I Was Here

I Was Here

by Gayle Forman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451471475
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/27/2015
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 359,146
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Gayle Forman is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author and journalist. She is the author of Just One Day and Just One Year, and the companion e-novella Just One Night, as well as the New York Times bestsellers If I Stay and Where She Went. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughters.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
The day after Meg died, I received this letter:
I regret to inform you that I have had to take my own life. This decision has been a long time coming, and was mine alone to make. I know it will cause you pain, and for that I am sorry, but please know that I needed to end my own pain. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It’s not your fault.
She emailed copies of the letter to her parents and to me, and to the Tacoma police department, along with another note informing them which motel she was at, which room she was in, what poison she had ingested, and how her body should be safely handled. On the pillow at the motel room was another note—instructing the maid to call the police and not touch her body—along with a fifty-dollar tip.
She sent the emails on a time delay. So that she would be long gone by the time we received them.
Of course, I didn’t know any of that until later. So when I first read Meg’s email on the computer at our town’s public library, I thought it had to be some kind of joke. Or a hoax. So I called Meg, and when she didn’t answer, I called her parents.
“Did you get Meg’s email?” I asked them.
“What email?”

Chapter 2
There are memorial services. And there are vigils. And then there are the prayer circles. It gets hard to keep them straight. At the vigils, you hold candles, but sometimes you do that at the prayer circles. At the memorial services, people talk, though what is there to say?
It was bad enough she had to die. On purpose. But for subjecting me to all of this, I could kill her.
“Cody, are you ready?” Tricia calls.
It is late on a Thursday afternoon, and we are going to the fifth service in the past month. This one is a candlelight vigil. I think.
I emerge from my bedroom. My mother is zipping up the black cocktail dress she picked up from the Goodwill after Meg died. She’s been using it as her funeral dress, but I’m sure that once this blows over, it’ll go into rotation as a going-out dress. She looks hot in it. Like so many people in town, mourning becomes her.
“Why aren’t you dressed?” she asks.
“All my nice clothes are dirty.”
“What nice clothes?”
“Fine, all my vaguely funereal clothes are dirty.”
“Dirty never stopped you before.”
We glare at each other. When I was eight, Tricia announced I was old enough to do my own laundry. I hate doing laundry. You can see where this leads.
“I don’t get why we have to go to another one,” I say.
“Because the town needs to process.”
“Cheese needs to process. The town needs to find another drama to distract itself with.”
There are fifteen hundred and seventy-four people in our town according to the fading sign on the highway. “Fifteen hundred and seventy-three,” Meg said when she escaped to college in Tacoma on a full scholarship last fall. “Fifteen hundred and seventy-two when you come to Seattle and we get our apartment together,” she’d added.
It remains stuck at fifteen hundred and seventy-three now, and I suspect it’ll stay there until someone else is born or dies. Most people don’t leave. Even when Tammy Henthoff and Matt Parner left their respective spouses to run off together—the gossip that was the hottest news before Meg—they moved to an RV park on the edge of town.
“Do I have to go?” I’m not sure why I bother to ask her this. Tricia is my mother but she’s not an authority in that way. I know why I have to go. For Joe and Sue.
They’re Meg’s parents. Or they were. I keep stumbling over the verb tenses. Do you cease being someone’s parent because they died? Because they died on purpose?
Joe and Sue look blasted into heartbreak, the hollows under their eyes so deep I don’t see how they’ll ever go away. And it’s for them I find my least-stinky dress and put it on. I get ready to sing. Again.
Amazing Grace. How Vile the Sound.

Chapter 3
I’ve written a dozen mental eulogies for Meg, imagining all the things I might say about her. Like how when we met in the first week of kindergarten she made me a picture of us, with both our names, and some words I didn’t understand because unlike Meg, I could not yet read or write. “It says ‘best friends,’” she’d explained. And like all things Meg wanted or predicted, it turned out to be true. I might talk about how I still have that picture. I keep it in a metal toolbox that houses all my most important things, and it is creased from age and multiple viewings.
Or I might talk about how Meg knew things about people that they might not know themselves. She knew the precise number of times in a row everyone generally sneezed; there’s a pattern to it, apparently. I was three; Scottie and Sue four, Joe was two, Meg was five. Meg could also remember what you wore for every picture day, every Halloween. She was like the archive of my history. And also the creator of it, too, because almost every one of those Halloweens was spent with her, usually in some costume she dreamed up.
Or I might talk about Meg and her obsession with firefly songs. It started in ninth grade when she’d picked up a vinyl single by a band called Heavens to Betsy. She’d dragged me back to her room and played me the scratchy record on that old turntable she’d bought at a church jumble sale for a dollar and rewired herself, with a little help from YouTube instructional videos. And you will never know how it feels to light up the sky. You will never know how it feels to be a firefly, Corin Tucker sang in a voice so simultaneously strong and vulnerable that it seemed almost inhuman.
After the Heavens to Betsy discovery, Meg went on a mission to find every good firefly song ever written. In true Meg fashion, within a few weeks she’d amassed an exhaustive list. “Have you ever even seen a firefly?” I’d asked her as she worked on her playlist.
I knew she hadn’t. Like me, Meg had never been east of the Rockies. “I have time,” she’d said, opening her arms, as if to demonstrate just how much life there was out there, waiting for her.
Joe and Sue asked me to speak at that first service, the big one that should’ve been held in the Catholic church the Garcias had attended for years, but wasn’t because Father Grady, though a friend of the family, was a rules man. He told the Garcias that Meg had committed a cardinal sin and therefore her soul wouldn’t be admitted to heaven, nor her body to the Catholic cemetery.
The last bit was theoretical. It took several weeks after Meg’s death for investigators to release her body. Apparently the poison she’d used was rare, though anyone who knew Meg wouldn’t be surprised by this. She never wore clothes from chain stores, always listened to bands no one else had heard of. Naturally, she found some obscure poison to swallow.
So the casket everyone had sobbed over at that first big service had been empty and there’d been no burial. I’d overheard Meg’s uncle Xavier tell his girlfriend that maybe it would be better if there never was one. No one knew what to write on the gravestone. “Everything sounds like a reproach,” he’d said.
I tried to write a eulogy for that service. I did. I pulled out the disc Meg had burned of firefly songs for inspiration. The third one up was the Bishop Allen track “Fireflies.” I don’t know if I ever really listened to the words before, because when I did now, they were like a smack from her grave: It says you can still forgive her. And she will forgive you back.
But I don’t know that I can. And I don’t know that she did.
I told Joe and Sue that I was sorry, that I couldn’t give a eulogy, that I just couldn’t think of anything to say.
It was the first time I ever lied to them.
Today’s service is being held in the Rotary Club, so it’s not one of the official religious services, though the speaker appears to be some kind of reverend. I’m not sure where they keep coming from, all these speakers who didn’t really know Meg. After it’s over, Sue invites me over for yet another reception at the house.
I used to spend so much time at Meg’s house that I could tell what kind of mood Sue was in by what I smelled when I walked through the door. Butter meant baking, which meant she was melancholy and needed cheering. Spicy meant she was happy and making hot Mexican food for Joe, even though it hurt her stomach. Popcorn meant that she was in bed, in the dark, not cooking anything, and Meg and Scottie were left to their own devices, which meant a buffet of microwave snack foods. On those days, Joe would joke how lucky we kids were to get to pig out like this as he made his way upstairs to check on Sue. We all played along, but usually, after the second or third microwave corndog, you kind of wanted to throw up.
I know the Garcias so well that when I called that morning after getting Meg’s email, I knew even though it was eleven o’clock on a Saturday that Sue would be still in bed but not sleeping; she said she never did learn to sleep in once her kids stopped waking up early. And Joe would have the coffee brewed and the morning paper spread out over the kitchen table. Scottie would be watching cartoons. Consistency was one of the many things I loved about Meg’s house. So different from mine where the earliest Tricia usually woke was noon, and some days you might find her pouring bowls of cereal, and some days you might find the house empty, Tricia’s bed untouched since the night before.
But now there’s a different kind of constancy about the Garcia household, one that is far less inviting. Still, when Sue asks me over, much as I’d prefer to refuse the invitation, I don’t.
The crowd of cars outside the house is thinner than it was in the early days when the whole town came on sympathy calls carrying Pyrex dishes. It was a little hard to take, all those casseroles and the “I’m so sorry for your losses” that accompanied them. Because elsewhere in town, the gossip was flying. Didn’t surprise me. Girl always hung her freak flag high, I heard people whispering in the Circle K. Meg and I both knew that some people said things like that about her—in our town she was like a rose blooming in the desert; it confused folks—but with her dead, this sentiment no longer felt like a badge of honor.
And it wasn’t just Meg they went after. At the bar where Tricia worked, I overheard a couple of townies sniping about Sue. “As a mother, I would know if my daughter was suicidal.” This coming from the mother of Carrie Tarkington, who had slept with half the school. I was about to ask Mrs. Tarkington if, being all-knowing, she knew that. But then her friend replied. “Sue? Are you joking. That woman is floating in space on a good day,” and I felt sucker punched by their cruelty. “How would you feel if you’d just lost your child, you bitches?” I’d sneered. Tricia had had to escort me home.
After today’s service, Tricia has to go to work so she drops me off at the Garcias’. I let myself in. Joe and Sue hug me tight and for a moment longer than is comfortable. I know that they must take some solace in me being here but I can hear Sue’s silent questions when she looks at me, and I know that all the questions boil down to one: Did you know?
I don’t know what would be worse. If I did know and didn’t tell them, or the truth, which is that even though Meg was my best friend and I have told her everything there is to tell about me and I assumed she’d done the same, I had no idea. Not a clue.
This decision has been a long time coming, she wrote in her note. A long time coming? How long is that? Weeks? Months? Years? I have known Meg since kindergarten. We have been best friends, sisters almost, ever since. How long has this decision been coming without her telling me? And more to the point, why didn’t she tell me?

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for I Was Here:

“A heartbreaking novel about loss from the bestselling author of If I Stay.” --People magazine

"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 New York Times bestselling The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"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

"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


Customer Reviews

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I Was Here 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have not been able to put it down. Got really caught up from the beginning, it kinda ties in to what I have dealt with for a good while. The whole depression and everything. Made me feel good that there are others going through it to even though its a book. Really good read no-the-less. 
-justin- More than 1 year ago
This book was beautifully written and left you want more, the pages couldn't stop turning for me 
mikeburton04 More than 1 year ago
I've read several of Gayle Forman's books and find them to be relevant for today's youth. Like her other works, this deals with issues that are important to young people. While it doesn't match If I Stay, it was very worthwhile. It may help those with teens to find some common ground for discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great teen book!
bouncyberthaCR More than 1 year ago
2 - "If that's what happens to normal, what hope is there for the rest of us?" Stars. I think I should firstly say that I am a huge fan of Gayle Forman’s books. She somehow manages to take a bunch of fairly unremarkable, usual characters and give them what starts out as an ordinary story, but with one unique twist, turns them into extraordinary books. I am guaranteed to need tissues and want a hug after finishing a book by her, but I always feel I am a better person for having read the story she has given me. You get all of the above with I Was Here with the exception of needing tissues and wanting a hug. This book left me cold; I know that is a pretty blunt summation, but that’s how I felt. I am not sure what went wrong but for me there was no emotion from me or the characters, I felt no empathy or sympathy for what any of them were experiencing, and I could find no real solid reasoning for half of the things Cody did, thought or said. I would go as far as to say disliked her, her mother, their attitudes and just them in general intensely.  Ben didn’t evoke much from me either, in fact no one in the book did really, apart from Meg’s little brother Scottie. Meg’s suicide and the reasoning behind it, her family’s behavior in the aftermath, and the actions Cody took to try and get to the bottom of the mystery… nothing. I felt absolutely nothing, I kept reading as I was sure that at some point something would happen to give me that lump in my throat, bring on that lip wobble or just a slight tear to the eye. I have absolutely no doubt that I am probably in the minority with my feelings about this book, Gayle is, and will always be an author I am happy to read a book by. I guess that sometimes, some subjects and the story and characters an author chooses to build around them just don’t work for even their ardent fans. That is definitely the camp I am in on this occasion. ”I have time.” ARC generously provided via Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though the romance was sort of unecessary to the novel, i was very entertained anyway. I think the reason I kept turning the page was for the romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an excellent book, makes you think about life and how sometimes people's choices affect you, also that we don't always know what is going on with the ones we love (in this case her friend, almost sister) and sometimes we can't do anything to help their, I really love it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a great book about depression and suicide. My daughter tried to commit suicide and I found this book to be helpful to me for whatever reason.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read this book and wow! I could not put it down and it is absolutely a book thar I will read over and over.
MyndiL More than 1 year ago
This book was intense. I had to keep walking away from it when it got too heavy. If you have suffered from depression or know someone who has, or anyone who has taken their own life or thought about it, this might get to you. That's my PSA. While everyone struggles with the loss of someone close to them, what is often not portrayed quite as clearly as this book portrays, is the guilt many of us feel when someone takes their own life. Did we do enough, is it our fault, could we have prevented this act, how did we not see what was going on in their mind? All of these things are addressed as Cody goes through her mourning process. The discoveries made by Cody when she digs into Meg's life and computer are what really shook me to my core, and finding out in the author's notes that it was based on a true story really got to me. (Please read the author's notes, I don't always but you won't want to skip this one.) I can't believe there are people as evil as this out there. People who are so misguided that they think they are doing a good thing. It was horrifying to read and I think it will take me awhile to fully process that part. The underlying romance is unusual and sweet and I think it shows us all the capability of forgiveness, and moving on. The ability to open our hearts again after a great tragedy and let someone in. And I love that the romance is underlying and not the main focal point of the novel. If you have read Forman's work before, I'm sure you will enjoy this book. If you like works of John Green and the like, you will probably enjoy it as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Was Here" Book Review I Was Here by Gayle Forman is a realist fiction book about a college student who's BFF commits suicide. The protagonist is an 18 year old college student named Cody. Cody has many questions running through her head on why her best friend Meg would killed herself and not tell her she was depressed. One of the themes in I Was Here is that grieving is hard but there is always a way to get better. The protagonist Cody and Meg had not seen each other in months since they had to attend different colleges and as Megs best friend Cody automatically feels that she did something wrong to cause her the commit suicide. “I failed her in life. But I won’t fail her in death.” Cody feels that it is her job to find out way Meg killed herself and who made her do it. Throughout this book Cody meets many of Megs college friends that over time become her friends over time. These friends help Cody in her search to find out way Meg is dead. When comparing to another realistic fiction, Where She Went, many people have to go through the grieving processes. Both Cody and Mia are college girls who lost the people close to them and go through the grieving process in about the same way. Overall this was an amazing story. This story is from Cody's perspective. Gayle Forman does a get job getting the reader to really picture and feel what was going on in the book. This somewhat sad but romantic book receives a 10 out of 10 stars. This would be a great read for a teen to a young adult.
Bdanelle More than 1 year ago
Read the book in 2 sittings. Speaks for itself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
0 stars I don't recommend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the charecters hard to like and unrealistic. I've read other books by thus author and loved them, but this one did not pull at my heart strings as his other works have done. In fact I found myself in a faul mood every time I finished a chapter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi, my name is Zuleika and I will be doing a book review of a non fiction book called I Was Here by Gayle Forman, this book was published not so long ago, in 2014. This book is about Meg killing herself and no one really knows why. Meg best friend Cody goes a head with this mystery journey trying to find out more about her suicide. Cody thinks that someone killed her best friend Meg because Cody knows the way her Meg is about taking a blame for other people. After thinking and going through Meg computer and emails Cody finds something strange and starts hunting for clues and every time she finds a clue things start to add up. In this journey of Cody she meets people and find out things that she thought her best friend would tell her. I really love this book, this book was an amazing book that had me with my mouth open and the way things went in the book had me smiling. I wish that there was another book on it because I absolutely loved it. Cody does something that had me in shocked and surprised me. I caught myself blushing and smiling and all. I can't tell you the rest because I cant spoil the ending I wish I could but trust me you will like it and you know how I know you will like it? Because I don’t read at all I hate reading and this book has me that I want to read more and more. So imagine someone that hates reading ending up liking this book and is seeking for more about this book, this book will have you in shocked and wanting more. This book is a romance and tragedy at the same time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
maggie-martin94 More than 1 year ago
It wasn't until I read the author's note at the end about basing her story off of a real person named Suzy Gonzalez when I felt the impact of this story. I wished that it stayed completely revolved around the relationship between Cody and Meg-- the added romance from Ben was like ripping Adam from If I Stay and putting him in a new town with a new love interest. It felt forced, akward, and unecessary. BUT (and this is a big but) I found the idea of tracking down the man behind the screen at the suicide "support group" to be completely fascinating. And, to read at the end that support groups like this truly do exist and helped a real person decide to take their own life makes this story so much more important. The romance made it feel trite and the story could have shined without it. I WAS HERE would have been NO DOUBT a five star book for me without it. Cody was strong enough to be on her own, but I felt like the publisher said "Gayle Forman does tragic romance, let's throw in another hot guitar player."
Kaylexanna More than 1 year ago
I had high expectations for this book after If I Stay and Where She Went, and I wasn’t disappointed. I Was Here definitely won’t be for everyone, but parts of it resonated with me in a way I didn’t expect. There’s a lot going on in this book, both up front and beneath the surface – about secrets, family, friendship, and forgiveness, and Forman handles it beautifully. The romance was a huge disappointment for me, but I also felt like the focus of the main story wasn’t on that, so I was mostly able to ignore it (thankfully). Cody’s mission to learn the truth behind Meg’s suicide really pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. Her anger and heartbreak fueled her through her journey, and the lengths she went to made me almost want to look away because the direction she went in made me so uncomfortable. Overall, I thought this was a really strong book, if really tough to read at times, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Forman’s works in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best-of-YA More than 1 year ago
Meg and Cody have been inseparable since kindergarten, so when Cody gets Meg’s suicide email she has no idea what to think. They were supposed to know everything about each other, so why did Cody have absolutely no idea Meg was in this much pain? When she is asked to pack up Meg’s things at her college apartment, she stumbles upon an encrypted file Meg failed to delete off her laptop. Once Cody is able to open the file, she becomes obsessed with figuring out what all the documents inside mean and what role, if any, they had in Meg’s suicide. This deals with some pretty heavy topics—depression and suicide—but ultimately this is a story about forgiveness. Cody is angry and lost after Meg’s suicide. She feels responsible and guilty because she wasn’t there for Meg during her lowest, but she also feels betrayed and doesn’t know how to forgive Meg for leaving her. She becomes obsessed with finding someone to blame because she does not believe that her beautiful, amazing, full-of-life best friend could have consciously chosen to end her own life. She discovers a lot about Meg she didn’t previously know and understands that in order to move on from this she must not only forgive Meg, but she has to forgive herself as well. Cody and Ben fell flat for me as characters and so did their romance. There are brief moments where they connect and bond and whatever, but they spend more time apart and not talking/fighting then falling in love (at least in my opinion). I just didn’t feel the chemistry that is so common in all of Forman’s other books with these two. But falling in love really isn’t the focal point of this story so I guess that’s why the romance didn’t have to be as well developed. I will read anything Gayle Forman writes because I absolutely loved If I Stay/Where She Went and Just One Day/Just One Year. All of her books are different but what stays constant is how emotionally gripping they are. I think I might have started this with my expectations set a bit too high because, although I liked the book I didn’t think it was amazing. I didn’t connect as much with these characters and this story as I have with all her other books. 
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings  Cody is left behind.  Her friend committed suicide and for Cody it felt out of the blue.  Her friend Meg was away at college and both Cody and her parents didn't see the signs and wish they had the chance to help Meg work through whatever issues she was dealing with.   As most Gayle Forman's books go, this one is dealing with a sensitive subject - suicide.  I thought it was an interesting take on suicide as the friend, Cody, tries to figure out the why and how she could have maybe prevented it.   I enjoyed reading Cody's journey, but kept forgetting that Meg didn't die from cancer or an accident and that it was suicide and it made me nervous that the seriousness of suicide may not have come across throughout the whole book.  I hope that young readers don't read this book and lose a sense of seriousness about suicide. As part of the Gayle Forman shelf, I liked it.  It read smoothly and quickly, but definitely a tough subject to tackle.
PiecesofWhimsy More than 1 year ago
3.5/5 Stars. As is the case with most of the books I read, I'd kinda forgotten what it was about when I started reading - I have too many books running through my head to keep track of them all! And I kinda like the fact that I didn't remember what was going to happen, it helps enhance the surprise and mystery elements. I Was Here was a story about a girl trying to find out the truth behind the suicide of her best friend, and trying to cope with not knowing or seeing it coming. I've only read one other of Gayle Forman's books, If I Stay, but I noticed similarities between themes - coming to terms with loss and dealing with emotionally intense situations. These themes make for interesting and compelling reads and take you on an emotional ride. It took me a little while to get into this book. The writing style made me feel detached from the main character and I found it hard to feel for her. The story idea was really interesting and I enjoyed reading the book but I wish I'd connected with the characters more. The story threw a coupe of interesting curve-balls, I don't want to give anything away but I was quite shocked. Cody was ruthless in her search for the truth and some of what she did I thought was really stupid and reckless, her judgement was a bit off but I suppose you can forgive her because of her grief-strickenness. Overall I enjoyed the book but I wasn't blown away. If you're a fan of Gayle Forman I think you will enjoy I Was Here. *I received a copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review*