Review of I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Published: 29th January 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children
Pages: 288


I Was Here follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend’s shocking suicide. As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.


Thank you to Simon & Schuster for kindly sending me a review copy.

The narrative begins with an email from Meg to Cody; informing her she’s gone and it’s too late. The pace of the book moves very quickly into the funeral process so readers are never really given a chance to see how Cody reacted to the news. When Cody talks of how she didn’t want to visit Meg in Seattle; my initial thought was of how they weren’t really best friends and if they were, they’d want to visit one another as much as possible.

“I’ll be home for dinner. Not that there’ll be dinner.”

The guitar playing, handsome singing young man Ben was a great addition to the plot. Meg was the only thing they had in common at the beginning but as the plot grew, they opened up and it was really sweet to see their friendship form. When they team up to solve the mystery of Meg’s death, the plot really came alive. Alongside the jigsaw solving plot, there is an underline of a difficult subplot regarding her poor excuse of a mother – would this plot be solved as well? Would Cody’s mother feel anything when her child was put in danger?

“It’s almost like she’s protecting someone.” 

As the plot continues, it’s Meg’s laptop which holds the information which Cody is very desperate to have. Despite not knowing what any character looked like (apart from the small description very late on), the descriptive words from Gayle were enough for me to build my own imagery of them.

“When you die, you’re not a person anymore and privacy kind of becomes a moot point.”

Gayle’s writing style is simple, straight forward and easy to get caught up in. Within a couple of hours, seventy per cent of the book had vanished before my eyes – I wasn’t hooked, but I was certainly interested in what would happen towards the end. I found that as the plot did come nearer the finishing line, the plot remained at the same pace; there was no real fight to discover the truth from any of the characters and that was a slight let down.

“That’s the difference between you and me: I learn from my mistakes.”

The ending of the plot revealed the truth; a piece of information which would have saved Cody from making a big trip and putting her own life in danger. Seriously? Overall, I liked the narrative but the ending was a big let down for me. There was no conclusion, no real fight, no passion in hunting out the truth and that’s a real shame because it could have been a truly magnificent book.

Twitter: @gayleforman