Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman



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


Hi everyone, it’s manu! This is a really difficult book to review, because it’s about suicide and so everyone can have very different reactions to it. I think Gayle Forman is one of those authors who can write about anything and make it real, so you should probably read the author’s note before reading the book and see if you want to get into it.

“Life can be hard and beautiful and messy, but hopefully, it will be long. If it is, you will see that it’s unpredictable, and that the dark periods come, but they abate – sometimes with a lot of supports – and the tunnel widens, allowing the sun back in.”

This is a story about Cody, a girl who’s trying to find a way to deal with her best friend suicide. Cody and Meg were more than just friends, they were more like sisters. Cody is an only child and her mom had her when she was really young and so Cody believes that she would have been a lot better without her. Meg’s family basically adopted Cody.

Sometimes we meet people and are so symbiotic with them, it’s as if we are one person, with one mind, one destiny.

When Meg dies it comes as a shock to everyone, she was one of those bright people who everyone believes has everything and is happy, and her drinking poison in a motel and sending the people she cared for an e-mail in which she said her goodbyes left everyone speechless and it was really hard for Cody to understand. But Meg was depressed; I really liked that no one knew about her depression because I think that’s how it happens, when you’re depressed you don’t go around telling everyone about it, I think it’s something that builds quietly inside one’s mind and heart. But you can’t fight depression by yourself, you need help and to get help you need to open up to someone. Meg did, in a way, but with the wrong people, and that’s one of the reasons why she ended up committing suicide.

I am tempted to inhale those sheets. If I do, maybe it will be enough to erase everything. But you can only hold your breath for so long. Eventually, I’ll have to exhale her, and then it’ll be like those mornings, when I wake up, forgetting before remembering.

After high school Meg left town to go to Tacoma to study, Cody was supposed to go with her but she didn’t get the scholarship and in the end it was Meg’s dream not Cody’s. So after the suicide, Meg’s parents ask Cody to go to Meg’s  dorm and take back her stuff; Cody meets Meg’s roommates and finds weird stuff on her computer. Maybe Meg didn’t do all this by herself, maybe Cody can find out what happened to her best friend. That’s how she finds out about Ben, a guy who Meg had a crush on.

“What happened?” I ask. “Did you get bored with her? Is that what happens with you and girls? It’s a failure of imagination, because if you had gotten to know her at all, you would never have gotten tired of her. I mean, she was Meg Garcia, and who the hell are you, Ben McCallister, to tell her to leave you alone?”

Cody is angry, she blames herself for not noticing anything wrong with Meg, and that’s probably why she’s looking for someone to put the blame on. So when Ben comes along Cody throws all her frustration and sadness at him. But Ben isn’t a bad guy. Unfortunately we don’t know how much our actions influence other people’s lives until it’s too late. Ben and Meg were friends and after a one time thing their relationship became weird, Ben had no idea of what Meg was going through. Plus it definitely wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t the main reason for Meg’s suicide, he was just another thing went wrong that pushed her one more step closer to the edge.

He looks both nervous and relieved, and once again his face is like a mirror, reflecting my feelings, because that’s exactly what’s going on with me.

Meg left two kittens behind, Pete and Repeat, and Ben decides to adopt them, so that’s something that brought Cody and him together, aside from trying to find out who helped Meg; as they spend time together, a unique bond developes between them, I really don’t know how to describe it. But they make sense to each other even though they’re completly different, Ben is the only one who seems able to help Cody. But the romance really isn’t the focus in this book.

“I’ll go where you go.” A simple statement that feels like a blanket.

On this quest to uncover Meg’s decisions, Cody finds out about a suicide group online that Meg was a part of… That’s where Meg shared her thoughts, her fears, and that she was thinking about suicide. Here’s another important topic; this is real, there are really people on the internet sharing their souls with strangers, and sometimes, they do it with the wrong people. Being anonymous on the internet is both a blessing and a weapon, so be careful who you talk to, and what you say because you never know what that person is going through, you never know what harmless thoughts may trigger in someone else. This suicide group really pushed Meg off the edge. Especially a guy, All_BS, who talked a lot with her, and with all his philosophy bullshit, assured her that suicide was the right answer. These are very difficult topics and I don’t really know what I’m talking about because I never experienced something like this and neither did anyone I know, so I’m only talking based on what I believe and what I’ve learned by reading.

I’m not crying because of how much I hurt. I’m crying because of how much I feel.

In the end I think Gayle Forman did an amazing job with this book, and again, reading the author’s note will help you understand better the suicide topic. What I loved most about I Was Here is Cody’s character development, she started off as an angry girl who believed she was no one because really she was only the shadow of her best friend, and ended up as her own person, she finally found herself and the courage to let go.

The sunless planet who turned out to have some light left in her after all.

So I really loved this book, and Gayle Forman’s writing is so unique and her characters so heartfelt, I couldn’t stop reading. As for every book about suicide, I don’t feel like recommending it to everyone, especially since in this one there are a lot of e-mails between people who believe suicide is the only way to stop hurting; and even though those make the book more realistic and, in a way, meaningful, at least for me, they may also trigger suicidal thoughts.

Let me know what you think about it if you read it!

manuela calloway sisters


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