Monday, 5 January 2015

Earlybird Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Publication date: January 29th, 2015
Genre: Young adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suicide, Realistic fiction

I Was Here

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.

(This review is going to be spoiler free so I'm not going to go into too much detail about secondary characters, love interest or major plot points, etc.)

Both the If I Stay and Just One Day duologies are absolutely incredible so it should come as no surprise that Gayle Forman's newest novel is too. I Was Here is the perfect combination of everything a novel needs to be: heartbreakingly beautiful, effortlessly witty, swoony, slow burning and genuine.

I was instantly intrigued by the premise of this novel upon reading the blurb several months ago. Exploring suicide in a young adult novel is a tricky thing to do, but I had faith that Gayle Forman would pull it off phenomenally. And she did.

Suicide in YA has become quite a cliché, but I Was Here delivered a refreshing and distinct voice through it's protagonist, Cody. Cody is the protagonist that every author wants to write, incredibly genuine, well-rounded, with a unique outlook and a mentality that perfectly mirrors that of a seventeen year old girl. (I would know, I just so happen to be a seventeen year old girl.) She doesn't have a perfect life. She cleans houses for a living and lives with her single mother, Tricia.

The wonderful thing about this is that Cody's struggles are genuine issues that plague teenage girls, such as confidence and struggling to find their identity. But the novel explores much darker themes and is a stark contrast to Forman's previous novels. Themes such as suicide, depression, and broken homes are portrayed in an utterly realistic light.

Cody lost her best friend in the entire world whom she thought she knew everything about. But she didn't, and as she finds out that there was more to Meg's life then what she thought, she does what I think any other teenager in that situation would have done: embarked on a journey to find out what went wrong in her best friend's life. But Cody is racked with guilt for having not noticed that Meg was suffering from depression, and she refuses to believe that Meg decided to commit suicide all on her own, she needs somebody to blame. Every single one of Cody's actions or thoughts was incredibly realistic to what I feel I would do if put in a similar situation, it's human nature to want to find someone to blame. It's not so often that we get to see such an authentic mentality in a protagonist.

The memory of Meg that Forman created was brilliant. We never actually get to meet Meg but the way she is portrayed through stories and memories feels exactly how it should, like the ghost of her. As though someone had taken the coffee mug away but a ring remained. A subtle reminder of what once was.

My only qualm is that the plot itself started of quite slowly, but I think that the meditative pace helped to reinforce Meg's impact. It's not easy to move on after losing someone, so naturally it took Cody a while to spring into action. Meg was such a large part of Cody's world. As Cody said herself: "And now I don't know how to be anymore. If there's even a me without her. It's like she was my sun, and then my sun went out."

Sometimes I laughed and sometimes I cried but the entire time I could not stop turning the pages. I Was Here is a phenomenal novel by the goddess that is Gayle Forman. Forman delivers yet another absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful tale that explores more intense and honest themes than the common contemporary novel. It's contemplative, more than a little bit melancholy and absolutely incredible.

Without a doubt: 5 out of 5. Gayle Forman is a goddess.


I Was Here hits shelves from the 27th of January (US) and February 1st (AUS)


  1. I really liked if i stay and this one sounds amazing!!! thanks for the spoiler free review!

    - Kimmy x

  2. If I Stay is one of my all-time favorites and this one is pretty high up there too.

    You're absolutely welcome! Thanks for all the kind words. :)

  3. Aw sweets, I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one so much. I've got this one to review but I've yet to get to it (I have it scheduled in for 2015 so lol, that's a long time to go). I'm glad that Forman portrays a realistic experience. I'm a little bit weary of the slow plot but hopefully things pick up after that! Fabulous review, Maddie x

  4. 2015 is getting quickly approaching! I hope you love it just as much as I have. Don't worry about the kind of slow start, it's not too slow. Things do pick up.

    Thanks for all the kind words, Jess!! x

  5. Such a beautifully written review! You nailed it, Maddie. Your review makes me more excited to read I WAS HERE. Looking forward to read more of your reviews in the future. Pretty blog, by the way!

    Kyla @ Carmel & Kyla (

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed FALLING INTO PLACE because I did, too! This book broke my heart into a million pieces and turned me into an emotional-wreck. Great review, Maddie! ;)

  7. Aww thank you, Kyla! I can't wait for you to read it and hopefully love it too! :)

  8. Wasn't it incredible? I was a puddle of emotions. Thanks for the kind words once again! x

  9. Oh so glad you loved this one! I neeeearly posted my review, but I ended up having a few spoilers (hidden in tags though, heh) and I thought no one will have read this yet. *sigh* So I didn't post my review. BUT I WILL SOON. I didn't quite love it that much, but I am a big fan of Gayle Forman. She has a gooorgeous writing style. :)

  10. I can't wait to read this book. I read all of Gayle Forman's books and I really think she is amazing.
    Loved your review. It made me want to read this book even more. ;)

  11. More books to read hahhahah :D . Let the Bingo begins lol

  12. Hi Maddie, thank you so much for participating in Aus YA Bloggers' campaign with S&S! I'm so glad to hear that you loved I Was Here despite its slow start. Suicide in YA has become a bit of a cliche hey - it's nice to know that Forman tackles the issue correctly and in a unique way. I will be starting this one next, I hope I love it just as much as you did!

    Joy @ Thoughts By J

  13. I can't wait to read your review! I know quite a few people who didn't enjoy it as much but I am always open to reading other opinions. And I completely agree, her writing style is stellar! :)

  14. Yay! Thank you for all the kind words. I hope you enjoy it when you get around to reading it!

  15. No problem, Joy! I can't wait to see what you think of it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Happy reading! :)

  16. This is awesome idea! I am definitely going to sign up and write a blog post about it soon :) I have one question, do re-reads apply?

  17. Yay! I'm glad you're excited and I hope you enjoy the challenge! Happy reading!!

  18. Thank you! I'm glad you're participating! And yes, re-reads definitely apply! Happy reading! :)

  19. Count me in too. So much fun! Have added my link, but will get my post up in the next few days. Thanks for hosting Mads, super excited!

    Ps. Can we mark off books that fit the categories before we joined the challenge?

  20. Yay! Thank you for joining in on the fun, I hope you enjoy! It's my pleasure. Also, absolutely. Anything you read in 2015 counts! :)

  21. Oooo great idea Maddie! I wanted to find a challenge that wouldn't put pressure on me, I'm so in! :D


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