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Ever since the successful movie rendition of If I Stay, anything written by Gayle Forman has been branded as a must-read. I had decided to write a review of the YA novel I Was Here long before I realized that September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I found the message in this book to be truly moving, and — as in her previous work — Gayle Forman takes a tender topic and tears the Band-Aid off. So, in honor of this month, and to those who are struggling or who know someone who is, I give you this review.

Gayle Forman’s most recent novel revolves around Cody and her feelings following the suicide of her best friend, Meg. Unlike other novels involving suicide, the only way we learn about Meg and her character is through Cody’s biased narrative. To Cody, Meg was this perfect best friend who had all the answers and was never afraid to be herself. It turns out that, like everyone, Meg was more complicated than that.

This novel does an excellent job of expressing all of the ugly emotions that come with loss:

“How can you believe someone to be beautiful and amazing and just about the most magical person you’ve ever known, when it turns out she was in such pain that she had to drink poison that robbed her cells of oxygen until her heart had no choice but to stop beating?”

I Was Here does a good job of incorporating today’s problems into the storyline. There’s talk of online chats and confronting the demons of both your friends and yourself. Technology plays an important part in the story, and, more importantly, it’s shown how technology can be used to influence people, for good and for bad.

While the pace was a little slow at times, there was always a hook in the plot to keep me reading. Cody proves to be a sassy and loyal narrator. In the end I truly wanted to see if and when Cody would find peace with Meg’s death and how the novel would handle the stigma that usually comes with suicide. This story focuses more on the people and the questions that the deceased left behind.

All in all, I Was Here is a great book that admirably handles the topics of death, suicide, and how today’s world of technology plays its own part in them.

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