Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 4/25/11
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Blurb (GR): It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
My heart gushed rivers of love when I reviewed If I Stay. I listened to the audiobook and just adored it because it felt like Gayle Forman tapped into my heartbeat and the rhythm beat right through to the end. I put off reading Where She Went because I wasn’t ready for another heartache. As it turns out, this is a rare instance where the sequel (or companion) has an entirely different tone than its predecessor. Rightly so, as Where She Went is told from Adam Wilde’s point of view, whereas If I Stay was primarily about Mia, his ex-girlfriend. In regards to spoilers, it is near impossible to have anything to say about this book without spoilering things about the first, but I think WSW can stand on its own even if you do know the setup. That said, I’m not going to use spoiler html on anything related to If I Stay. Since Mia decided to come out of her comatose state, she’s been studying at Juilliard. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, shot to the top of the charts and he is recognized everywhere he goes. The band’s two albums are filled with songs Adam wrote, and it should come as no surprise who served as the inspiration for all the lyrics. While he is dating a famous actress and has achieved so much musical success, Adam is disillusioned with life and the way Mia left things when she cut him off cold. Before he embarks on a world tour, he goes to one of Mia’s cello performances and gets the chance to speak with her afterward. Cue the life and relationship analysis…
Several reviewers have mentioned that this book wasn’t as enjoyable as it could’ve been because Adam seems overly angst-ridden for nearly the entire thing. Sure, I can see that. The whole thing just felt over-the-top, I agree, but I just loved the two of them together so I wanted to think their relationship could define Adam’s whole being, his anger, his disillusionment. I wanted to believe that he was missing his perfect complement. It was so interesting to me because the first book felt like an exercise in grief at the time I listened to it. I see now that, just like in life, the time right after a death is surreal. It doesn’t hit home for everyone at the same time. That book is about losing someone. (or many someones) This book is about the actual recognition of loss and the crisis that follows, whether it be from the end of a life or the end of a meaningful relationship. As someone who has seen what a terrible breakup can do to a person, it didn’t feel like Adam’s actions were beyond the realm of possibility. True, he was sometimes a prick. True, it didn’t seem like he tried to move on. I was just rooting for him to get his own life back together.
Where She Went reads like a novella. I watched as the percentage completed on my Kindle just flew by. For me, there were a few negative points—the lyrics at the beginning of each chapter (not because they were awful, only because it is cliché) and Mia, for starters. She came off as self-involved and I didn’t enjoy how aloof she seemed. I felt like I was holding my breath through a tunnel until the two of them actually start talking about something real. After that point, it was a much more comfortable read, despite the plot remaining heavy.
I was both happy and disappointed at the conclusion of Where She Went. I have to spoiler it and, for that, I apologize. **SPOILERS**I don’t think I’m encouraged by Adam and Mia getting back together right away. Mia has had 3 years to build up a life for herself. She said herself that Juilliard was more than she ever thought it could be. She thought of Adam but he didn’t define her. Adam, on the other hand, spent the last three years missing her, writing songs about her, and taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills to compensate for the void. He never had that time after the breakup to actually figure out who he is. They get back together—great, except I am still unsure how much he understands about himself. He seemed so willing to just give everything up for her…and I kind of believe he would do just that if she asked him. That’s depressing.**END SPOILERS**
Many people loved Adam in If I Stay and if you were one of them, I’m fairly confident you’ll enjoy this one as well. Forman does a good job of creating a realistic male voice and painting raw emotions on the page. And to the rest of you, if you can handle the angst and the foreverlove foreverandalways, give it a try. Hey, at least there’s not a love triangle.