Monday, 2 January 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'I Was Here' by Gayle Forman

Hello readers, and happy Monday! I hope you have all had a wonderful New Year weekend and are not dreading the return to work/school too much...

I have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year catching up with my blogging and reading some of the amazing books that were sent to me this autumn and winter. This first semester has been really busy for me and I haven't managed to keep up with blogging as much as I hoped, but slowly I am catching up and I hope to have lots of book reviews to share with you over the next couple of months.

And what better way to kick things off than with a 5* book review?! Today I am delighted to be reviewing I Was Here by Gayle Forman, kindly sent to me by the lovely people at Simon & Schuster who, at the beginning of December, sent me a wonderful package of books from their amazing YA list. Gayle Forman is also the author of If I Stay (the book made into a film starring Chloe Grace Moretz) and I have been meaning to read one of her books for aaaagggeeessss - I have heard nothing but good things!

It's fair to say that I was not at all disappointed by I Was Here.

I Was Here is a heartbreaking, bittersweet story focusing on the aftermath of Meg Garcia's suicide. It came as a shock to everyone - her housemates in Seattle, her parents, and most of all, her best friend Cody. Cody thinks that there must be something she's missing. Something else must have happened to stop Meg confiding in her. What ensues is a harrowing exploration into Meg's life, a journey of loyalty and friendship, as Meg leaves no stone unturned, desperate to find out what exactly pushed Meg to the edge... and why she didn't reach out when she needed her best friend most.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

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.

This is undeniably one of the best YA novels I have read in a long while. With echoes of Sarah Dessen and Stephen Chobsky, Forman packs the biggest emotional punch all whilst keeping the story believable and the topics within the story sensitively dealt with. The characters in I Was Here are so well described, and the relationship dynamics interesting, complex and realistic. I loved the character of Cody and made an immediate connection with her. Forman didn't litter the story with over-sentimentality and pathos, she made the story real. Not shying away from the grim realities that is teen suicide, and the fallout that comes after, I think this is probably the best book to help someone understand about death, loss, and most of all redemption.

Gayle's writing is so strong and I found myself believing every word. The descriptions were so good and so intense that for me Meg was a fully fleshed out, integral character in the story. For me she wasn't a memory, or a representation of the tragedy of what depression can do to someone, she existed throughout and I felt I got to know her as well as I got to know Cody. The writing was razor-sharp and freshly gripping, and I read it in just a few days, staying up into the early hours to read as much as possible. I loved the way that this was a mystery framed by a tragic story, which meant that it was a book with so many layers, and kept me turning the pages ferociously until I had finished it.

Overall I think it's evident that I adored I Was Here - it is a pitch-perfect YA novel that deals so well with the difficult topics of depression and suicide, in a way that is so realistic and so well described. I finished this book feeling haunted, but a lot more knowledgable about depression and suicide, and with a hopefulness that with books like this, more people can be helped and more people will be knowledgable about these kind of topics.

Buy I Was Here here:

Check out Gayle Forman here:

Until next time :) 

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