Thursday, May 8, 2014

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman is the sequel to her novel, If I Stay. I had actually been looking forward to reading this book for quite a while--ever since I finished the last page of If I Stay. Though many readers felt that it worked well as a standalone novel, I needed more. I needed this sequel.

If you haven't yet read If I Stay, but are planning to...stop reading now. There are bound to be some things you'll learn in this post that will wreck the first book in the series for you. I don't want to be responsible for you happening upon spoilers.

I had really enjoyed If I Stay (which is now being released as a motion picture), and rated it 4 stars back in 2012. Because of that, I had very high hopes for this book going in. The good news is that I wasn't disappointed.

The sequel picks up a few years after the conclusion of the first book. Here's what Goodreads has to say...

It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life.

And three years he's spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?  

Here come the If I Stay spoilers...

In If I Stay, Mia's family is killed in a tragic car accident. She alone survives, but in a comatose state. While viewing her life from the outside and watching herself lie in a hospital bed, Mia must decide whether to stay or to let herself die. The choice is up to her. Ultimately, she chooses to fight and live, partially due to the love shown to her by her boyfriend, Adam. In one of the most critical points of the first novel, Adam tells her:

If you stay, I'll do whatever you want. I'll quit the band; go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I'll do that too...And that would suck, but I'll do it. I can lose you like that, if I don't lose you today. I'll let you go. If you stay.

How moving is that? Seriously, the swooning. I loved Adam so much in the first novel. But that paragraph is the basis for this second novel. Because Mia chose to stay. And she chose to do it without Adam.

Unfortunately, Mia apparently didn't catch the swoon factor. She recovers from her injuries and heads to Julliard on a cello scholarship. Once at school, she starts fading out of Adam's life, never really telling him why she doesn't want him anymore.

After losing Mia, Adam continues on with his music career and becomes a star. He is touring with his band, giving interviews, living in the limelight. But it's not enough. His music comes as a result of the broken relationship between himself and Mia. The anger, the angst, the sadness, the hurt, it all comes out in his lyrics. It's those that words make him a celebrity. But the emotions take their toll on him privately. He can't move past his history with Mia. He doesn't understand what happened or why she felt he was no longer right for her. He is bitter and heartbroken. His relationship with the other members of the band is strained, he resents the popularity that has come with his fame, and he becomes a recluse who avoids any discussion of Mia in his public life.

Meanwhile, Mia has become a budding talent on her own. She has graduated from Julliard and is a concert cellist, a rather popular one with a tour schedule of her own. She has flourished.

Adam happens to discover that she is playing in New York City on the eve of his European tour. Set to fly out the next morning, he just can't let the coincidence go. He finds himself drawn in, sitting in a theater seat, listening to her play. When she asks to see him backstage after the concert, the past gets fully opened up again.

Okay, seriously. I loved this book. Loved it! (Prepare to hear the word "love" a LOT in this review.) How often do you like the sequel more than the initial book? That is the case with Where She Went. I was in it from page one and I just couldn't get enough. Just like with If I Stay, the writing is superb. The story moves effortlessly. Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down.

I like that she chose to write this book from Adam's point of view. That was a VERY GOOD decision. I liked Mia in the first book, but I loved Adam in this one. He was just what I expected, just what I wanted, based on Mia's descriptions of him in the first novel.

I very much enjoyed the voice that came through in the narrative. Adam is perfectly full of angst. He is the quintessential rock star. The emotions that pour forth from him are amazing and heartbreaking. I just wanted to wrap him up in a hug. He was so sad, but so wonderful. I totally fell in love with his character.

I also enjoy the fact that this book could do just fine as a stand alone. You don't have to read If I Stay for it to make sense. However, I will say that you should read If I Stay first if you're planning on reading it at all, because everything in that book will be ruined for you if you read Where She Went first.

There came a time in the plot where I really was torn about what I wanted. Adam has been so thoroughly destroyed by what Mia did to him that I wasn't sure I wanted them back together, but I hated that they were apart in the first place. I didn't know which would be better for me...the fairytale ending? or having Adam be able to move on without her, stronger for it? I just found myself so angry at Mia for wrecking what seemed so lovely in the first novel.

I have to say though, Gayle Forman steered the ship of this novel just right. Regardless of my back and forth feelings throughout the story, she made perfect decisions for the ending. I was content and happy when I finished the last page. It all felt right. I can't say much more than that without totally ruining the book. And though I would definitely be alright with continuing Adam's story, it ends at the right place. There isn't a need for any further books. In fact, they could potentially destroy what ended so comfortably.

If you liked (or loved) If I Stay, then you just have to read this one. If you haven't read If I Stay, but love YA fiction, you need to read this (though I would read If I Stay first). This is one that I will read again. In fact, I will be reading both of the books in the series again. I loved them so much. Have I mentioned how perfect I felt this all went? Because that's what this book was for me. Perfect. It wasn't even a question, I rated this one 5 out of 5 stars.

I choose which books I review on my blog and on my Goodreads profile. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews. My reviews are always honest...I never lie about books. My opinions are my own and may be positive or negative depending on my feelings about a specific piece. Keep in mind, just because I may like or not like a book may not mean that you will feel the same way.


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