Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

TITLE: Where She Went
AUTHOR: Gayle Forman
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Dutton Juvenile/2010
SERIES: Companion novel to If I Stay
SOURCE: Purchased

Goodreads / Author's Website

I'm normally a little weary of sequels. Especially if I loved the first book as I did with If I Stay , but the blogging community has had nothing but praise for both of these books so I when I went out to buy the If I Stay I bought Where She Went at the same time. I have absolutely no regrets about that decision. Where She Went is just as heartbreaking as as its predecessor and just as touching a story.

Where She Went picks up three years after If I Stay. Mia woke up, but later that year she left for Juilliard and never went back to Oregon while Adam became a world famous rock star. Told from Adam's perspective, we follow this couple as they meet in New York City for one night before they go back to what's become their regular lives.

Where do I even begin with this book? Thinking about it still gets me all teary eyed weeks after finishing it. Basically as soon as I finished If I Stay I had to pick up Where She Went and it broke my heart all over again. Mia's story was absolutely tragic, but reading Adam's perspective was every bit as heart wrenching. I didn't feel like I really got to know Adam in the first book, it wasn't his story. He was there; he was the supportive boyfriend, but the story was really about Mia. Where She Went turns the tables and we get to see how Adam is coping with this loss that affected him too.

It's been three years since the ending of If I Stay, but everybody's grief is still palpable. Adam didn't lose his family but he lost people who were like family to him and his girlfriend left. She had to, it was too difficult to live in the same town where she lost everything. Adam's heart is broken. One of the most touching scenes for me in the first book is when Adam begs Mia to stay, promising that he'll leave if he has to if it means she survives. His promise was so full of love. But when she does leave, it kind of destroys him.
Watching Adam deal with these layers of grief and blame is painful. It's just heartbreak on top of heartbreak. It was beautifully written and touching, but well heartbreaking.

I wasn't fully into the story until Adam and Mia meet again. Their interactions were almost painfully stilted and I just wanted to hug them both. It killed me that they weren't together anymore (even if it makes sense). Forman created characters that I cared about and felt for, that could affect me deeply. This isn't a book about doom and gloom; it's about people's resilience and ability to deal with grief and it is so worth the read.

It's not the plot that gets you with these books, it's the characters. Forman has crafted them so well that you'll be wholly invested in their story. I can't recommend this one enough.

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