Saturday, June 13, 2009

What I Was by Meg Rosoff

I read this book for my book club- we needed something a bit lighter for June!

This book is set in 1962 when 16 year old "H" is dropped off at his third boarding school on the coast of England. Everything you have ever heard or read about the dismal experiences at English boarding schools is true of St. Oswald's. "H" is determined to survive his year without putting in any effort into his school work or making friends. He has been at so many boarding schools that he knows how to play the game.

H's life changes though when he meets Finn. A boy living off the grid in society. Finn doesn't go to school, lives by himself and survives on his wits and courage. H and Finn develop a rather strange friendship. Being together is all H can think of, but it becomes very difficult for H to escape the school and the curious other boys at the school.

Meg Rosoff writes some very strange books. Her other book How I Live Now was also a strange story. I haven't really decided if I like her stuff or not. I am looking forward to chatting about this book in early July with others who have read the story.


  1. Ok. This book is WONDERFUL!! I absorbed the text ... Rosoff writes soooooo poetically. As H explored his feelings for Finn ... it all seemed very real to me. Those first feelings of adoration that you have for another being. So powerful, the attraction.

    I loved this scene when the two of them were on the high cliff, wedged in the cave opening: "As is was, nothing happened except the two of us watching the sea come in and go out again, listening to the birds, sheltering from the rain when it came, and lying silent as the sky changed from blue to white to gold. For hours we lay side by side, breathing softly together, watching thin rivulets of water run down the cliffs and into the sea, feeling the world slowly revolve around us as we leaned into each other for warmth - and for something else, something I couldn't quite name, something glorious, frightening, and unforgettable."


  2. hey kerry, well i read this and felt right at home. the englishness of it , the lovely rich cerebrality of it. the deep mapping of the relational pieces that take it way beyond the kissy face stuff that so many teen writers in north america pass off as "relationship". the 'moment' you picked for this review was by far and away the most resonant piece for me. visually and emotively filled beyond comprehension!! oh yeah! steven