Parents' Guide to

I Was Here

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Emotional story about the devastating effects of suicide.

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Kids say (6 ):

Gayle Forman is known throughout the literary YA community as a master of evoking "the feels" with her stories, and I Was Here definitely delivers on that front. Cody's sadness is visceral and haunting; Meg was the only friend she had -- the only friend she needed. And for most of the book, Cody's journey is an emotional mystery of figuring out the bits and pieces of Meg's secret college life. It's touching when Cody connects with Meg's roommates -- Christian stoner Richard, kind computer geek Harry, and free spirit Alice -- in a way Meg never did. As Cody finds out more about Meg -- an indie rock enthusiast who spent a lot of time in small Seattle clubs socializing with budding bands and crushing on players (in both senses of the word) like Ben -- she realizes there were layers to her best friend even she didn't know.

The main reason this book isn't getting the typical Forman four- or five-star review is that it includes a dramatic twist that felt both unwise for Cody and unnecessary to the plot. Without spoiling any specifics, let's just say there's a Catfish-like development that went a step too far for this reader's comfort. Although the romance wasn't central to the story, as it was in If I Stay and the Just One Day duologes, it was threaded throughout to show how different Meg and Cody were to the same guy, hipster guitarist Ben. If you're expecting another epic love story, this isn't it. Instead, it's a complicated slow burn between the kind of guy parents warn their daughters about and an inexperienced girl who makes him change his spots. Not sure that happens often in real life, but if anyone can sell that sort of connection, it's Forman.

Book Details

  • Author: Gayle Forman
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Topics: Friendship
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publication date: January 28, 2015
  • Number of pages: 288
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: June 18, 2015

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