What I Was by Meg Rosoff [Review]

Book Cover of What I Was by Meg Rosoff

I’ve enjoyed both previous books I’ve read by Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now and Just in Case) particularly her use of slightly unconventional narrative styles. And, that even after fantastic success with one method, she’s mixes things up with the next. So, that whilst you can tell it is one of her books, they are unique from each other.

And that, I am pleased to say is still the case with this one. Narrated by an old man looking back on a short but intense period of his life when he was 16. It plays with both the characters and the readers perceptions.

Hilary, is sixteen years old, and, after being expelled from his two previous schools, has just been shipped off to a boarding school on the coast of East Anglia, England.

It’s obvious that Hilary feels constrained by the regimented order that the institution runs by, and when one day, whilst out on a cross country run, he meets Finn, another teenager who lives in a run down hut by-the-sea.

Immediately drawn to both Finn’s aloofness and freedom, Hilary soon returns, and bit-by-bit the two become friends.

Finn, un-marked by years of living in close proximity of other boys, in cold, dark, depressing dormitories, is a lot of things Hillary is not: mysterious, self-sufficient, free

From the start, you can tell there is something more than ‘friendship’, that Hilary is seeking from the relationship between the two. Rosoff, brilliantly captures the complexity of Hilary’s feelings, he’s attracted to Finn, idolises him, wants to be him, but the only thing he is sure of, is that he longs to spend as much time with Finn as possible.

As I mentioned at the start, Meg Rosoff, plays with everybody’s perceptions in this one, and throughout the novel there is the sense that there is more going on than you are aware of, but thankfully it’s very subtle and never gets in the way of the lovely and gentle prose.

Originally published in the UK as a YA title, and in the US as an adult title, this straddles that divide perfectly and will equally appeal to both groups.

It’s not quite my favourite of Meg Rosoff’s books, that one is still, How I Live Now, but she sets such a high standard, that’s not really saying much. 🙂

…I sighed. And yet… how was it that Finn’s silences turned my words into dust? No matter how heartfelt my thoughts, the noises I made when I was with him took on the quality of monkeys jabbering in trees. While his silence had the power to shatter glass.

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Buy: What I Was by Meg Rosoff from The Book Depository

13 thoughts on “What I Was by Meg Rosoff [Review]

    • February 24 at 10:41 pm
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      I’ve enjoyed every Rosoff I’ve read so far, I’m sure you’ll like this one!

      Thanks for noticing the the header! I’m pretty pleased with it, been wanting something with a bit more fun to it for a while now.

  • January 13 at 9:16 pm
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    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! She is incredibly versatile, isn’t she? I have got to read Just in Case soon.

    • January 17 at 10:38 am
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      I’ve certainly enjoyed everything by her so far!

  • January 11 at 5:25 am
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    I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about this author, but I’ve yet to pick up one of her books – primarily because BookMooch seems oblivious to her existence! Silly book buying ban. 🙂
    .-= Trisha´s last blog ..Sunday Salon: Bloggiesta! =-.

  • Pingback: Sunday Salon: The #Bloggiesta Edition! | Bart's Bookshelf

  • January 10 at 6:33 pm
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    That’s a gorgeous quote – and I’m convinced now that I must read the book! Great review.
    .-= Celia´s last blog ..starting off angelic =-.

  • January 10 at 2:21 am
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    I want to read this, but for some reason my library has all her books but this one! I will have to buy it at some point…
    .-= Kailana´s last blog ..Fall by Colin McAdam =-.

    • January 10 at 5:58 pm
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      I think it will be worth it! 😀

  • January 9 at 10:11 pm
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    I actually read this Rosoff book first. Even though i am enjoying YA more and more, i still have a little bit of prejudice and decided to start with Rosoff’s adult book. I have to agree with you though, How I Live Now is my favorite.
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Giovanni’s Room =-.

    • January 10 at 6:00 pm
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      Interesting that you read this one first and still prefer How I Live Now, I think some of it for me is down to the fact I read that one first and it holds a more special place…

  • January 9 at 8:26 pm
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    I enjoy Meg Rosoff even though she writes books I don’t normally read. I read How I Live Now and I love it. Thanks for the review.
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..Bloggiesta To Do List =-.

    • January 10 at 6:02 pm
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      I think she is one of those authors you have to read everything by! 😀

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