Book Review:: I Was Here – Gayle Forman

Date started: April 15, 2016

Date ended: April 21, 2016 

Stars: ★★★

To be completely honest, I probably never would have read this book if I didn’t have an ARC copy that I was given by Liz. This type of novel just isn’t my cup of tea. People think it’s funny that I like only fantasy or adventure-driven novels but there’s a reason. Life. I don’t want to read a book that is so similar to real life. I live life every day, I don’t want real life to invade my reading. Now, I know this seems counter-intuitive when I hope that faeries, mermaids, dragons, and werewolves are real. But reading is my escape and when I pick up novels of this caliber, I don’t feel that release. I read to feel that escape, to lose myself in the story and the characters. Now, this isn’t to say that I have never read a book of this genre I didn’t like. I loved The Fault in Our Stars and Anna and the French Kiss. These two books had no fantasy in them but there was adventure. There were characters just like my friends and next door neighbors. I did get lost and go on an adventure. That is what I look for in a good book.

Now, after saying all that, maybe I went into reading this book with a chip on my shoulder but from the start, I didn’t like this book. I’ve had people close to me pass away, even a good friend in college who committed suicide, so this book hit a little too close to home. No release. Also, there was no silver lining in the entire novel. Hell, the name of the town that Cody lives in is nicknamed Shitburg. Cody’s mother didn’t want a child. Cody’s family is poor. She had to give up going to college away from home to go to the community college. Most of her dreams are shot and she is just pessimistic and down in the dumps. I started feeling depressed from reading this book. I kept wanting to give up and stop reading. I kept thinking thank God this is not my life.



Then, I got to thinking. What if Forman wrote this book with this in mind. What if we aren’t supposed to be experiencing things through our eyes, but through the eyes of the depressed. I don’t know about everyone else, but when my friend committed suicide my first question was why? Why didn’t he tell me? Why did he feel this way? Why didn’t get help? How could life have been so bad to just decide to give up like that? But as I continued to read this book, that’s exactly what I felt: hopeless. So I began to think, what if the reader is supposed to see the hopelessness that Meg feels and that Cody feels too, but the difference is that Cody chooses the more difficult path. She wrestles with the same thoughts as Meg, but she chooses life. Now, after saying all this I don’t know if this is what the writer had in mind, but that was my take on it.

Overall, I felt the story was honest and real. The very thing I dread from these types of books, but in I Was Here I wasn’t transported to another time or place, but the characters and plot made me look at things in a different light. Ever since my friend committed suicide I have volunteered with hot lines and donated to charities done everything I could to do my part. But I Was Here actually made me feel (not completely) but gave me a taste of what depression and hopelessness looks like. I have been blessed with a great life, no, it’s not perfect but it’s pretty damn good. Forman makes me want to do more than I have for people who deal with depression, who struggle with just getting out of bed in the morning because I might not be able to save or help everyone, but I sure as hell want to try.


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