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What I Was (2007)
by Meg Rosoff
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What I've come to expect from Meg Rosoff is spare, utterly enthralling prose, that tells a story from a teen perspective without judgment. She also manages to capture the surreal in everyday life and a somewhat indefinable portrait of the thought patterns of teenagers. That sounds more generalized than I mean. She makes me remember how I thought at that time in my life, and what was important, and how the world was strange and I didn't have any idea how it would turn out. Perspective. She's a master at portraying her characters' perspective and staying out of the story. Brilliant. ( )
Interesting. Nearly a fine book but missed the grade somehow. I got the feeling that it meant much more to the author but she wasn't really prepared to share with the reader when it came down to it. Shame because it was full of good rich ideas about identity and how it is formed.
Coming of age novel with a twist. Enjoyed its adolescently cynical humour which was a very strong element throughout, but not much else to recommend it to my adult palate. The events were too much of a stretch for me to get into the story. This kid from the school falls for another young kid from the village who lives on its own and isolated and kid one regularly visits kid two --with no one wising up from the school-- until one day there is a huge storm and a tragedy occurs...
The unnamed narrator recounts a brief period in his life when he was happiest. As a lackluster, watchful boy at a boarding school in 1960s England, the narrator is deeply unhappy. A chance encounter introduces him to the masterful Finn. Finn is his own age, but manages to live alone in a small hut by the sea. The narrator is fascinated, and insinuates himself into Finn's small, quiet life.
A quote near the end that I loved.
Interesting YA novel about a 16 year old boy in an 1962 England and how is life is changed by an inspirational, yet disturbing relationship with another teen. Slow going at first but the pace and intensity build.
'Mooi is Rosoffs dromerige beschrijving van hun bijna onwerkelijke ontmoeting. Net zo mooi als ook de beschrijving van de Britse oostkust. [...] Rosoff voelt die magie feilloos aan. Taal is haar kracht.'
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Wikipedia in English (1)
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 ever more painful, until one day the tables turn and everything our hero believes to be true explodes--with dire consequences.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.