I was such a big fan of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, I couldn’t wait to read What I Was. What I was… was not disappointed! Rosoff completely changes her writing style in this latest book. In How I Live Now, her writing was more of a stream of consciousness. Her prose is beautiful in What I Was. I have a feeling this will be a contender for the Printz award.
Our main character is H. He is sent to a boarding school at St. Oswalds. It is a stark, cold place. Then H meets Finn. Finn is a beautiful young boy who seems to not have a past. Finn is not gifted with conversation. So H must clumsily move the friendship forward. H risks getting in trouble as he makes trips to Finn’s fisherman’s shack. H has feelings for Finn that are a mixture of love, intrigue and loneliness. Rosoff has a gift for describing relationships that are often taboo in a beautiful manner. In How I Live Now, the two first cousins fall in love. In What I Was, there is a relationship seemingly between two boys. But we soon find Finn is not at all what he seems.
Here is an example of Rosoff’s wonderful writing. H is speaking of Finn:
“He listened politely, without comment, head turned away from the sound of my voice. He might have been asleep for all I knew, so complete was his lack of response. And yet I thought I could feel him listening; I could almost see my words wandering in long trails around his head, circling, searching, until he sighed and yielded and granted them entry.”
The story takes a much unexpected turn I did not see coming. It was brilliant. I can’t say any more. I do not want to ruin it for anyone. It is like the Sixth Sense where Haley Joel Osment sees dead people. You will find yourself replaying scenes in the story to see if you could detect the foreshadowing.
1. Talk about the foreshadowing. Did they see it coming?
2. What clues did Rosoff leave along the way?
3. Discuss the levels of friendship? Do they think H and Finn have a taboo relationship?
There are more ideas, but I don’t want to ruin the ending!