Title: I Was HereI first read I Was Here as an early review copy back in 2014. Of Gayle Forman's handful of books, I had only read If I Stay previously, but I recalled liking it and I know many readers who speak highly of her writing, so I was looking forward to I Was Here. I ended up enjoying - or perhaps relating - to it so much that, when offered an audiobook version of the book, I felt compelled to return to the story and characters.
Author: Gayle Forman
Pub. Date: January 27, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 12+
Length: 7 hours 42 minutes
More by this author: If I Stay, Where She Went, Just One Day, Just One Year
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, who broke Meg’s heart. 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.
The novel follows Cody, a college freshman who's best friend, a vibrant, whirlwind of a girl named Meg, has committed suicide. Though Cody and Meg have grown apart in the year since Meg moved away for college, leaving Cody in their dreaded dead-end town to attend community college, the suicide blindsides Cody who cannot reconcile her idea of Meg with a girl who would take her own life. Troubling emails and an encrypted file on Meg's laptop push Cody into looking deeper into Meg's life at college and the people, online and off, that may have affected her life and the choice to end it.
The audiobook of I Was Here was narrated by Jorjeana Marie, who I thought did a phenomenal job. I liked Jorjeana Marie's voice right from the start, but it was her treatment of male characters that really won me over. Her narration has an effortlessness that I really appreciated, especially when it came to characters like Ben. You can tell she's speaking as a guy, but it doesn't sound silly or overdone. This is so, so important to me because I'm often really distracted by things like that. I also loved when she read lines in which Cody or another character was especially emotional. There is this one passage in particular, where Cody is near tears, when Jorjeana's voice so perfectly captured that. The only downside is that, when I hear tears in someone's voice, I start to cry, too! I loved Jorjeana's narration so much that I ended up looking into other books she's narrated, 21 of which are YA. I immediately purchased three - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Some Quiet Place, and Liv, Forever - and I fully intend to pick up a few more!
Though I loved reading this novel, I think I enjoyed the audiobook more. When I read I Was Here, I felt really connected to Cody, but the audio allowed me to connect more deeply with Meg and the secondary characters. Perhaps this was, in part, because I was experiencing the story for the second time and noticing details about characters other than Cody that I'd missed the first time. Regardless, I think it was Jorjeana's stellar narration that made the secondary characters pop and fleshed out Meg, who the listener only knows through the memories and interactions with other characters.
I'm a huge fan of this book and the audio. Highly recommended.