Book Review: I was here

Title: I was here

Author: Gayle Forman


Cody and Meg are best friends. Or they have been until Meg committed suicide. Cody feels double-crossed, lonely and unable to understand why Meg would do something like that. Meg had everything, she was a young and successful student, and nobody would even think about her doing something like that.

When Meg’s parents ask Cody if she could pack up her things in her college room, Cody meets Meg’s roommates and discovers some strange encrypted computer files. She also meets Ben, a guy who broke Meg’s heart. Through Meg’s new friends and browsing through her computer, Cody discovers things about Meg’s life that she had not known before. And she starts questioning some things about Meg’s death.

The book attracted me because of the subject – suicide. I was curious how Forman will represent this problem and how, if at all, will include different aspects of this topic.

As I have already mentioned, the main topic in this book is the suicide of Meg and how her best friend Cody is facing her death. I was afraid that the book will be very cliché and at times it actually was. Meg is presented as the best, most beautiful and most hardworking person in the world who was without mistakes and imperfections. And of course, this is also the reason that her suicide was an even greater shock for everyone. I don’t know whether the author has here deliberately exaggerated the positive features of Meg, just to highlight this aspect, how even the best can give up. It seems to me that this was not necessary and that any death by suicide should be considered the same. For me personally, it’s the same if someone successful commits suicide as well as if it’s done by someone who thinks he’s full of mistakes and not worth anything.

Consequently, we get to the second cliche, that nobody is perfect and we’re not persons we appear outwardly. Each of us has their secrets, desires, fears. And of course, we do not share them with the world. And even that we have best friends, we keep some things for ourselves. But Cody can’t understand that. She thinks it’s unlikely that Meg would hide things from her, wouldn’t tell her about some things in her life and actually lived a very different life that Cody thought she’s living. But I noticed, that at the same time, Cody was doing same to Meg. She never told Meg how she felt when Meg left her, going to college and she couldn’t go. When she had to stay in a small town, working as a maid. And here author really managed to capture Cody’s feelings – by assembling pieces of Meg’s life, increases her sense of guilt that she started to felt right after Meg’s suicide. She’s angry because she apparently didn’t know Meg as good as she thought she did but at the same time she feels regret because they weren’t in touch as they promised they would be. Cody is constantly asking herself whether it might be different if she would try harder. But all characters in this book feels the same – Cody, Meg’s parents, her roommates/friends, even Ben, the guy who broke Megs heart. Of course, Cody, at first, can’t reconcile with her death and she’s blaming herself for what happened. And later she’s blaming someone else and trying to find a proof about it. But in this process, she learns a lot about herself and starts asking herself questions like, how it would be if she would die.

I liked how at the end they all come to the conclusion that Meg’s death was not their fault. Meg wanted that. Guilt can only be hers. And here author pointed out what’s important about suicides – people feeling guilty or angry. All are wondering if it would be possible to do something, anything, just to prevent a tragic act.

A thing that was totally unnecessary to me in this book was a romance between Cody and one of Meg’s friends. Perhaps it would be different if romance would develop in the first half of the book. But in this case, a reader has to wait until the end of a book, which I thought was pretty lame.

I still have mixed feelings about Cody. I would say she’s realistic and nice girl. But at times, I couldn’t understand her acts and behavior.

I can understand her rage after Meg’s death – Meg had it all, Cody almost nothing, and yet she gave up. But I am not able to understand how Cody has not grown beyond her child worship of her best friend. Even after her death, Cody still thinks she was the best and everything Meg has done was perfect.

“I was just basking in her glow.”

“But if that happens to normal, what hope is there for the rest of us?”

“It was secondhand through Meg. Like pretty much everything in my life.”

I also blame her for not appreciating herself at all. Everyone likes her (even when Meg is dead) but she just can’t see it and thinks that they like her just because she was Megs friend. But toward the end of the book, she starts to realize it’s not like that. I was also bothered about her whining of losing best friend and loss of a loved one but in the same time, she’s not able to appreciate the support of her friends. The love she receives. She’s constantly declining friendliness of Meg’s parents, friends, and Ben. Sometimes I had felt that she’s using them just to get what she wants.

Nevertheless, I thought this book was good. Because of the characters I gave this book fewer stars, but still I think that main topic (suicide) was well presented. Forman did a great job with showing how people are dealing with a suicide of loved ones, which I found very positive. We usually read only about the ones who committed suicide or wants to commit it.

Fortunately, I never had to face a loss of someone who committed suicide. And I can only hope that I will never have to. Yet, I think it’s good to read about that kind of topics because you start to questioning yourself and thinking about important life questions. Which after all is a point of reading.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? If you did, what are your thoughts? Like it or not? Do you know any other book that deals with suicide topic and you would recommend it?


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