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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.

 

Book 72/100: I Was Here by Gayle Foreman

I Was Here - Gayle Forman

3.5

Throughout this whole book, I wavered between giving it 3 and 4 stars.

It ultimately missed the four-star mark because I thought the romance was kind of gross and creepy, and it felt somewhat extraneous and obligatory in a book that draws its strength from its examination of friendship.

It's also a pity that the romance knocked this book down a notch, because it really had a lot going for it. The characterization of Cody and her (late) best friend Meg was well done, and even secondary characters received a little bit of depth -- the parents more so than Meg's room-mates, who seem to be in the same mood every time Cody encounters them. And although there are hints at a deeper side of Ben, Meg's sometime ex-boyfriend, we really only skim the surface of that depth here.

With all that said, this book absolutely held my attention until the end. Although it felt like it veered into "problem novel/cautionary tale" territory at times, I found the exploration of the "pro-suicide" community to be both harrowing and fascinating. I was especially drawn to the "mystery" aspect of it as Cody tried to put together the pieces in terms of why her best friend took her own life, something that she never saw coming and felt totally blind-sided by. I wish that a little more time and attention would have been given to the resolution of the "mystery" subplot. And I thought the side trip about Cody's father unnecessarily bogged the "road trip" portion of the story down. I also felt like Forman skirted the issue of why Cody did not go through with her plan to go to college with Meg for too long -- she never came out and said definitively what the deal was until the end of the book, which sets it up like it's going to be this big reveal when it's really not.

But the guilt, anger, and confusion Cody feels in the wake of Meg's suicide permeates the entire novel and continues to haunt me weeks after I finished the book. It's an appropriately sensitive portrayal of a tenuous friendship, grief, and mental illness -- all marred by a somewhat squicky romance.