Where She Went

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Where She Went
by Gayle Forman
★★★★☆

***This book is a sequel to Forman’s novel If I Stay. I won’t spoil anything in Where She Went, but I will assume you’ve read If I Stay.***

In If I Stay, a high school senior, Mia Hall, lost her whole family in a horrible car crash. She almost died, but pulled through at the end of the book when he boyfriend Adam begs her to stay. The whole story is told from her point-of-view as she sees Adam, her friends and extended family visit her in the hospital.

In Where She Went we pick up three years later. We learn that Mia and Adam aren’t together, but we don’t know why. She’s become a famous cellist and attends Julliard, Adam has become a famous rockstar, but his life’s a mess. The story is told from Adam’s perspective, which was a wonderful choice. Each chapter starts with beautiful lyrics Adam wrote and they really spoke to the story instead of feeling like a gimmick.

Honestly I liked this book ever more than If I Stay. The characters became more real to me. They had more depth and more pain. You find yourself rooting for them to find peace, because their struggles are so realistic.

It would be easy to dismiss Adam and Mia's two-year relationship as a high school love that could never last, but there’s more to it. Going through the horrible loss that happened in the first book bonded them together in an irreversible way. No matter what came after that, Mia and Adam became a sort of family for each other.

I loved how Forman decided to switch perspectives and toss us into the story a few years down the road. She explores the way love can destroy us and change us so deeply, for better or worse, that we never quite recover. The people you love become a part of you.

***I received this advanced reader copy from the publisher**

**On a side note, there's a scene where Adam borrows someone's iPod without knowing exactly what music will be on it. He needs the music to help him find some peace. It reminded me of strange night in Ireland when a friend loaned me her iPod. I flew to Dublin from London with some friends and my eardrum burst on the plane ride over. After 8 hours in a shady ER and then four days touring the country, I couldn't fly back with everyone else. The doctors had told me that flying was off the table until my ear healed. So I took a bus/ferry/bus back to London by myself, while they flew home.

My friend left her iPod with me (this was before I had one) and it was one of the kindest things she could have possibly done. Sitting on a dirty floor in a Dublin bus station, then on a crowded overnight bus for hours and hours, the music gave me comfort. I didn't know what bands I would find as I scrolled through the artists, but soon songs from Iron and Wine, the Beatles, the Postal Service, the Shins (along with a battered copy of Mansfield Park), were keeping me company. Music is such a powerful thing and Where She Went spoke about that so beautifully.

7 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I bet that scene really touched you, since you'd been there. What an experience for you! I have yet to read the first book, and there is no good reason I haven't. This is totally my kind of book. I love YA. I think I could almost read it full time.

Kristi said...

What a horrible experience for you! I'm glad that you found some solace in music and a good book (hopefully you enjoyed it). Music does have a way of taking you to unexpected emotional places and bringing back memories. At least your friend had good taste in music.

I haven't heard of these books, but I'm interested to pick them up now.

Jillian said...

I didn't read your review since I haven't read this yet but I did look at your rating. Haha. I will read the full review when I finish.

Avid Reader said...

Sandy - I think you'd like it, based on your taste. Definitely read If I Stay first though.

Kristi - The book and music both helped and it makes a crazy story.

Jillian - I do that all the time. I tag the reviews and save them until I've read the book.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

What a beautiful review! I really enjoyed the first book and I'm glad to hear this one makes the characters even more real.

I'm so sorry to hear about your eardrum though. I hope you're all healed now!

Avid Reader said...

Kay - I hope you enjoy it! I'm definitely all healed, it was a couple years ago and now it's just an interesting memory. When things go wrong on trips, that's when you get the best stories.

Swapna said...

I was skeptical about the prospect of a sequel to IF I STAY, but your review makes me think that I might really enjoy this book. Thanks so much for the review!