Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Note: Does not contain spoilers of Where She Went, but does contain spoilers to the previous book in the series, If I Stay, a review of which can be found here.
"She kissed me good-bye. She told me that she loved me more than life itself. Then she stepped through security.
She never came back."
Where She Went is the sequel to Gayle Forman's young adult book, If I Stay, picking up three years after Mia has woken up from her coma, the result of a car accident that killed her parents and younger brother. This time the novel is written from the perspective of her boyfriend Adam, the boy who begged her to say but who she broke up with not long afterwards. Adam and Mia now musicians live on opposite sides of the country, as Mia is a rising star with her classic cello at Julliard and the record Adam wrote after his breakup has gone platinum. When Adam is visiting New York from LA, where his celebrity girlfriend Bryn lives, Mia and his lives overlap for a moment in time. As they spend an evening together on a tour of the city, they reflect on the past, where they are now, and the possible hope of the future.

If I Stay wasn't actually one of those books which end in a way that a sequel was immediately obvious- in fact, I was pretty sure I had just read the conclusion, so I was surprised to learn there would be a follow up and wondered if it would be unnecessary. What I found instead was something fairly unique- a sequel I actually liked more than the original. Like its predecessor, Where She Went alternates between what is happening in the present and scenes from the past three years and what life has been like for Adam without Mia.

The prose is simple yet lyrical, and despite being a believable male voice it remains clearly Forman. Surprisingly, considering If I Stay begins with the death of Mia's entire family, I actually found the writing in Where She Went even more heartbreaking. The power of the book is epitomized by a scene between Bryn and Adam where she expresses sympathy for Mia's death, only to have him tell her that she didn't die, realizing her mistake Bryn says "That is kinda worse". Forman allows the reader into Adam's mind, his inner rage and pain, which makes his music so strong is also what makes him so broken. Adam's emotions are real and brazen, and the way Forman uses physical metaphors for how he feels works perfectly, for example:
"I battle with invisible waves and imaginary vortexes and demons that are all too real and of my own making, I actually feel something in my chest open, a feeling so intense, it’s like my heart’s about to burst. And I just let it. I just let it out."
My biggest personal issue with the novel can't be discussed well without including spoilers, but suffice it to say that although Adam has been missing Mia for a long time but that's not his current girlfriend's fault and near the end he treated her in a way that left me disappointed in his character who I'd come to connect with emotionally. Although Adam is occasionally whiny and Mia sometimes feels cold and distant, these attributes fit perfectly within the context of the story and ultimately are redeemed when the full reasoning is understood. In Where She Went, music once again plays a key role, and I actually found it to be better incorporated than in If I Stay, perhaps because I'm more familiar with contemporary rock than classical. I also thought the haunts that Forman had the characters visit on their tour of New York were perfect, and the city itself was represented beautifully.

Where She Went will first appeal to readers who enjoyed If I Stay and want to see what happened to Mia and Adam next. They will not be disappointed. However in this case I would go one step further and suggest that even if like me, If I Stay wasn't your favourite, or perhaps you haven't read it- this novel could probably even be read as a stand-alone as it is pretty clear what happened in the previous book- I would recommend it. If you are looking for a beautiful contemporary love story, Where She Went by Gayle Forman is definitely a worthwhile read.

Release Date: April 5th, 2011
Pages: 258
: 4/5

Source: ARC From Publisher
Buy the Book


  1. I wasn't blown away with If I Stay and had issues with it, but now you've got me wanting to read this one. ;)

  2. Hey! Stopping by to say A) If I Stay is next in my TBR pile and B) I loved your comment on my post (YA Booklover Blog - in debt?). I found it funny and so true! Though I will admit I owe much more than 20 dollars... Haha!
    Thanks :)

  3. Oh don't call yourself old! You're 22! I love your blog as well (I am also a fairly new subscriber)!

  4. It does sounds interesting. I would need to read the first one.

    P.S. I looked down your blog and saw Lysistrata. I saw this play when I was in high school. The drama club performed it. I do remember laughing a lot.

  5. Me and Christina are hosting a Read Along for this book and I was wondering if you or anyone else would be interested? You can find out more about it here:


    Sorry to bother you!


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