Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, December 7, 2015

Plot Summary:
When Cody got the email Meg committed suicide, her world imploded. Meg and Cody have been best friends since they were kids and now Meg is gone. Why didn't Meg tell Cody that she was so unhappy? Meg's sudden demise was not only devastating for Cody and her family, it just didn't make any sense. In fact, Meg and Cody had big plans so there is no way that Meg would every take her own life the way she did.

Unwilling to accept that Meg intentionally meant to commit suicide, Cody dives into the chaotic world that her best friend lived in. More importantly, when Cody confronts the man who broke Meg's heart, her mission to unravel the mystery behind Meg's downward spiral reveals unsettling details involving a support group and a dangerous mission to confront those murdered Meg. The ending will shock readers to the core, but, more importantly, this story conveys the battle that Cody is facing, internally, and how this whole outcome occurred by forces that no one could prevent without knowing, first hand, what was going. This book will have readers firmly planted in their chairs until the very end. 

Critical Evaluation:
This books is mind blowing. I don't think I have ever read a book so fast in my life and it was not only heartbreaking, but it paints an accurate portrayal of what depression can do when we don't seek they help we need. No one really knows why mental illness occurs, but it is something that should never be taken lightly. What Forman does here is that she sheds light on how depression doesn't just affect individuals, but what it does to those around us. Cody never knew that Meg suffered from depression and, as readers will learn, was because Meg's family decided NOT to tell her. I will say that this angered me because depression is something no one should ever feel ashamed of. Depression is a real illness that affects millions of people all over the world and, although it can't be cured, it can easily be managed with a combination of cognitive therapy and medication. I, myself, suffer from depression, and I am so glad that Forman wrote this story to tell teens that if they are struggling with bouts of sadness and hopelessness, suicide is NEVER a solution; if someone says otherwise, they are not a friend and they are certainly not someone, or something, who cares about them. I will say that they way Cody managed to track down the person who communicated with Meg was definitely reckless, but it revealed the danger of online communities where seriously sick people can pray on the weak. What I hope readers take away from this book is to not only be careful with online communities, but don't be afraid to ask for help when they are at the end of their rope. Depression is not a sign of weakness, but an illness that needs to be treated. This story is a cautionary tale for teens today, which is a conversations that must be discussed. 

Information about the Author:
According to the author's website:

I’m a woman. There seems to be some confusion about my gender, which I find disturbing if you’ve seen my author photo.

I used to be a journalist. My first job was for Seventeen magazine. You can see some of my articles here.

When I was little I wanted to grow up to be the sun. I was devastated to learn this was not a career option.

Adam from If I Stay was inspired by my husband, Nick. No, you cannot meet him.

Willem from Just One Day/Year was inspired by some Dutch guy who dumped me. (Willem is my revenge.) No, you don’t want to meet him.

I bombed my SATs. I still did okay in life.

I was once an extra in a Bollywood movie. (And yes, that’s where I got that part of Just One Year from.)

I have been to 64 countries. I used to travel a lot. I once wrote a book about it. Favorite country visited: India. Least-favorite country: Tonga. (Sorry, Tonga.)

I can bake a batch of cupcakes from scratch in under 20 minutes.

The worst job I ever had was as a data-entry clerk. Honorable mention to hotel maid and traveling flower seller girl.

I have learned, and forgotten, three foreign languages. Regretfully, French is not one of them.

I took three years off to travel before college.

As a teen, I was so obsessed with Molly Ringwald that I started biting my lip like she did and now I have a permanent scar. And this is why I am a YA author.

Genre:
Teen Contemporary Fiction, Teen Mysteries, Teen Suspense

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to I Was Here:
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

"I Was Here is a pitch-perfect blend of mystery, tragedy, and romance. Gayle Forman has given us an unflinchingly honest portrait of the bravery it takes to live after devastating loss." —Stephen Chbosky, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“Irresistible tear-jerker” —New York Times

“A heartbreaking novel about coping with loss from the bestselling author of If I Stay” —People
"As she did in If I Stay, Forman offers an introspective examination of the line between life and death, and the courage it takes to persist."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Forman sifts through Cody’s shifting psychological landscape with a sure and delicate hand, developing a character that readers will recognize themselves in. . . a relevant book as well as an absorbing one.” —BCCB, starred review

"Part tautly paced mystery, part psychological study of suicide and its aftereffects. . . An engrossing and provocative look at the devastating finality of suicide, survivor's guilt, the complicated nature of responsibility and even the role of the Internet in life-and-death decisions." —Kirkus Reviews

"Suicide has always been a subject in YA literature, and to her credit, Forman handles it sensitively and gracefully, raising important issues of the ethics and morality of the subject. The combination mystery and love story is sure to reach a wide readership and excite essential discussion. . . This latest offering should generate massive teen interest." —Booklist

"Cody's struggle with grief and complicity is intense and affecting up until an emotional gut-punch of a conclusion. Once this compelling case is closed, what remains is a haunting, elegiac tale about enduring and understanding loss. " —The Horn Book

"Teens will clamor for this latest offering from the author of If I Stay." —School Library Journal

"Hugely popular Forman, author of the acclaimed If I Stay among others, has another best seller here. This novel’s strength lies in its depiction of main character Cody, a young woman torn by conflicts but sustained by her own sense of purpose." —VOYA

“Takes tragedy, guilt, friendship, inspiration, heartache, and bravery and mixes them all up in a blender of feelings” —Bustle

Praise for If I Stay and Where She Went:

“Beautifully written.” —Entertainment Weekly

“An achingly gorgeous portrayal of rejection and rekindled love.” —USA Today

“A page-turner, tearjerker and romance all in one.” —BookPage

“Pitch-perfect...a moving, skillfully crafted novel.” —VOYA, starred review

Praise for Just One Day and Just One Year:

“Offering mystery, drama, and an evocative portrait of unrequited love, this open-ended novel will leave fans eagerly anticipating the companion story.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Readers were enthralled with Forman’s If I Stay books, and now she’s captivated them again as they fall in love with her characters in Just One Day.” —NPR’s The Roundtable

“As satisfying as both of these books are, readers are going to wish for a third.” —Booklist

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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