Meg Rosoff – What I Was

**Definite Spoiler Alert**

I really enjoyed Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, so when I was in the bookstore last week, I decided to see if any other books of hers were in stock.  I ended up choosing What I Was because I was intrigued by it, and I started reading it right away.

As I read through this book, I thought it was really cute, and really sweet.  I loved the quiet way Hilary (who is a sixteen year old boy) and Finn’s relationship developed.  So many chapters went by where nothing really happened, but yet something occurred, and I loved it.  I had so much fun trying to determine how things would play out; I could see different alternatives, and I would have been fairly happy with any of them.

However, then the ending came.  Here is the big spoiler — Finn is revealed to be a girl, and…that is where my disappointment surged up and overflowed.  I want to say this ending was a cop-out, but it was not; there is not a neat ending because suddenly it’s between a girl and a boy, and I really appreciated that.  Regardless of this, however, I just didn’t think the ending was necessary.  I thought it ruined the whole tone of the story, that sweet, cute, mysterious relationship, and I didn’t think it made any sense.  I mean, why would Finn pretend to be a boy?  And if it is argued that she didn’t actively try to be a boy, then why did she try to hide being a girl?  Nothing would have drastically changed if she had been upfront with Hilary from day one, or perhaps up front with herself, and the story could have had an entirely different flavour, which could have been just as interesting.  As it is, however, I was left with a deep sense of annoyance and a desire to have not really read the ending at all.

I have been struggling, then, with how to rate this book.  I was thoroughly disappointed with the ending, but I enjoyed the rest of the book, and I do appreciate that the ending was not ultimately a cop-out.  I still want to read more from Meg Rosoff, but this story just didn’t have the same impact for me as How I Live Now did, and so I guess I will say that I liked it, though I was really hoping to love it instead.  ***1/2

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