Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: I Was Here (Audio)

Summary: Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss. -- Listening Library

I have heard some really great things about Gayle Forman's novels. It's taken me awhile, but I finally decided to listen to her latest I WAS HERE. I had no idea that I'd feature this book as part of Mystery Mondays (I thought it would work for Kid Konnection); however, there is definitely a mystery aspect to this story. While it might not be what I remember most about this story, it still is a major part of the plot... and why I decided to include it as part of Mystery Mondays.

I WAS HERE is a touching story about Cody, a young woman whose best friend commits suicide. Cody and Meg had been best friends since kindergarten, so when Meg decided to swallow a bottle of industrial strength cleaner, Cody's life is turned upside-down. She thought she knew everything about her friend!

Cody wasn't only dealing with the physical loss of Meg, but she also was trying to come to terms with the "why" of her friend's suicide. Cody acknowledged that some things had changed when Meg left town after high school graduation to attend college. However, she still considered Meg to be her best friend. When Cody travels to Meg's college town to pack up her things, she quickly realizes that Meg had a lot going on that Cody never knew about... including Ben McAllister, a guitar player that Meg fell hard for!

Cody also finds some encrypted computer files on Meg's computer, and she gets some help in breaking the code. What she discovers on Meg's computer puts an entirely new spin on Meg's death, and Cody is determined to get to the bottom of it. As Cody tries to make sense of Meg's secret life, she ends up questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend and their friendship.

I found I WAS HERE to be a terrific listen! Granted, it was a difficult read at times because of the subject matter; however, it was a beautifully written and honest portrayal of what happens after a loved one takes their own life. This book did an excellent job of showing the effects of suicide on those that remain including the grief and even guilt that comes with the loss.

One thing I truly loved about I WAS HERE was the character of Cody. She was so darn honest and sad that it broke my heart. Naturally, I felt bad for Meg because she was truly suffering, but it was the portrayal of Cody that really touched me and made me think. Cody not only was dealing with the loss of her best friend. She was also coming to terms with the guilt associated with Meg's death -- how could she not know her friend was hurting this much?

As a result of Cody's guilt, she decided to try to make sense of Meg's suicide. With the help of a friend or two, she discovered some pretty scary things about Meg and the weeks leading up to her death. I don't want to give too much away about this "mystery aspect" of the novel, but Cody definitely took it upon herself to uncover the truth behind the encrypted files on Meg's computer.

Despite being a bit of a downer, I WAS HERE was a redemptive story. In many ways, Cody grew up and learned a great deal about not only Meg but also herself. She was able to grieve and forgive herself while also forging ahead with a new relationship. In addition, she began the healing process that is necessary for her to move forward in life!

I listened to the audio version of I WAS HERE and I thought it was very well done. The story was read by Jorjeana Marie. She did a fantastic job of sounding like a troubled young woman. Her voice accurately depicted the variety of emotions that Cody faced, and she also was convincing in all of the different characters she played.

Overall, I WAS HERE is a touching book about loss and friendship. It also happened to be a pretty darn good mystery story too!  

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this audio book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

That does sound gut wrenching. Sadly, I think there are quite a few teens who can relate to Cody.

Kay said...

This book sounds very intriguing and I remember hearing some things about it some time ago. I think I'll try it on audio as well. If it works well, I'll recommend to my college age nieces. I love it when they ask me what I've been reading. LOL