In the not too distant future, a one-hundred-year-old man called H sails the eastern coast of England with his godson. H recalls when he himself was sixteenhis godsons ageas they search for the site of Hs life-altering friendship with a boy named Finn. Finn lives alone on an isolated slip of land and follows no rules: he spends his days swimming, fishing, and collecting driftwood for his tiny beach hut. H, on the other hand, is an upper-class boarding school boy stifled by monotony and endless rules. They meet by chance on the beach, and H is immediately awed by (and jealous of) Finns way of life. They strike up an unlikely friendship but the gap between their lives becomes difficult to bridge, and before long the idyll that nurtured their relationship is shattered by heart-wrenching scandal.
Meg Rosoff was formerly a YA author, but her work transcends categorization and we are delighted to bring it to adult readers for the first time. What I Was is a timeless, enthralling story destined to become a classic.
The treat of the book is Rosoff’s beautiful and mythically charged setting. Her lush prose paints the craggy rocks and crashing sea surrounding Finn’s fairy-tale-like shack and the bone-aching chill of the damp winds with unforgettable detail. However, her stellar prose makes the book all the more disappointing, as it sets the reader up to expect greatness through-and-through. While the three star rating indicates "average", Rosoff's talents are anything but, so if you're a newcomer, start with How I Live Now to experience the full breadth of her fiction. (Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
Times (UK) - Amanda Craig
Despite its deliciously ironic tone, What I Was is a melancholy book, suffused with a distinctly middle-aged person’s awareness of time lost .... The kind of reader who adores Rumer Godden, Dodie Smith and K. M. Peyton will ... respond to the story of someone who has, as he says in the end, been "starved at an early age –" not of food, but of love and affection. Teenagers always feel like this, however. They do not believe they are loved any more than they believe they are beautiful, clever or ridiculously glum. They will, of course, find out.
Library Journal - Robin Nesbitt
Rosoff, the Printz Award-winning author of How I Live Now, creates a coming-of-age tale full of mystery and angst. Relying on a narrator looking back at his life, the reader is in for an intriguing read.
Rosoff's unconventional coming-of-age tale is elegantly crafted, though some readers might be turned off by the narrator's unrelenting cynicism ...Nonetheless, Rosoff elegantly portrays how we often become who we need to be.
Kirkus Reviews Great Expectations meets Death in Venice in this visceral, intensely surprising tale from Rosoff.
The Guardian - Philip Ardagh
As you would expect from Rosoff, the writing is thoughtful and insightful but, at times, the voice and actions don't quite ring true.
Time Out London
Every bit as compelling and all-encompassing as the multi-award-winning How I Live Now and Just In Case (for which she picked up this year's Carnegie Medal), What I Was is another coming-of-age novel which sucks the reader whole into its universe.
It makes us fall in love not only with Finn but also with the Suffolk coast, the land, the sky and the sea passionately described in airy and crystalline prose. It's already a classic.'
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Stephanie Lennox Uhm... Has everyone gone insane? This book is expertly written, I will admit...but hardly as wonderful as everyone makes out. There is so much that is left unexplained, leaving nothing but disappointment in the eyes of any reader. I don't even understand... Read More
If you read
interviews and blogs
about Meg Rosoff you
may find references
to a book called The Dark Ages.
This was the title
that she first gave
to her story about H
and Finn, but which
she later renamed What I Was.
What I Was
was published as
a young adult title
in the UK in summer
2007, but was
positioned as a book
for adults in the USA -
situation for an
according to her
blog, has mixed
feelings about being
identified as a
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