Source: ARC from Simon and Schuster (Thank you so much!)
This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend’s shocking suicide.
As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.
A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty
I actually have tears in my eyes as I write this review and listening to Fireflies by Bishop Allen which is the song mentioned a lot in the book (thank you so much to Gayle for introducing me to Bishop Allen!). When you hear praise for this book, believe them when they say how powerful this book is. I think this will be a book where most people will have mixed feelings about. I have to say, I expected to go into this book, crying through every moment of it like I was during If I Stay but I didn’t. I didn’t actually cry, I only teared up at the end. I should’ve chosen another day to read a deep and heartfelt book, especially since I read this on Christmas Day. What was I thinking? But still, I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Cody is eighteen years old and her best friend, Meg has just committed suicide. And Meg isn’t just her best friend, she is her best friend. Cody spent the majority of her life at her house, she was practically raised by her parents, they did everything with each other, they knew everything about each other. Or so Cody thought. This book is about how much you know about a person, especially a person you spent the majority of your life with. As the book unravels, we travel with Cody to Meg’s college to collect her things and this sends the ball rolling on Meg’s hidden life. We get to know her roommates and especially Ben McAllister, Meg’s past friend/one night stand/love interest/crush.
Yeah …their relationship is complicated.
Ben, he was a tough character. I think I’ve told you my pet peeve which are boys who are cheating players. Ben was this at the beginning and when we find out he was tangled with Meg, I hated him so much. But then he changed and developed into becoming the love interest and I fell in love (okay, I’ll stop before giving away too much). I think Gayle has something for adoring, hot guitarists.
I like Cody’s character, a lot. She may be disadvantaged with her mum or her financial status but that doesn’t stop her from working hard at everything she does. I admire hard working characters. She thought Meg was the shining star, the bad-ass, the braver one when really to Meg, Cody was the brave, kick-ass one. I loved Cody’s perseverance to find out the truth and how she did it. I loved the way she had found out all these clues and put them together. I loved her partnership with Harry, the teck geek and together they could narrow things down and track people down. They decrypted messages, cross checked them and made sense out that. I’m a sucker for that, it was awesome!
Cody starts digging deeper into Meg’s life and what drove her to take her life. Meg leaves her laptop and that becomes the start of it. Okay, I am trying to avoid spoilers but it’s proving to be too hard so I’m warning you that the next paragraph will be spoilers. I warned you!
The Final Solution is one sick group. Reading about Meg’s interaction with them, especially with All_BS really did make me recoil. What the hell is this? Why would you encourage someone to take their own life? This really pissed me off. Meg was a very headstrong girl who was driven to live her life away from the norm. That’s a good thing but she took this way too far. She wanted to find a new way of thinking and living. She definitely found it but in a sick way. When we finally get to the scene of Cody confronting the man behind the username All_BS, I did not expect him to have a child. It was all very surprising, shocking and saddening. He literally had no life other than to ruin other people’s. People who needed help and support rather than encouragement for what they were headed for.
I really liked the ending of this book. This book really is about healing and forgiveness. Cody comes to term with her loss and so does Ben and through that, they found their way to each other. I loved how they made each other better people, people who could forgive themselves and trash their bad habits. Cody starts to learn from her mistakes and Ben quits smoking (I squealed with happiness at this part). There are so many good quotes in this book. Gayle is very insightful in her writing. There are a lot of books out there about suicide and depression but Gayle handles it very carefully so that we see the truth with it and also the philosophy behind it. The best quote in this book would be the one about forgiveness.
And so I forgave everyone in that room: the woman for being so rude, the nurses for being to busy to help, the doctor for keeping us waiting, even CeCe for her histrionics. And then I forgave myself. As soon as I did, my worry over CeCe eased. I felt calm, peaceful and full of love. And in that moment, I was reminded why God wants us to forgive. Not simply because it’s the key to a better world but because of what it does for ourselves. Forgiveness, God’s gift to us. Christ forgave us. He forgave our sins. That was his gift. But by allowing us to forgive each other, he opened us to that divine love. The article was righr. Forgiveness: it’s a miracle drug. It’s God’s miracle drug.
A great, heat-warming quote to end this review.