I am a huge, no-holds-barred fan of Gayle Forman’s work. I first read If I Stay in early 2013, which was so sad and hopeful at the same time. Her Just One Day series is one of my favorites, and I squealed (internally) like a twelve-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert (circa 2011) when I saw that she had a new book out. I am so happy to say that I was not a bit disappointed.
This story of an unexpected loss will punch you in the gut almost immediately. Suicide does that to the people left behind. The ones who are left only with intense grief, guilt and questions. So many questions. When Cody’s best friend, Meg, takes her own life, it’s a roller coaster ride of shock, sadness and confusion. Cody and Meg have been best friends practically their entire lives, and Cody has never heard a peep from Meg about wanting to check out. Cody was practically brought up by Meg’s parents, and the parents are, understandably, destroyed by Meg’s death. They ask Cody to go to Tacoma to gather up Meg’s belongings which starts a journey to really understanding a side of Meg she never knew.
What I like about Ms. Forman’s characters are their realness. They aren’t perfect or perfectly damaged; they just are everyday, normal people in the midst of a nightmare. Even Cody’s mother, who never wanted to be called “Mom,” is more than just a horrible-parent cliché seen so often in YA novels. And yes, there’s a boy, but while he’s an integral part of the story, the journey of self-discovery (and Meg discovery) that Cody takes is center stage – as it should be.
Ms. Forman does such a wonderful job keeping the universes (universi?) of her different series completely separate. Even if some are set in the same general area, the stories, the plots and the characters couldn’t be more different. And that’s what’s perfect – you want to “hear” your author, but, at the same time, you want the characters to have their own voices.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman was published January 27, 2015 by Viking Juvenile. I got this from the library.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction Romance
Ages: 13 and up