Reading Level: High school and up
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (January 24, 2008)
What I Was is a reminiscence of an old man as he recounts a life changing experience during his sixteenth year. First, let me start by saying that I loved Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now- just as it captivated me, so too has What I Was. I think it’s safe to say that I love Rosoff’s work. She writes in a voice that captivates you and damn near makes you want to jump in and swim among her words. This novel was hauntingly magical. Rosoff explores the relationship between H and Finn. H hungers for new experiences far from the bleak halls of St. Oswald boarding school, the glares of authority and the taunts of his roommates. One afternoon, after stopping for a drink of water while running along the coast, H meets the young Finn, a teenage boy who seems content to live a life like Robinson Crusoe. Self-sufficient and contented, Finn makes his living by hauling boxes at the market and he not only has no parents, but lives alone and doesn't go to school. According to the government, Finn doesn't actually exist. H becomes obsessed with Finn as he attempts to escape both day and night from the daily rituals of St Oswald's, endeavoring to spend time with his new friend. H stalks him at the local market, everything he knows about Finn eventually coming to him in fragments, tiny shards to number and label and fit together.
This isn't so much sexual attraction, although there is a great love, but its more a type of vicarious living- the sensation of living inside another person's life. Eventually ignoring the ever-harsher glares of authority and the taunts of his roommates, H becomes more of a risk taker, braving the school's curfew to spend even more time with Finn. The accusations however, begin in whispers with Reese and Barrat and Gibbon, his roommates.
I was enchanted by every word Rosoff wrote. What I Was is the story of a friendship that is so strange that it can only exist within the woods that the story takes place. I loved H’s obsession with an obsession of my own. It was interesting to see how he dealt with it. It made me wonder if that isn’t what love is- wanting to be that person more than wanting to be ourselves. The relationship was not strained or tainted. There is a childlike delight in their relationship and a twist I could really not have seen coming.
This book was just awesome. I couldn't put it down and then when I did I couldn't stop thinking about H and Finn. It makes me want to burst with excitmen,t I love this book so much!
Not in any way your average story, I would not be surprised if it becomes one among the classics. Short and simply delightful you will not want to put this book down. A must read!
Where you can find Meg Rosoff and her delightful books:
Amazon: Meg Rosoff Author Page
GoodReads: Author Page