Book Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Posted 01/30/2015 by alicemarvels in Contemporary
I Was Here by Gayle Forman review4stars

Gayle Forman consistently writes beautifully about love, grief, loss, and the confusion of finding your way in the world. I Was Here is another superbly written, emotional story chronicling a turning point in a young adult’s life. Cody has been left behind by her best friend Meg. First when Meg went off to college, and Cody couldn’t follow due to financial constraints, then when Meg swallowed industrial strength poison, killing herself and devastating her shocked family and friends. Cody struggles to understand how Meg could have been in such deep pain without her knowing, and wrestles with her own stagnation and bitterness.

As Cody digs deeper into Meg’s secret life at college, she uncovers emails that suggest that Meg might not have acted alone. Suddenly Cody has the opportunity to blame someone, and she clings to that lifeline, throwing caution to the wind in her pursuit of the truth. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one or a close friend to suicide knows how strong the need is to find some reason, some culprit to throw all your pain and anger at. Cody follows this obsession through to its bitter end, and her investigation takes an interesting and rather frightening turn. Without spoiling too much, I will say I’ve never read a suicide story that took this sort of turn before, and I find it fascinating that Forman based this story and Meg on a real life suicide victim she researched for an article.

The weakest part of I Was Here is an aspect that is usually my favorite part of Forman’s books – the romance. It’s through no fault of her writing or the characters, but mostly the circumstances that make the romance between Cody and Ben, a former fling of Meg’s, fall flat, though there were several swoonworthy moments. Besides the implausibility of such a relationship forming and working out in the long run, I felt it distracted from what was a very interesting turn in a surviving best friend’s journey through grief and acceptance.

Overall, I am very pleased with I Was Here, even if the story didn’t quite reach the heights of If I Stay/Where She Went or Just One Day/ Just One Year (to be fair, that is an incredibly tough set of books to follow – those are some of my all time favorite YA/NA novels). I highly recommend it to fans of Forman and emotional contemporaries.


Read an excerpt:


Check out the I Was Here picture tool on where readers can create their own “I Was Here” moments.



    Suicide seems to be a pretty prominent them in YA right now. These reads are so hard but so beautiful at the same time. I just know I will love this one too.

    Wonderful review!!


    That seems to be the general consensus with this book. The lack of romance doesn’t really sound all that appealing to me, either, but I’d still give this book a chance because the mystery surrounding Cody’s friend’s suicide is interesting to me.


    I love her books and I can’t wait to read this one. I only skimmed your review because I want to read this one without knowing too much about it. Glad you enjoyed it!


    Okay, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to read this one or not. I’ve already read a couple teen suicide stories this year and, even though it’s Gayle Forman, it got pushed off to the side. I might have to check it out, though. You have me curious about the “interesting and frightening turn”!


    This sounds like another wonderfully written story by Gayle Forman, an author I have yet to read, but hope to someday. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to these types of stories. I do like the sound of the mystery though. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Lovely review 🙂

    Have a great weekend!


    This sounds good but also very emotional. I may have to wait until I feel like I have enough tissues to get me through. I do like that what is weak is still something you enjoyed. Yep, need to read this one.


    I’ve been hearing a lot that the romance in this disappointed readers so I’m sorry to see that that seems to be a consistent factor across the board. However, the fact that you still enjoyed this book despite that speaks volumes about Forman’s writing since she’s able to carry forth novels without them being romantically focused. Lovely review, Alice–I can’t wait to pick this one up myself!


    I have only seen that first movie..


    Thanks for sharing what you liked and disliked about the book. As long as there are some beautiful and swoonworthy moments, I think I wouldn’t mind too much about the implausibility of relationship between Cody and Ben. I’ll definitely get a copy of this one. 🙂


    It’s a shame that the romance was such a letdown, it’s usually the aspect of a story I look forward to most! There are definitely stories that would be stronger without it though, and it sounds like Cody’s journey is one of those stories. Still, I have yet to read anything by Gayle Forman (FAIL), so it’s going on my list!


    This one appears to be getting mixed reviews. But one thing that just about everyone is saying is that it’s not as good as her previous works. However, you’re right in that they are some tough books to follow.
    Great Review!


    This was a much quieter books than her other ones, and definitely much darker. I agree about the romance!

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