I Was Here follows a girl named Cody whose best friend, Meg, committed suicide. She always thought of Meg as her bubbly, happy go lucky best friend, and she's left feeling a huge sense of loss and confusion after her death. At the request of Meg's parents, Cody travels to Meg's apartment to collect her belongings where she finds several things about Meg that she doesn't quite understand, particularly an encrypted file and a guy named Ben McAllister who Meg briefly described to Cody in past emails. When Cody dives deeper into this side of Meg that she hardly knows about, she starts to question whether she knew her best friend at all.
I was immediately drawn to Cody because I could feel her loss. I sympathized with her when she really started questioning whether or not she really knew her best friend. Even though I liked most things about Cody, she almost left me with a ton of frustration. I just thought she was pretty selfish because in the book it describes how Meg would reach out to her to come and visit her at school, but Cody would just make open-ended promises with no intention of actually making it there, and that just really upset me. She just wasn't a good best friend at times, and it was almost like she was trying to justify it by diving deeper into Meg's suicide, which is understandable. I loved Cody, and I think the only reason I got so frustrated with her is because she was such a believable character.
I loved the development between Cody and her mom. One thing I love about YA novels is that there's usually the main character and their best friend with some kind of conflict aside from what the plot actually is, but in this case, since the best friend was dead, Gayle Forman still brought that element into it but made it with Cody's mom instead. This was an element of the book that was so relatable to me, and I loved how Gayle made their relationship progress throughout the novel in small ways.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Gayle Forman novel without a bit of romance, right? I really loved Ben as a character. In fact, I think it's safe to say that he was my favorite character. That being said, I wasn't a huge fan of Cody and Ben together. At times, it was okay, but at other times, it just seemed forced. Their lives were kind of thrown together accidentally because of Meg's death, but I feel like they chose the wrong people to lean on in this tragedy. I think if the novel were written with them just as friends and not romantically entangled, I would have enjoyed their relationship a lot more. I also didn't like the blase mention of Ben and Meg's former "relationship," and it was just weird how they came together in that way.
Overall, I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. It wasn't my favorite by Gayle Forman, but I definitely still enjoyed it!