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Review of I Was Here

forman_i was hereI Was Here
by Gayle Forman
High School    Viking    272 pp.
1/15    978-0-451-47147-5    $18.99    g

Meg Garcia is brilliant and passionate — a standout in her dead-end Washington State hometown and a constant in best friend Cody’s unstable life. But just months after escaping to college on a prestigious scholarship, Meg checks into a motel and drinks a bottle of industrial cleaner. Cody is blindsided and guilt-ridden; when she finds an encrypted document on Meg’s laptop containing explicit suicide instructions, Cody slips down an investigative rabbit-hole that leads her deep into Meg’s hidden personal life. Cody reaches out to Meg’s college friends, and most agree that Meg was troubled. But when scouring Meg’s remaining digital footprint turns up correspondence with a disturbing pro-suicide web forum, Cody pursues this lead with reckless desperation. Capable and tough, Cody is a relentless but self-destructive detective bent on untangling a grim and dangerous mystery that offers no possible redeeming solution. A volatile but tenderly drawn romance with Meg’s tormented musician ex–love interest offers moments of tentative hopefulness for Cody, but her 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.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jessica Tackett MacDonald

Jessica Tackett MacDonald is a collection development librarian at the Boston Public Library, specializing in youth and teen collections. She holds masters degrees in library science and children’s literature from Simmons College.

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