What I Was. Meg Rosoff


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About the Author

Meg Rosoff had three or four careers in publishing and advertising before writing her highly acclaimed first novel, How I Live Now. She moved from New York City to London in 1989, where she lives with her husband and daughter. What I Was is her third novel, after How I Live Now and Just in Case, for which she was awarded the Carnegie Medal.


Praise for What I Was: 'Already a classic' -- Sunday Times 'Mesmerizing' - Daily Telegraph 'Mordantly funny and searingly well written' - The Times

Praise for What I Was: 'Already a classic' -- Sunday Times 'Mesmerizing' - Daily Telegraph 'Mordantly funny and searingly well written' - The Times

Former YA author Rosoff delivers an affecting buddy story about two adolescent boys in 1960s Britain. An unnamed man recounts his time as a disgruntled student at St. Oswald's boarding school; upon ditching an outdoor physical education class jog, he stumbles upon a mysterious fellow teen named Finn who lives alone and off the grid in a hut by the sea. The protagonist, enraptured by his newfound friend, makes it his business to spend as much time as possible with Finn, a major challenge considering school curfews and that the hut can only be accessed during low tide. Weeks go by and Finn falls ill, setting the stage for a surprising revelation that will dramatically transform both boys. Rosoff's unconventional coming-of-age tale is elegantly crafted, though some readers might be turned off by the narrator's unrelenting cynicism (particularly in his handling of another Oswald schoolboy), and the warning shots the narrator fires off about global warming are unnecessary. Nonetheless, Rosoff elegantly portrays how we often become who we need to be. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-The poignant reminiscences of an old man about the life-changing experiences of his 16th year are recounted with spellbinding immediacy and evocative language. Events take place in 1962, in a boy's boarding school on the sinking coastline of East Anglia. The cynical narrator has been expelled from two other boarding schools and longs for freedom from the sadistic discipline, cruel bullying, and mind-numbing curriculum. He wants to be free like Finn, the young teen who lives alone in a fisherman's hut by the sea. For most of the book the narrator's name is withheld. Readers know only that he is lonely, self-conscious, and yearns to be strong and independent. Finn welcomes him somewhat reluctantly, but soon the two meet regularly and a deep (if one-sided) emotional attachment is formed. Finn instructs his awkward new friend in the ways of survival and the history of this remote place as they explore the sinking rugged coast with its mysterious coves and ancient forts. The narrator disregards curfew as he regularly sneaks out of St. Oswald's School, recklessly racing the incoming tides and the undertow in order to arrive at Finn's cottage. Love and friendship are a dominant theme of the book. As the narrator's obsession with Finn and Finn's romantic medieval existence deepens, he becomes insensitive to the yearning friendship of a fellow classmate, with tragic results. Readers may have suspicions as to Finn's true identity but will believe sympathetically in the narrator's naivete and be greatly moved by his story.-Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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