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Gayle, Gayle, Gayle. You are the one true love of the YA community. I haven't met a single reader who didn't enjoy a Gayle Forman book and if you are that reader, you should pick up I Was Here to see how wrong you were. With this book, Gayle shows a new side to herself as a writer and it's too good to not pick up.
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.
Not like other Forman books
What we are used to from Gayle is books that make you cry on every page and though I Was Here is still heartbreaking, it is also very different. The topic is dark and Cody is often very black and white while exploring the reasons why her friend committed suicide.
You don't want to cry for Cody because you know Cody wouldn't want you to. She's a go-getter and a fighter and she is determined to find out exactly what happened to Meg - and of course there are some amazing plot twists in the way of that.
But if you are a Gayle Forman fan, you will still love this book. Though the topic is darker, the writing is still as excellent as always and the characters are extremely relatable. I am more of a Cody than a Meg, but I think everyone reading this book will relate to one of the two girls.
The mandatory love story
The one thing that left me conflicted about this book is the love story. On the one hand, I liked the connection that Ben and Cody (not really a spoiler, the summary gives it away already) have. On the other hand, I felt like it was a redundant part of the story. There was so much to discover about Cody and Meg and I would have loved to read more about their friendship before Meg died then to read about Cody falling in love with Ben. Cody starts off as a kick-ass narrator who doesn't need a man and though I know falling in love doesn't make you less kick-ass, I feel like the timing was off and the romance was awkward. Cody is dealing with Meg's death - would she really fall for the guy that broke Meg's heart?
So my final rating is a surprising four stars. This book was amazing and haunted me for days, but I just can't handle the love story in all these YA novels - writers/publishers we don't need those. I Was Here is a gorgeous tale of friendship and I wish it would have been just that. It does show how versatile Gayle Forman is as a writer and I can't wait for her next book!