What I Was
Author: Meg Rosoff
A strange story, one that still leaves me uncomfortable, as though I missed something important and so didn’t quite ‘get’ what it was all about.
A first person narrative guides us through attendance at a gloomy, miserable boarding school, where regimented passivity and bullying are the main challenges to the day. The only escape is to a run-down cottage where a boy, living outside of society, enjoys a solitary life in the wild.
As with Rosoff’s first novel, How I Live Now, this is an intimate and poignant glimpse at one teenager’s awkward and turbulent coming of age. There’s something a little bit Catcher in the Rye here - likely it’s the dry dark humour bringing this to mind. The theme of love, of passion and yearning, is nicely tangled with confusion over identity and gender.
But in the end, there seemed little point to the Big Reveal – I was so sure the story was going somewhere very different, that I almost felt cheated with where it did go. There seemed to be little learned, and few consequences, and no exploration of the impact such a Reveal had on the main character – and I was left feeling I’d read something interesting, but with an unsatisfying resolution.