I’ve never read a Gayle Forman novel before, so I was glad for the opportunity to listen to the audio book of her latest novel for teens and YA, I Was Here. It’s the story of a teen girl’s reaction to her friend’s unexpected suicide, and it is not only engaging and moving but also very important.
Cody is shocked when her best friend, Meg, commits suicide. It just doesn’t fit with Cody’s perceptions of Meg, and the way she did it – including writing e-mails to be sent the day after – shows that it was not an impulsive action but something Meg had thought about and planned. Cody is devastated not only by the loss of her best (and only) friend but also by the fact that she didn’t see it coming. If Meg had been suffering, why didn’t she tell Cody? True, they didn’t keep in touch as much since Meg left for college and Cody stayed behind, but they had been friends forever.
Meg’s parents are, of course, also devastated and ask Cody if she can go to Meg’s house at college and bring her things home. That trip brings up a whole new series of questions for Cody and shows her even more that she didn’t know about her best friend, like her college housemates, Meg’s friends in nearby Seattle, and the hunky musician she had a crush on. Most mystifying of all, though, Cody finds several months’ of e-mails missing from Meg’s computer and wonders what other secrets Meg was keeping.
Driven to find out exactly why her friend took her own life, Cody sets out to find answers. She meets the musician crush, Ben, talks to Meg’s roommates, and does her best to investigate the missing files. Eventually, she does find some answers, but they are not as simple or satisfying as she had hoped; she discovers that Meg’s suicide was far more complex than she thought.
Although this is obviously an emotional drama on the important topic of teen suicide, it is also a bit of a mystery, a romance, and a thoughtful examination of friendship and secrets. I enjoyed listening to this complex novel on audio; the narrator did an excellent job of portraying Cody and also read the other characters in the novel beautifully. I was engrossed in the story right from the start and the suspense kept me listening. Although suicide is a difficult topic to read about, ultimately, this novel is about friendship and healing and gradually moving on after loss.
NOTE: The author includes information on suicide, including where to go for help, at the end of the novel.
Other good novels on the important topic of teen suicide:
Falling Into Place by Amy ZhangForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick