What I Was

What I Was is a beautifully crafted and heartbreakingly poignant coming-of-age tale that is set mainly in a hut on an isolated strip of land in East Anglia. The narrator is an older man who recounts the story of his most significant friendship--that with the nearly feral and completely parentless Finn, who lives alone in a hut by the sea. He idolizes Finn and spends as much time with him at the beachside hut as possible, hoping to become self-reliant and free instead of burdened by the boarding school dress code and curfew. But the contrast between their lives becomes evermore painful, until one day the tables turn and everything our hero believes to be true explodes--with dire consequences.

Reviews from Goodreads.com

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By April (ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · ★★★★☆ · March 01, 2009
I miss books like this. It’s been so long since I’ve come across one. What I Was found me today at Chapters. I can’t even tell you where. Was it on a table (20 books to read before you’re 20? Maybe New & Hot Teen Fiction?), or maybe just there on the shelf. I have no idea now. But anyway. I p... ...more
By Suzanne (Springfield, PA) · ★★★★☆ · February 02, 2008
I don't know what to rate this book... I don't know what to make of it. I would prefer to give it a 3.5 but since halvsies aren't allowed I rounded up. This book immediately drew me in and I could not put it down (would spellbinding be too strong?). I was absolutey captivated, and Rosoff threw in... ...more
By Jessica (Collingswood, NJ) · ★★★★☆ · August 05, 2009
Review published here: http://www.hipsterbookclub.com/review...

Meg Rosoff's novel What I Was will early on remind readers of John Knowles's classic coming of age tale, A Separate Peace. Both books feature an adult narrator reminiscing about his time as a 16-year-old in a boarding school and the d... ...more
By Meg · ★★★★☆ · April 01, 2014
What an intriguing little book.

I knew from experience that Meg Rosoff doesn’t pen your “average” young adult fiction; indeed, How I Live Now was one of the more offbeat, compelling and disturbing YA books I’ve ever read. I finished it almost four years ago, yet I can recall certain passages and t... ...more
By Rose · ★★★★★ · February 17, 2013
Honestly, I spent more than half this book wishing it wouldn't end in the way it ended. But there was something overally beautiful and touching that I can't really put my finger on. So I give this book five stars for it's heartwarming, realistic story and more so for the feeling it gives you.
What... ...more
By Shonna (Markham, ON, Canada) · ★★★★☆ · November 20, 2012
I've always enjoyed everything I've read by Rosoff, and this was no exception. This book has an elderly man looking back at the year he was sixteen. The year was 1962 and he was in his third boarding school, having been kicked out of the previous two. He has no real ambition and tries to keep to... ...more
By Liberty (The United Kingdom) · ★★★☆☆ · August 06, 2010
What’s Good About It

Meg Rosoff does write beautifully. Her prose is haunting and perfectly captures the intensity of the relationship between the main character and Finn, and the backdrop against which the story is played. There’s a particularly beautiful bit in which a storm is described that le... ...more
By Erin (Toronto, ON, Canada) · ★★★★★ · February 09, 2013
This book was absolutely phenomenal. I brought it on a camping trip because it was relatively small (and therefore easy to carry) and I bought it for $5 so I wasn't particularly worried about it. I had a day to relax, and I started the book.
I had started it once before, but it didn't grab me in t... ...more