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I Was Here Hardcover – January 27, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Cody and Meg have been inseparable since childhood. They planned to leave their small town in Washington and move to Seattle to go to college, but that changed when Meg got a full scholarship to a small, prestigious private college in Tacoma, WA. Having no scholarships or money saved, Cody is now stuck in town, cleaning houses to have a little bit of money to give to her mom toward living expenses and to take a couple classes at the local community college. Those classes have gone by the wayside, though, since news came of Meg's suicide. Meticulously planned, her former best friend ordered a poison that had a high fatality rate, and sent emails to friends and family on a timed delay so that no one could interfere with her fatal decision. Cody struggles to figure out why Meg took her own life and puzzles over a suspicious line in her friend's suicide email. The distraught but determined teen begins to encrypt files on Meg's laptop, which lead her to a suicide support group and posts from All_BS, a Pied Piper-type character who encourages suicide as a way out. As she goes further down the rabbit hole, Cody comes to the realization that she needs to forgive Meg, and, more importantly, herself. Reminiscent of Nina LaCour's Hold Still (Dutton, 2009), Anna Jarzab's All Unquiet Things (Delacorte, 2010), and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007), teens will clamor for this latest offering from the author of If I Stay (Dutton, 2009). Have multiple copies in your collection.—Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Praise for I Was Here:
"I Was Here is a pitch-perfect blend of mystery, tragedy, and romance. Gayle Forman has given us an unflinchingly honest portrait of the bravery it takes to live after devastating loss." —Stephen Chbosky, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Perks of Being a Wallflower
“Irresistible tear-jerker” —New York Times
“A heartbreaking novel about coping with loss from the bestselling author of If I Stay” —People
"As she did in If I Stay, Forman offers an introspective examination of the line between life and death, and the courage it takes to persist."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Forman sifts through Cody’s shifting psychological landscape with a sure and delicate hand, developing a character that readers will recognize themselves in. . . a relevant book as well as an absorbing one.” —BCCB, starred review
"Part tautly paced mystery, part psychological study of suicide and its aftereffects. . . An engrossing and provocative look at the devastating finality of suicide, survivor's guilt, the complicated nature of responsibility and even the role of the Internet in life-and-death decisions." —Kirkus Reviews
"Suicide has always been a subject in YA literature, and to her credit, Forman handles it sensitively and gracefully, raising important issues of the ethics and morality of the subject. The combination mystery and love story is sure to reach a wide readership and excite essential discussion. . . This latest offering should generate massive teen interest." —Booklist
"Cody's struggle with grief and complicity is intense and affecting up until an emotional gut-punch of a conclusion. Once this compelling case is closed, what remains is a haunting, elegiac tale about enduring and understanding loss. " —The Horn Book
"Teens will clamor for this latest offering from the author of If I Stay." —School Library Journal
"Hugely popular Forman, author of the acclaimed If I Stay among others, has another best seller here. This novel’s strength lies in its depiction of main character Cody, a young woman torn by conflicts but sustained by her own sense of purpose." —VOYA
“Takes tragedy, guilt, friendship, inspiration, heartache, and bravery and mixes them all up in a blender of feelings” —Bustle
Praise for If I Stay and Where She Went:
“Beautifully written.” —Entertainment Weekly
“An achingly gorgeous portrayal of rejection and rekindled love.” —USA Today
“A page-turner, tearjerker and romance all in one.” —BookPage
“Pitch-perfect...a moving, skillfully crafted novel.” —VOYA, starred review
Praise for Just One Day and Just One Year:
“Offering mystery, drama, and an evocative portrait of unrequited love, this open-ended novel will leave fans eagerly anticipating the companion story.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Readers were enthralled with Forman’s If I Stay books, and now she’s captivated them again as they fall in love with her characters in Just One Day.” —NPR’s The Roundtable
“As satisfying as both of these books are, readers are going to wish for a third.” —Booklist
Top customer reviews
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That's a very painful difficult experience when you have no one else to trust or confide in. Building relationships takes trust and time. People around her have not behaved in a way to build trust and being suddenly alone doesn't change that. You don't just leap into am intimate friendship because the last one you had is gone there is no replacement waiting in the wings.
All that said i did enjoy this book. Its a good journey story about evaluating your perceptions and first impressions. Muddling through a tragedy as best you can when you have no one to turn to. I do have an appreciation for darker subject matter so it may not suit tastes of the majority but i feel it has important lessons.
One Word: atypical
Cody, reeling from the suicide of her childhood best friend, sets out to learn how the young woman she thought she knew could have done something so out of character.
Gayle Forman gave narrator Cody a sarcastic, angry voice that made rooting for her difficult. She was self centered, often caring only about her loss and pain. I could understand her guardedness, but do often people reached out and tried to befriend and help Cody and she responded with lies and unkindness. I don't think the trope of a **young person in pain, pushing people away yet they keep trying' despite their own agony ** is a realistic one, yet I see it often in YA lit. Perhaps having the loving support of others to break down the wall makes for good drama. The minor characters all had distinct personalities.
The plot of Cody searching for answers in a pro-suicide support group was unique. I had heard about such groups on a Law&Order: SVU episode, but when I searched the Internet to see if such websites actually exist, I found nothing. Foreman wrote Megan's character based on a real girl who used such a site to kill herself, so maybe this was an isolated case or such websites have been shut down. It's horrible to think of something like this existing, when depressed people need to be steered toward medical/therapeutic support.
I like Foreman's use of voice and very readable prose. Even when I don't like characters, she does a great job creating multidimensional people who we've all encountered, despite Cody feeling somewhat cliché.
THEMES: suicide, depression, friendship, romance, family
I was pretty excited for "I Was Here" after I adored her If I Stay Duology (I still haven't watched the movie, btw) last year, I knew I would pre-order anything by her in the future--and I did just that. I received this book in the mail the day after it was released, and I started it a few days later because I was finishing up another book.
I knew it was going to be sad--I mean, even the synopsis is kind of sad. I mean, we open at a teen's (I think she's a teen, all we know is she is under 21 maybe?) explanation of attending her best friend's funeral and various prayer services. So that should be sad, right? But I didn't feel sadness. I didn't feel sympathy for the main character--and it's not like I was just removed from the action of the entire book, I felt for Meg's parents, and Meg's little brother (his portions were probably the most emotionally connected I felt throughout the entire book). But I just didn't care about Cody. Most of the time I found her to be unnecessarily keeping secrets and then whining because no one else knows what's going on.
The introduction of Ben McAllister, and his connection with Meg, and that Cody seeks him out, was a great point and a realistic aspect of the story. I feel like if my best friend killed herself, I would absolutely seek out the last person that she contacted. So, I really liked this plot point, and I liked Ben a lot as a character. He was probably the most realistic responses to the obsession that Cody develops with finding out more details of Meg's suicide.
Overall, I gave this book 3/5 STARS--I don't know what was missing exactly, just that I wasn't blown away. It didn't even give me the emotional rawness, and good cry that Forman's other books have.
That being said, I was a bit disappointed in this book. The main character, Cody, was very well described and the story had substance. I also was impressed with the way Ms. Forman tackled the subject of suicide. However, I am disappointed because most of the story dragged. It told the story of Cody but didn't give much insight into the true Meg. I wouldn't use this story with my class, not because of a rough story, but trying to analyze and evaluate a mediocre storyline and plot. Also, I would caution teachers against using this in class because it may give students ideas.
It is an okay read. I will continue reading books by Ms. Forman. This just didn't really cut it for me.