Don’t just read I Was Here…Experience it!
I read I Was Here, by Gayle Forman, for a reason you may be able to guess if you’ve been reading my blog lately. It was another book I picked up in search of comp titles. I quickly realized it was definitely not a comp for the book I’m seeking comps for, but I still didn’t want to put it down.
Which brings us to why. Here we go, no spoilers. Cody wanted to stop spending every minute thinking about her best friend Meg’s suicide. But when Meg’s parents ask her to pack up Meg’s things at school for them, it becomes impossible to move forward. With each trip Cody makes, she notices more things that don’t add up about the girl she thought she knew. The more she finds out about Meg’s last months, the more she feels like she’s losing herself. Especially when she starts to think Meg’s death may not be as black and white as it seemed.
Best friends are amazing. It’s nice to have someone that is your go to person. The one you can share the good, the bad, and the ugly with. The one that is a part of your inside jokes, knows all of your favorites, and just gets you. They can also be tricky. Especially if you grow apart, or in Cody’s case lose touch completely, lose them forever.
In I Was Here, Cody is often reminded of how Meg would refer to herself as Willow and Cody as Buffy referencing iconic characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show that was at the top of my high school watch list. Meg thought of herself as creative and magical. She thought of Cody as a tough badass. Cody would have never referred to herself as a Buffy. It just goes to show how we often see people differently than they see themselves. We can never really understand what it’s like in someone else’s shoes. We can try, sometimes we might even skim the surface, but to truly know and feel without their experiences is nearly impossible.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where most people have been effected by suicide at one time or another. I can personally think of several that have impacted my life, but there are two in particular. One was in high school. It wasn’t a person I knew, but it was a sibling of a close friend. My inability to handle her understandable sadness led to the end of our friendship. She shut me out, and I let her. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something that happened. I’ve never been great at talking about feelings.
The second was when I was in college, and it was one of my very favorite people. That time I was directly affected. Although, it’s also not something I ever really talk about, it’s something I think about often. The questions are endless. If I had known, would it have changed anything? Would he still be here? What would he think of me today? Would he have seen what I see in my husband? Would he have made my kids laugh the way he always did me? The biggest one—the one I think plagues most people—Why?
Cody had questions too. One of the reasons I liked her so much was because she didn’t just bury her thoughts on everything deep inside. She asked the questions and attempted to find answers, no matter how painful the journey became. In this way, whether she sees it or not, she was totally a Buffy. Sure, she wasn’t kicking the crap out of the undead, but she was definitely an emotional badass, letting herself feel everything no matter how difficult it was to do so.
I Was Here, is a reminder about the importance of not assuming, of checking in with those we love, of observing. It’s about the significance of talking about even uncomfortable topics. It’s about how grief is powerful and necessary. It’s about the difficulty of being the one left behind. It’s about healing. For these reasons, it was a beautiful story.
There you have it. As you read I Was Here, take the time to remember those you have lost. Ask questions, talk with those you love, remember the good and the bad…even if it’s hard.
If you haven’t already read I Was Here, what are you waiting for? If you already have, why not pick it up again? Either way, take my advice when you do—don’t just read it, experience it!
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