I Was Here – Gayle Forman



  • Simon & Schuster
  • 288 pages |
  • ISBN 9781471124396 |
  • February 2015

List Price

AU$ 19.99

NZ$ 21.99

Many of you will already be familiar with Gayle Forman’s If I Stay – either the book or the blockbuster movie, or indeed her other work. Having been pretty much focused on YA for boys for the past year, that one passed me by.  However, having just finished the proof copy of this latest of her novels, I feel I will be backpedaling to find more. Elegant prose, moving without being cloying, completely engrossing and utterly fascinating, I Was Here explores sadly all too common issues of depression, mental health and teen suicide.

18 year old Cody struggles with the despair and grief she experiences following the suicide of her best friend, Meg. The closest of friends since kindergarten days, Cody realises that since Meg went away to university, she has lost the same intimacy they had always shared and when Meg’s parents ask Cody to go and retrieve Meg’s belongings from her university digs, she is struck anew by how much of Meg’s recent history is hidden from her.

Gradually, Cody begins to understand that the incomprehensible suicide of her friend may have been encouraged by external agents – or to be specific an external agent.  Her initial distrust of Meg’s Washington friends – in particular, the attractive Ben with whom Meg had had a liaison at one time – is broken down as each in turn, becomes part of her sleuthing mission to uncover Meg’s last months and days.

Cody discovers as much about her own inner thoughts, feelings and life as she does Meg’s during her journey – and finds that love comes unexpectedly and unlooked for from unlikely quarters, and healing is possible in spite of everything.

Though the publisher’s website suggests this is a novel for readers aged 12 up, I would strongly suggest that if you are contemplating it for your library collection, it is most definitely Senior Fiction. Plentiful strong language, drug and sexual references could cause consternation for younger readers (or their parents!).  However, given the focus we should be putting on these issues with our young people, there is most definitely much to be explored, examined and evaluated in this narrative.

I would highly recommend it – but repeat, I will be designating this as Senior Fiction in my own library.

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