I Was Here – Gayle Forman


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.

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.


No no no no no. This book was like a trainwreck that you can’t stop watching, but in the most tragic and beautiful way. Ugh.

Forman made me love these characters. She made me want to cheer them on; will them to be happy. Except they weren’t happy, and so many terrible things kept coming up.

Freaking Meg. You were sunshine and a rocket and could’ve had such a good time if you kept hanging on.
Freaking Cody. You’re too caring and too loving and too invested in things. I can’t tell if it’s your spirit that makes this book tragic, or the hope you find in the hopelessness.
Freaking Ben McAllister. Can you be good? Yes yes yes. Can you be terrible? Just as much as everyone else here. But by God, we all love you.

The story here runs slowly and anticlimactically, but the characterization is palpable. Everyone has redeeming qualities, whether that be encouraging someone to get help, or admitting that loans are okay to make things work, or oh dear, even having a son. Each person is so fresh and different. I fell in love with sweet little Scottie, Stoner Richard and his supportive family, Harry Kang and his technological wizardry, Alice and her spirit, Tree and her cynicism, Tricia and her blasé way of things.

The best and worst of small-town living get shown here. Perhaps everyone cares, or maybe they’re all just nosy and bored. And then there are also the brighter lights of the big ol’ city; the way to get out there and get lost. You can meet everyone without anyoneknowing you, as evidenced by that night on the town until 4 am.

This book shows you how people keep going. I feel like it should come with a trigger-warning, but leaves me feeling like a book that people NEED to read and NEED to understand. It’s a conversation that gets left behind all too often. So… thank you.

Related Reading

  • This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales
  • Life By Committee – Corey Ann Haydu
  • Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
  • Road trip books!

Rating: 5/5


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