Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Penguin | Viking Juvenile
Pages: 288 pages
Source & Format: Edelweiss; e-ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
Thoughts on I Was Here
When I first read the summary for I Was Here, I wasn't interested in reading it. And I probably would never have picked it up if it wasn't written by Forman. However, since I've loved her writing in the past, I believed this one would surprise me. And it did surprise me... but not in the way I'd hoped. Immediately after finishing, I gave it 3 stars and noted that it might be closer to 3.5 stars. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I can't say I liked it.
When her best friend Meg commits suicide, Cody is devastated. She never saw it coming. Meg's parents ask Cody if she'll pack up Meg's room at college, so Cody takes a road trip and learns there's so much she never knew about her friend. From her roommates to the boy who broke her heart, Cody starts to see a new side of Meg. And when she discovers an encrypted computer file, Cody won't stop until she finds out Meg's last secret.
As I said, the summary didn't appeal to me, but I believed that Forman could do it justice. Sadly, there's really nothing about this book that worked me. I can appreciate Forman's writing - and still want to read more from her in the future - but that's really the only good thing I can say about I Was Here.
I couldn't connect to the characters, and the story was so bleak and depressing. This wasn't an emotional read for me. Instead, I spent my time feeling sick inside. I can handle tough reads sometimes, but I just had way too many issues with this story. Cody seems like a terrible friend, and it felt like she made everything about her at times. I don't want to hold a teen to an adult standard, but I was so frustrated by her. I also had a lot of issues with the romance element, especially because it was so undeveloped and relied way too heavily on the stereotypical "bad boy who is reformed by love" trope. If you're going to go there, you've got to make me believe it. Instead, it felt like a distraction and was so contrived. I have zero idea why either of these characters cared about each other.
Then, there's the mystery that Cody is chasing: the secret Meg tried so hard to hide. I don't want to spoil this aspect of the book, but I will say that I found it very troubling. I didn't know communities like this existed online (though I'm not surprised), but it's not something I'd ever want to introduce a teenage reader to - especially since it wasn't handled with care. The fact that Cody is having these scary and serious conversations with someone online AND THEN GOES AFTER HIM, IN PERSON, BY HERSELF just terrified me. If I'd been invested in the story before, that was the moment a switch flipped. I realized I would probably never hand this book to a teen. Ever. Everyone tells Cody it was so dangerous... and yet they understand she needed closure. NO. It seemed like Cody cared more about Meg's reasons for killing herself than she ever did about Meg herself.
I wanted to love this book, and I'm sad that I didn't. I wish I'd at least liked it! Instead, I just feel disappointed. It's just kind of sad and hopeless. I don't mind reading about tough topics, but this just wasn't the right book for me. And it definitely doesn't compare to everything else I've read by Forman so far.*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.