Book Review: I Was Here

I Was Here
By: Gayle Forman
Published by: Viking Juvenile
Release date: Jan. 27, 2015
Genre: Ya Contemporary
288 pages
Source: purchased by reviewer

Gayle Forman writes teens in love so very well, and I've loved every book she's published. I knew going in that this book would be a little different, because it's about the relationship between close friends rather than lovers. I guessed that Forman would be able to transfer her understanding of those deep relationships to this format, and jumped at the chance to read her latest work.

This book is very much about the nature of friendship, and what happens when friends lose touch. It's about how we can sometimes fool those we're closest to, making us feel even more isolated. It's about how social-emotional issues can hide in the dark corners of a life until they have opportunities to rise up like a wave and suck a person under. It's about how a girl can avoid processing her own grief as long as she keeps busy- and how that grief catches up to her. 

Ben McAllister is a typically artsy Forman boy, but Ben isn't typically Forman-boy sweet. Ben is five flavors of flawed, and in a very raw place at the same time that Cody is. Their interactions are clunky and ugly, and sometimes tinged with so much bitterness that they seem drawn to each other's messiness. 

Cody is the heroine you're used to from Forman: a wonderful girl who sees herself as quite ordinary. Cody's faithfulness to Meg's family, the only "family" she's ever known, shows her loving, appreciative side. Her determination shines through in her journey to clean out Meg's college room. Her ability to apprise Meg's new set of friends and acquaintances shows her wisdom, and her innocence is revealed in her final quest to avenge Meg's death. 

Finally, the exploration of the aftermath of a suicide is an important and needed theme in YA lit. Suicide affects so many people besides the victim, and I love that this book looks at the issue through the lens of a loved one left behind. 


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.


  1. I really need to get to work and start reading this series! Especially after all the great things I have heard about it and this author.

    1. This book isn't in a series, but Forman has two duos that I very much recommend.


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