Gayle Forman, high priestess of FEELS! Honestly, I don’t know how she does it! She has such a skill for peeling back the layers and getting to the heart of the matter, and for opening up her characters to the reader in a way not many authors can achieve. I’m always left with such a deep sense of understanding after reading a Gayle Forman novel, even when the subject matter is completely foreign to me. I mean, I’ve never been on life support, or traipsed around Paris (or the world) trying to figure out what love truly is, and I haven’t dealt with the suicide of someone I hold close only to be left trying to pick up the pieces…but I can say that because of Gayle Forman’s books letting me in to the soul of her characters, I am infinitely changed.
I Was Here is Gayle Forman’s fifth novel and a fresh departure from her last two sets of duologies, If I Stay and Where She Went, as well as Just One Day and Just One Year. I adored all of these books for their storytelling and honest emotions. There’s nothing I love more than reading a book that makes me feel as though I have been granted a special, inclusive look into the characters life. I Was Here does all of this and more! This book is a non-stop roller coaster of feels and my heart just ached for Cody the entire time as I watched her struggle through her emotions of trying to piece together the devastating clues.
We meet Cody when she is just coming off the suicide of her best friend. She’s lost, alone and struggling to make sense of what happened. Thanks to a cryptic note and a desire to understand what brought her friend to such a dark place, Cody embarks on an emotional journey as a way to piece together the clues and figure out what happened. With each new clue, she learns that there was SO much more to her friend than she ever knew. Experiencing Cody’s discoveries through her eyes is so emotional and overwhelming as a reader. I appreciated how well Forman unravelled the mystery surrounding Meg’s death and how she portrayed Cody’s grief and confusion. It all came off as authentic and I was just as invested in finding out the truth as the characters of this book were.
Forman knows how to give us relationships that are fulfilling and add so much to her stories. Cody’s somewhat strained and confusing relationship with Ben only adds to the layers of this story and by the end you’re cheering for them both to get their happy ending. Ben is the perfect foil to Cody’s character and brings to light a whole other side to her personality. They both have their reasons for trying to put the pieces of their lives back together, and watching them try to accomplish this as a pair is something so moving and beautiful.
I Was Here is an emotional and moving story of one young woman’s journey through grief, understanding and ultimately, her journey of self-discovery. If you’re a fan of Forman’s previous novels then there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll love this one as well. It hits all the same notes but in a very different, and very satisfying way.
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.