. It's about her figuring out how to pick up the pieces and keep moving. And it's something I don't think enough people pay attention to. The what-happens-after.

There are, however, some not so great things.

Firstly, Ben. He didn't convince me as a love interest. He wasn't well-fleshed out and I felt like his and Cody's relationship was stilted at best. There just wasn't the spark between the two that I'd seen in her previous novels. Also, Ben tended to growl a lot. This was hugely amusing to me. Did anyone else pick that up?

I also wish we'd been able to see more of Meg and Cody's relationship. I understand that Meg is dead, so it makes things a little difficult, but. But. Because I didn't see a lot of their friendship on the page, I found it hard to believe that they were best friends.

More than anything, I guess I'm just a little disappointed. I Was Here didn't move me nearly as much as her other novels have. While some elements were wonderfully done, and Forman's portrayal of grief was exquisite, I found the lack of development in the key friendship stilted the book. 3 stars.

Rating: *** (3 stars)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Publication Date: 1st February 2015

Want to buy this book? You can get it here:

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