I really liked the characterisation in this book. Like other Gayle Forman books I’ve read, the characters are really easy to picture, without being over-described. Even though Meg was dead, I got a real sense of who she’d been when she was alive. I liked and empathised with Cody and felt sorry for her not only for losing her friend, but also feeling like she should have spotted the warning signs of Meg’s suicide. I also liked that she had problems outside of Meg’s suicide, too. Her mother is pretty neglectful and she lives in a one-horse town, so she has these issues to contend with as well.
Even though this is a book that centres on suicide, I’m not sure about the portrayal of mental health in this book - not because I think it was badly done, but more because I think it was a bit sketchy. I get that that was the author’s intention - Meg’s depression is hidden from Cody so naturally she has very few details about symptoms and so on, but all I got from Meg’s depression was that she was tired a lot. I guess I think that the author had a really good opportunity to explore mental health and its implications, but all we saw was the aftermath.
The plot of the book was fairly odd. Not bad-odd, but just a bit ... odd. It started off as a grief/friendship book, then veered into a mystery/thriller; there were parts that delved into Cody’s mental health and then there was a big old romantic streak thrown in the mix as well. Each part kind of worked, but it did feel like I was being jolted around a lot. I did find the description of the suicide support group particularly chilling. I may be naive, but I had no idea these things existed. They sound creepy and horrible.
I did like the romance in this story, and although it did feel shoehorned in slightly it was very slow-burning, which fitted the plot of the book. Cody and Ben seemed very natural together and I liked that they started off as mistrustful strangers before progressing to friendship and then something a bit more romantic.
I thought I Was Here was a pretty okay book. I didn’t enjoy it as much as If I Stay, but I think that was partly because it delved into so many themes. It’s worth a read if you happen to see it at the library, though.