To describe What I Was as a ‘coming-of-age’ tale, or a romantic tale of admiration, desire and desperation would only be scratching the surface of this beautifully written novel. Meg Rosoff has captured something within the enchanting words of Hilary’s tale that is not quite tangible. I felt myself searching for something in the novel that was not explicit on the pages, but rather hanging in the air like dew on the morning grass.
What Is It About?
When Hilary is transported to (yet another) school he finds the future increasingly bleak. That is, until he comes across the rugged boy that lives upon the beach, Finn. What struck me as most absorbing was Hilary’s discourse. Hilary is an extremely perceptive individual, with ideas and thoughts on life and the people that are so well honed it is hard to believe that he is not older. However, his character is altered after meeting Finn that as readers we notice a kind of regressive attitude towards the world in general. His dependence on Finn’s existence and his desire to not only be around but in some kind of way actually be Finn is captivating.
My Personal Response
I found the character of Finn to be extremely fascinating, the reader is transported into a similar state to Hilary in the sense that Rosoff leaves us intrigued by this fellow, his beginnings, his present and what will happen to him in the future. Furthermore, the novel has an unexpected twist that results in both boy’s worlds turned upside down.
My only disappointment with this novel was that the retrospective aspect of it ended quite abruptly, so that the reader is dragged quite quickly into the present. Little information is given as to what has happened between the ripe age of sixteen and the one hundred years that Hilary is as he is telling us his tale. However, Hilary comments that as human beings we reach a point in our lives where we look back and wonder where the time has gone, and the ending therefore supports this point of view.
Why Should You Read It?
An engaging novel that is both complex and skilful – what is not to like? The characters of Hilary and Finn both undergo development in each other’s company which is not only fascinating, but makes this a novel that you will not want to put down until you have finished it.
If you click on the image of the book you will be transported to the website i use purchase my books, and please follow this link: http://www.megrosoff.co.uk/blog/ to read the author’s blog.
Have you read this novel before? If so, what did you think?