Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
By Gayle Forman

To Sum It Up: Three years have passed since the accident that tore Mia’s life apart and fractured her relationship with her boyfriend, Adam. He has achieved superstardom with his band, Shooting Star, and seemingly has everything he could want: money, fame, and an actress girlfriend. All he can think about is Mia, though, and why she stopped answering his calls and emails. Mia is gaining her own celebrity status in New York, where she now lives. Adam happens to be in the city when Mia is playing a recital at Carnegie Hall, and he can’t pass up the chance to maybe finally find out why Mia left and broke his heart.

Review: Where She Went is told from the perspective of Adam Wilde, Mia’s boyfriend from If I Stay. The story picks up three years after the accident that killed Mia’s parents and younger brother and left her critically injured. Although Adam is now a certified rock star, nothing can fill the void left by Mia’s departure for Juilliard and New York and her subsequently breaking off all contact with him. In If I Stay, Adam promised an unconscious Mia that he’d do anything she wanted, even let her go, if she only woke up. Now he’s living with the consequences of that promise.

This novel was every bit as beautiful and powerful as If I Stay. I even liked Where She Went a tad more. I thought that Forman made a brilliant choice in writing from Adam’s point-of-view this time and showing how Mia’s accident affected not only her but other people in her life, like Adam, as well. We learn about Mia’s grueling recovery from her injuries and her struggle to go on without her parents and brother through Adam’s flashbacks. These scenes are just as heartbreaking as the emotional moments in If I Stay, and once again, I found myself on the verge of tears quite a few times while reading this book.

The aspect of Where She Went that really hit home for me was the depiction of the ripple effect that tragedy can have, how far-reaching and lingering its effects can be. You do what’s necessary to survive when it strikes, but when you have time to think about it, it hurts. On bad days, it hurts a lot. In Adam’s case, the fallout from Mia’s accident still reverberates three years later. Neither his professional success nor a medicine cabinet filled with anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills can help him get over Mia leaving him. Adam’s a mess, but I never found him overwrought with angst or self-pity. His pain seemed entirely real to me, cutting and raw. At first I couldn’t help being a little upset with Mia for never giving him an explanation for why she so abruptly cut him out of her life. When I finally heard Mia’s side of the story, though, I understood the reasoning behind what she did. And yes, it was another misty-eyed moment for me as a reader. In fact, reading this back-to-back with If I Stay left me feeling a bit like I’d been emotionally steamrolled.

If, like me, you loved If I Stay, then it goes without saying that you need to read Where She Went. Once more, Forman expertly writes about love and loss in a way that is never contrived or saccharine. That is why she has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary YA authors.

All in All: This is another absolutely amazing novel from Gayle Forman. Her characters are just so real, and you’ll be thinking about them long after you’ve finished reading.


  1. Yes to everything! This is such a wonderful follow up and your review is just lovely :D

    1. I'm so glad that she wrote a sequel; I didn't realize how much I needed the closure until after I finished reading this.

  2. AWESOME review! I loved, If I Stay (and ugly cried through most of it), but unlike you I liked it a tad bit more then, where she went. I really did love reading the other perspective. Following you back from Fridays meme.

    Great blog!


    1. I think what gave Where She Went the slightest edge over If I Stay was its setting. I'm originally from NYC, and the portrayal of it was just perfect.

      Thanks for stopping by and following!


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