Cody and Meg were inseperable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until...they weren't anymore.
When Meg drinks a bottle of industrial strength cleaner alone in a motel room, leaving behind a fifty dollar tip for the maid that finds her, her college room ready to be packed up, and a suicide note sent on delayed time to her friends and family, Cody has to come to terms with the truth that perhaps she didn't know her best friend as well as she thought she did.
When Meg's parents ask Cody to pick up Meg's belongings from her College room, Cody begins a journey of discovery not only into why her friend took her own life, but also a journey of healing and grief.
This was the first Gayle Forman book that I read, and certainly won't be the last. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I paid a visit to Amazon to pick a few from her back catalogue.
The subject matter of I was Here is undoubtedly a serious one, but it is such an important one. Suicide, mental health (and in this case, that of teen suicide and teen mental health) needs to be talked about, and in society at large, the taboo surrounding these issues needs to be shaken off. Gayle Forman handles this sensitively and presents to the reader a very moving, and relatable story of mental health.
Gayle Forman is not afraid to present the issues of mental health at its bleakest. When Cody tries desperately to find out what drove her friend to suicide, the reader has a looking glass into how devastating suicide can be, from Meg herself, to her younger brother, to her closest friends, to her parents and even to those people who were mere acquaintances.
"Live fast, die young." Everyone romanticizes that notion, and I hate it. I saw a picture of Meg's body from the police report. There is absolutely nothing romantic about dying young
I was Here however, is not just a story about suicide and mental health. It is a story of friendship, of family, of human relationships, and of finding your way in the world. It is a story of moving on after the most devastating of events, and it is a story of redemption. For the hopeless romantic in me, I was also pleased to see that it was a story of love, with the mysterious, loyal and charasmatic, musician, Ben.
Cody and Meg's relationship is at the heart of the book. Although we never meet Meg in person (instead through her emails and a series of flashbacks), their relationship is believable, and when Cody finds out more and more about Meg's illness, the pain that Cody feels is raw.
The real skill in Gayle Forman's writing is her ability to portray characters completely spot on. Her characters are not perfect. They have flaws. They get angry, they get cross and they can be rude. Just like anybody. The people in I was Here are painted as real people, and not just a two-dimensional person on a page.
Perhaps my one criticism of I was Here was the plot became a little far-fetched. Cody discovers that Meg wrote on sucidie boards, and she thinks that someone might have encouraged her down the path that she took. Cody decides to try and 'lure' this person out and confront them as to why they did, what they did. This leads her driving across the country, with Ben in tow, to do so. I understand why Gayle Forman included this. It represents the closure and the path that Cody needed to take after her friend's death, and to some extent, does give her this, but I do wonder if they may have been another way to show this, as at times, it was questionable in a book that otherwise felt very real.
I was Here by Gayle Forman is available from Amazon.
I was Here was provided for review purposes. As always, this does not shape my opinion in anyway shape or form.