Book Review (#8): What I Was by Meg Rosoff

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A few months ago, right before exams in university, my friends and I decided to have a blind book exchange for which we wrapped our books in opaque coverings and left little hints as to what the book is like. And this was one of the two books I picked and I can honestly say that I was lucky. I had a better, more elegant review set up in my head when I read this book during exam season. Alas, all the pretty thoughts are gone now. I still have important things to say about it though.

It started out slow, like really, really slow, and it went on with random, seemingly insignificant events, the way a Salinger novel would, but quite different from it in style of writing anyway. And this goes on till midway through the book where some strings start to intersect and you can find yourself finally really hooked onto the story line.

We get to hear the story from the narrator and main character of the story whom we never get to know the name of. We hear a lot of things about him though: his reputation in school, what he looks like, etc. And this is a boy who is struggling with finding a reason to follow the system –mostly school, and for a less extent, everything that’d follow making it out of school. This is, perhaps, why I really connected with the book because during exams, I was very good at finding faults in the system and trying to use that as an excuse to slacken.

Thankfully, our poor little narrator finds someone he’d like to befriend though said person isn’t really inclined to making making a friend, and it kicks of from there.

It’s actually a small book, two hundred and something pages, if I remember correctly, and we don’t get serious action –like, we aren’t on the edge of our seats until we’re nearing the last 80 pages or so. And I was okay with that. There’s lots of character development, which is always fun to go through and I loved the pacing of the process of friendship; it really worked for me.

Somewhere around the end of the book, we get a revelation that I honestly didn’t see coming, and it’s the kind of revelation that makes you want to head back to the very beginning of the book and read it all over again to see if you’ve missed any signs. I honestly don’t know if there are any, and that makes me happy. This means I’ll have to reread this book at some point and see it through completely different eyes and rediscover it, and I don’t think we get a chance to do something like that often.

The friend I received this book from says that it’s very perfect to pick off the shelf and just read a chapter out of every now and then. And knowing the book, I’d imagine that it’s something very soothing. And this is why I can’t wait to acquire my own copy of it.

In a nut shell, for me, this was quite a perfect young adult book, wonderful for self-exploration and there’s great character growth throughout it all. It’s also different from most of the YA books we have circulating around as it’s very realistic and not as action-packed.  It taught me a couple of things and the way it’s told affected the way I thought for several days after I was done with it. It also always put me in a great mood and just writing this review and having to sit down and think about it again really put in a better mood.

I hope you get a chance to pick up this lovely book, and if you’ve read it, please let me know what it was like for you. I hope you’re having a great time and expect more from me soon!

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