Where She Went by Gayle Forman
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.
Here’s the scoop:
I’ll tell you right now, if I could marry this book and its predecessor, If I Stay, I’d do it in a heartbeat. We’d have a quick ceremony and a short honeymoon then live somewhere where there’s no snow, obviously, and I’d bury my head in its pages and spend all of my time rapturously in love with each character. But since I can’t do that (I’m already married and I think he’d be offended if I left him for a book), I’ll talk endlessly about my love for this story, its character and the beautiful words written by Gayle Forman. (Poor Vee has had to read this ad nauseam already, via my crazy texts and e-mails. Really. Be glad you aren’t my close friend).
When I love a book, the very idea of a sequel is sort of terrifying and exciting all at once. While I enjoy the chance to catch up with characters I feel connected to, I fear reading anything that with scar their story for me and end it on a note I dislike. So for those who are fans of the first book, let me say, “Fear not.”
Where She Went is really more of a continuation of the story fans fell in love with when they met Mia in If I Stay. It is, of course, a complete story in itself, told from the perspective of Adam, three years since the accident that took Mia’s family and changed both their lives forever. It runs seamlessly from Mia’s story, with Forman carefully weaving in the details of all we missed in the three years leading up to now.
Adam is living the life most dream of. His band, Shooting Star, has had a successful album. He’s a full-fledged rock star, living in Los Angeles, preparing to go on tour. Instead of finding the joy he once did in his music, he only finds dread. He’s used it as a form of therapy, venting over his anguish in being abandoned by Mia, who walked out of his life after leaving for Juilliard. Forman makes his broken state so immediate and palpable that I instantly ached for him and was both saddened by the turn he’s taken and touched by the impact of his grief over Mia.
As fate would have it, Adam stumbles upon a concert Mia is performing and slips in hoping to secretly catch a glimpse of her. Ironically, the celebrity status he often hates is what keeps him from going unnoticed and hence, what alerts Mia to his presence. She invites him backstage and thus, with a single night together before each of them heads off to tours on opposite sides of the world (Mia on her first as a professional cellist), they awkwardly and almost accidentally spend it together.
I loved the opportunity to get inside Adam’s head; to hear his memories of Mia and her family, to see him describe the pain of watching her recovery and the great lengths he went to in trying to rescue and protect her. It all made me fall for his character more. The chapters are laced with lyrics from the songs he’s written–songs about losing Mia–and they show his sad, heartbroken state.
Like If I Stay, Where She Went has emotional weight. Though it’s tinged with sadness, there is so much sweetness in the memories of the life Adam lived before. And the opportunity to see Mia, to know that she’s recovered and grown into the happy, beautiful and successful young woman she was always meant to be feels like such a privilege, as the reader. Maybe it’s the mom in me, but I needed to know she was more than just “surviving.” I needed to see her truly living and embracing life. There were several moments that got to me, be it Adam’s lyrics, or memories of Mia’s rehabilitation, or Adam’s love for Teddy, but it was the end that made me cry most. After the final words, I put the book down, smiled and then lost it. My husband looked at me with his eyebrows raised and said, “That sad?” And I shook my head and said, “No. That good.”
It’s so rare that I read a book that’s so good it makes me cry (I mean, I cry all the time, but usually it’s because of the sadness of it all— not purely because I’m thrilled by how satisfying it is). That’s how I feel about Mia and Adam’s story. It’s so beautifully written, with a realistic sense of loss, the healing that comes only with time, and just the right touch of romance. It’s a fitting end to their tale.
Crush Intensity: 5/5 Um, so good I cried. Yep. I think that says it all.
Quick side note, I need to give a HUGE thank you to my awesome YA Librarian, Julianne, who loaned me her advance copy of this book! On April 5, when it’s finally released I will be getting my own copy so I can revisit it regularly.