Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142420891
ISBN-13: 978-0142420898
Series: If I Stay #2
Source: Purchased from Books-A-Million
Cover: Is it just more or does this girl look like Lacey from Flyleaf? (*see image below). I mean, that's all I can see in this cover. Even so, I think this is beautiful. I wasn't a fan of the cover redesign for the re-release of If I Stay but I thought this cover was infinitely more beautiful and even looking at it here, I can see I'm not wrong. I love the softness of her long hair and white shirt behind the vivid light blue background.
First Sentence: Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: It's just one day, one twenty four-hour period to get yourself through.

Mini-Review: A beautiful and touching study of what happens after grief.

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.

If I Stay is one of my favorite YA books I've ever read, so this sequel had huge shoes to fill. While it maintained the beauty of the first novel, it fell just shy of my expectations. This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it immensely--I was stuck in Adam's rock star world, riveted trying to find out what happened and crying out for an ending I could live with. In that aspect, I got exactly what I needed. I guess Where She Went just didn't touch me in the same way as the first one but it did succeed in sprouting new questions.

Adam was perfect in If I Stay. In my mind, there was this capsule of a boy willing to do everything, even let the girl he loves go, if only she'd choose to live. This was how I saw him. He was glowing. And then we met this slightly cowardly, kind of a dick rock star that he's become in a few short years and I have to readjust everything I thought. The truth was, if he'd been exactly how he was in the first novel, there would have been no place for this story to go. He didn't need to change in the first book but he certainly did in this one. I thought everything about the boy we met in Where She Went was sort of a ghost. He was terrified of fame, not thankful for the chances he got and unable to communicate any of these feelings with anyone. It hurt me to see him that way. But this also gave his character an incredible chance to grow.

We get caught in these moments of brilliance throughout this one night with Mia. Forman is a master at capturing moments that we all want to freeze in. Her novel is filled with these little moments strung together like white Christmas lights. These are enhanced by the beauty of her writing, the way Adam sees things just a little differently than everyone else. I liked how his voice was a little poetic while also still feeling like a guy. It told us what made him special enough to have made it to rock star status.

I wasn't crazy with how internal the whole book was. I'm sort of torn on this point. On one hand, I understand because it's a mate to If I Stay and that was all internal since the main character was in a coma the entire time. However, I think keeping this one so much in his head slowed down the pacing just slightly. Not enough to make me want to put the book down and every time I went to pick it up, I didn't dread it but it did make some of the chapters feel a little bit slow.

Mostly I just really wanted the question that the title poses answered. What happened to make Mia and Adam drift apart when they just got a second chance to be together? It let me know how much I cared about Adam that even though he showed us he had turned into kind of an ass, I was still as angry with Mia as he was. But what I loved even more was that when everything came to light, I didn't blame either of them. Forman did such an amazing job showing us how their relationship looked from both sides that it forced me to get out of Adam's head and see it like Mia did. I like that it made them equals again.

I also think that Where She Went did such an amazing job of exploring the after-effects of grief on everyone involved. If I Stay was sort of an immediate testimony to grieving but Where She Went is what happens after the loss of someone you love doesn't mean as much to other people. It explores those feelings of whether or not we think we deserve to grieve. I loved this because these are feelings I've experienced myself. It's great to see them addressed.

Where She Went might not have been the same as the first novel but it was never meant to be that way. It's the consequences of exactly what staying means...that life has to go on and sometimes it goes in directions we don't like. While I wasn't fond of who Adam became, I was so glad to take this final journey with him and Mia. Beautifully written and completely absorbing, Where She Went is a testament to the after. And it makes one hell of a statement.

Favorite Lines:
But then, as we got bigger, people began to dissect the songs, like a frog from biology class until there was nothing left but guts--tiny parts, so much less than the sum.
--Pg. 13 of "Where She Went" by Gayle Forman
...But instead of hunching over her cello, her body seemed to expand, to bloom, and the music filled the open spaces around it like a flowering vine.
--Pg. 49 of "Where She Went" by Gayle Forman
All of us in the band tried to keep it in check, but it was hard not to inhale their stardust.
--Pg. 109 of "Where She Went" by Gayle Forman
"Can we just stay like this for a while?" (Mia)/ "All night long if you want. We'll tell our secrets to the dark." (Adam)
--Pg. 174 of "Where She Went" by Gayle Forman
That's the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition it is. Because no matter how important they'd been to me, no matter how sorry people told me they were, Denny and Kat and Teddy weren't my family, and suddenly that distinction had mattered.
--Pg. 185 of "Where She Went" by Gayle Forman

*Now double take this:


  1. Need to read this book!!! I've had it for forever, and I want to get ready for her new one. And I'm looking forward to Adam's POV!

    1. Yes my dear friend, you most certainly do!

  2. So I just finished If I Stay, and while I did like it, I didn't love it. It was missing some of the depth that I had seen so many other reviewers rave about. It's interesting that Adam has become more grungy in this book, after being so seemingly perfect in If I Stay. I actually think this would make me like him a bit more, since he's not so perfect. Although, that could change when I read this book. Overall, I'm glad you were able to enjoy this one even if you didn't like it as much as the first.

    Fantastic review Amber! <3 I can't wait to pick this one up for myself and see how I like it.

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

    1. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the first one as much as you were expecting. I know sometimes when everyone likes something, my expectations get too high and I ended up not liking something very much either. Hope Where She Went helps you like Adam a little bit better!

  3. Sorry it didn't connect with you like the first one.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


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