Review: Where She Went

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Where She WentWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on April 5, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 264
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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.

After having really enjoyed If I Stay, I was pretty stoked to read the sequel. Even before starting out, I definitely thought it was rather odd to write a sequel for a book like If I Stay. The whole question of book one is whether Mia will choose to live or not. And while, I suppose she could have chosen to leave and the sequel could be about the afterlife or everyone reacting to her death, that’s really not likely, and it’s definitely not the case. So, bold move.

Another bold writing move was the change of the narrator from Mia to Adam. Even though Adam was a big part of If I Stay, I never got a real read on what he was like as a person; I could tell that Mia loved him and that he was a pretty good guy and that was enough. Then, I started reading Where She Went and I found myself hating him and the book in general, largely as a result. Adam’s just a stereotype at the outset: a super successful rock star, who, whether intentionally or not, is hogging the spotlight, thus causing a rift with the band. He also pops pills, chain smokes and has trashed at least one hotel room. Plus, he has a hot actress girlfriend, which is an improvement on the one night stands he had before her. I could not stand all of this, even though I understood that it was him falling apart after Mia. At least fall apart in an original manner.

The book definitely picked up when he and Mia began interacting. After having read the flashbacks from If I Stay of their relationship, the reader has an idea of what they were like together, and now it’s amazing to see them so stilted and awkward. They have grown and changed and are weighed down by all of the words unsaid.

My favorite aspect of the novel is definitely the one last night before they were both to depart on their tours. It has a Before Sunrise feel to it. I love that movie, so it’s not surprising that I would dig that element here. While such a brief time period could be limiting, it has an interesting way of being very freeing, since it’s your last chance and you just need to get things out. I thought that was very well done.

All and all, having finished the book, I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. It might be too optimistic, but, then again, maybe it works just right considering all the crap the characters had to go through to get there. Perhaps time will tell as I think back on the book. Either way, this is not a book you will want to miss reading if you enjoyed the first, even though it is quite different. I can offer a couple of readalikes too, both selected for characters overcoming grief (and the stupid things they have done in their grief): Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly and Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft.

4 responses to “Review: Where She Went”

  1. Any cool band mentions? I loved when “If I Stay” mentioned the Melvins and Wipers.

  2. Christina says:

    This one mentioned The Wipers again for sure. I’ve never heard of either of those bands. I think there was a listing of bands in the early chapters too, but I don’t remember who was on it.

  3. Gaby says:

    This book was my very favorite. I just loved that it was in Adam’s POV

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, it was a really brave decision to write a sequel to If I Stay, since that kind of removes any question of what her decision will be in book one. I mean, I guess it could be about people dealing, but you would know from the description.

      Once I got used to the way Adam thought, I really loved it.

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