By Stephanie Romero
“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? So don’t ask me about Meg. Because I don’t know…”
After Cody is put on the spot at a memorial service for her best friend, she struggles with being unaware of Meg’s suffering. The 270 page novel by Gayle Forman is a life-examining account of a young person dealing with loss of a best friend and the comfort of life. I Was Here is told from the perspective of Cody, a recent high school graduate from a small town in Washington. Cody is on a quest to sort out the mystery of her best friend Meg’s suicide. Cody wrestles with a myriad of questions and struggles as she comes to grips with being separated from her friend forever.
Forman had this to say about friendship in an interview with Goodreads:
“In my life, I’ve had my heart broken way more often by friends than by romantic love interests. And I always wonder why we don’t talk about friendship heartbreaks in that language. Cause the first few times it happened, I was almost ashamed that I was feeling this much tumult over: ‘Oh, a friendship.’ But now that I’m kind of older and wiser, I understand that these relationships are love affairs—they’re platonic—but they’re love affairs.”
We find out that Meg went off to a university in Tacoma while Cody reluctantly stayed behind and enrolled in a junior college. Time freezes for Cody when she receives a terse suicide note in the mail. The letter incites questions; the answers lead to the feeling of betrayal and disappointment that she didn’t know Meg was suicidal. Cody separates herself from everyone to connect herself with the friends and people Meg left behind. Cody eventually discovers Meg was involved with a online support group which may or may not have something to do with Meg’s committing suicide. She tries to make sense of the disturbing emails and an encrypted file on Meg’s laptop. In the midst of her search, she unintentionally and reluctantly falls in love with someone from Meg’s past.
Besides Cody’s own closure, being Meg’s advocate is the driving force for her actions in the novel. The book is so edgy and mysterious, especially when Cody decides to take a risk to bring herself to some sort of peace with the situation. A gripping scene of confrontation, in particular, reminded me of a quote I heard once that goes, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”
Gayle Forman proves her ability to empathize with the grieving in this mystery, realist novel. I would definitely recommend this book. Some of her notable works include Just One Day and Where She Went. Forman’s best-selling novel, If I Stay, was adapted and released in theaters August of last year.
If you or someone you know is dealing with suicide, know that you’re not alone. Please check out some of these helpful resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
The Hope Line (a faith-based organization with spiritual guidance): http://www.thehopeline.com/
Yellow Ribbon Program: http://yellowribbon.org/