Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Publication Date: January 27th 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suicide, Friendship, Family


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.


Had you shoved this book at me without any author name written and with the single order to ‘‘Read.This.Book,’’ I never would have guessed that Gayle Forman wrote this story.

Because this is no breathtaking If I Stay, nor inspiring Where She Went. Not only do I think that the author rested on her laurels with the writing of this book, if we compare to the ones mentioned above, but I’m certain this could have successfully worked, had it been done a little differently.

In the first place, I have to bring up the fact that this relates Cody’s experience with loss, the way she reacts after learning her best friend, Meg, committed suicide. She, like most people, doesn’t want to let go just yet…because she doesn’t understand how she never saw any ‘‘signs’’ and she internally blames herself from not being able to prevent this from happening. So she digs deep, and tries to find anything that might give her an explanation and answer to this question : Why?

This has been done before, no denying here…but Gayle Forman did add something new to this scenario: suicide support groups, as for people who are thinking about killing themselves, but need a little more prompting, motivation to commit the final act.

That’s what kept me on continuing this read. I couldn’t just stop myself halfway in the plot, even if many of this book’s constituents, such as the romance, the slow pacing, the main character, Meg, made me quickly lose interest. I HAD to know the conclusion to this novel…and I must say that I was not impressed. I could have predicted that, and I guess I did – somewhat, but it still was underwhelming.

Cody was a good person, when I think of it, but was she a good character to read about? I have to say no, because there was this ‘‘openness’’ missing from her. I looked back while writing this review, and realized that Cody didn’t share much about herself during the read. Same for Meg, something that irritated me. When characters keep telling me how this girl or this boy is so special and that not knowing him/her is regretful, it exasperates me, but only if the person in question isn’t presented well; if I cannot imagine for myself what incredibility lays inside him/her. And that’s the problem: for Meg, I couldn’t see any of this ‘‘incredibility,’’ since the heroine didn’t care to present her to us in detail.

The romance was a big ‘‘bad-boy-turned-good’’ cliché. But it still could have worked! Ben was pretty believable in his role, but, when there’s no romantic chemistry between two people, it is most likely that I will not be credulous into thinking that they will last as a couple.

I feel sorry for saying this, but I’m so glad to be done with this read. Now I can focus on A Discovery of Witches.


28 thoughts on “Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

  1. Oh I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. I heard nice things about this one and I confess that I was curious. I haven’t tried a book by the author so well maybe I should try with something else first. thanks for the review.


  2. I wasn’t a big fan of If I Stay, but I really enjoyed Just One Day by Gayle Forman. This novel seems to disappoint quite a few people. I haven’t read a positive review of it yet. But I think I’ll still read it just to see how I feel about it.


  3. Currently listening to this one… And I have to agree. There’s nothing particularly good or breathtaking about this one so far. The romance is lukewarm at most…. I’m jusbreadong to find out what’s going on…


  4. I am so sad this was a dud. So many people are saying the same thing and I really had high hopes for this. I don’t think I will even bother reading it now. Nothing worse than being let down by a book you were excited for.

    Wonderful review Lola, I hope you have a great weekend! 😀


  5. I am so sorry to hear that you didn’t like this one and that you were just happy to be finished. It sounds like it had some promise. I haven’t read anything by this author yet, but have had If I Stay on my list for a while. Maybe I should start with that one!


  6. I wasn’t ever a huge fan of Gayle Forman, but I was willing to give this book a chance and like you said, I was disappointed. I just couldn’t feel sympathy for Cody because we never really knew anything about Meg…. I hope your next book works out better than this one!


  7. I haven’t come across many positive reviews for this one, it seems that this one was a difficult book for many people. Admittedly, i was interested in it at first since i’m all for books with heavy topics but i’ve noticed that i haven’t been a big fan of Forman’s books in a while. not since Where She Went. i’m sorry this one wasn’t quite what you hoped for. Hopefully you’re next read is more enjoyable.


  8. Great review, but sorry this one was disappointing for you. I’ve been debating on reading it. I loved If I Stay, but haven’t read Where She Went yet. I wasn’t sure how this one would compare. I think I’ll wait awhile on this one. Thanks for sharing!


  9. I’m off to hid and cry in some corner! I really wanted to read this one badly as I knew that Gayle is amazing with romance part but bummer! I’m not getting near this one. Sorry you ended up disappointed. Great review, Lola 🙂


  10. I can see why you had issues with it Lola, Cody as a character wasn’t all that engaging and the romance was a little icky at times. But I think she was so closed off because of guilt towards Meg’s suicide. Seeing they were once best friends who loved in each others pockets practically, she cut ties with her through jealousy, and feels responsible for what happened. Carrying around that guilt, you’d need to know why she took that final step. I couldn’t put it down either and needed to know why as well. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this more, I still loved it though and a big fan of Gayle Forman in general. Hopefully your next read is much more enjoyable ❤


  11. Yes, I’ve heard rather similar things about this one! I’m no longer sure if I still wanna read this one because honestly–I don’t think I can deal with the disappointment because I have loved each and every Forman book so far 😐


  12. I completely agree with you on this one. It just did not have any of the emotional depth of If I Stay or Where She Went. And I felt like because the book focused so much on Meg’s life (even though she was dead), that I couldn’t actually connect with Cody (the main character) at all. It was so frustrating. I was very disappointed with this one.


  13. Oh wow that’s so sad! I love this author but it sounds like maybe she tried a different style with this one. I’v been seeing mixed reviews all over the place. Sounds like the characters were missing a littl something.. depth maybe? So weird since her characters in If I Stay and Where She Went are so well developed! It sounds like one I would be frustrated with, too – I’m a huge character-driven reader. Great review, Lola!


  14. Every author has a least one disappointing title in her portfolio, but it’s always a huge letdown whenever you discover it for yourself. Just when you think that your fav writer is incapable of putting out a bad book BOOM. And, holy geez, but what’s up with all of the suicide story lines lately!? The winter months are depressing enough as it is without fiction adding to the pile of bleh.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads


  15. Too bad this didn’t impress you, but thanks for your honesty. I hope A Discovery of Witches is more to your liking. It’s a good set up for the rest of the trilogy, but the next 2 were much better for me because I knew all the characters and how the various magical elements worked.
    Thanks for visiting.


  16. Ack sorry to hear this was so disappointing! It’s so awful when hyped books aren’t as good as you expect them to be but applause for you for carrying on with it! I usually give up half way. And I hope you enjoy A Discovery of Witches, I personally wasn’t a fan but a lot of people adore the series so I hope you do too, happy reading ^-^


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