Int'l librarian's Reviews > What I Was

What I Was by Meg Rosoff
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's review
Apr 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: grades-8-and-up, teen-boys, grade-8, grade-9, grades-11-12, grade-10
Read in April, 2012

I like how Meg Rosoff writes, so I deal with how uncomfortable she makes me feel.

The narrator of this story is 16 years old, sent away to suffer at a bleak, isolated boarding school on the North Sea coast. Rosoff masterfully establishes nature as a force. The sea has been battering the shoreline for centuries, an honest malice in contrast to school’s manufactured cruelties. The boy’s one solace is a reclusive friend named Finn, who lives alone in an abandoned island hut.

To this, Rosoff adds some twisted sexual dynamics. The narrator admits he’s in love with Finn. He claims an innocent attraction, even as he reinforces homoerotic boarding school stereotypes. And he frequently refers to himself as feminine: a nanny, a mother.

The mismatched threats of nature and "perversion" – the narrator’s label – are fated to explode. And still there’s so much left unresolved. The fadeout may be relatively calm, but it’s almost as confounding as all that precedes it.
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Reading Progress

08/27/2016 marked as: read

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