March 28, 2014

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

Her voice jolts me back to reality. Back to the reality of the past three years. There are so many things that demand to be said. Where did you go? Do you ever think about me? You've ruined me. Are you okay? But of course, I can't say any of that.
-from Where She Went by Gayle Forman
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A Note: You're probably thinking, "Wait, where was your review for If I Stay, the first book in this series?" Actually, you probably aren't, but in my perfect world you pay enough attention to my blog to have totally noticed the missing review. Here's my predicament: I listened to If I Stay on audio book during a road trip and I liked it well enough, but I didn't entirely understand all of the hype surrounding it. I think it was a classic case of audiobook disconnect, where you're separated just enough from the language to miss the connection the author aims to make with their use of language. I didn't feel like re-reading the book and I didn't feel that it was fair to write a review, so I just dove straight into the next book. Where She Went confirmed my suspicion of audiobook disconnect because actually reading it helped me connect with the words and characters so much more deeply that I have no doubts of Gayle Forman's talent as a writer.

This review contains spoilers for If I Stay.

Where She Went did not begin as I expected: instead of chronicling the life of Mia after she chooses to live after barely surviving a car accident that killed her entire family, it catches up with her now ex-boyfriend, Adam Wilde, more than three years later. Adam is now a famous rock star and he's hating every minute of it. With fame comes lack of privacy and intense scrutiny, but that's not the only thing that causes Adam intense anxiety. Adam still isn't over Mia who broke up with him by no longer communicating with him three years ago when she moved to New York to pursue her education at Julliard. When by chance Adam and Mia's paths cross one night in New York City, Adam is able to learn where she went and they both might be able to find the closure they need to move on with their lives. 

I was really really surprised to begin this story and find it centered on Adam, but it wasn't a bad surprise. In fact, it was rather refreshing to see his perspective. I felt that the his downward spiral was realistic and well articulated. So much so, that I found myself questioning Mia, a character I trusted and enjoyed so much in the first book. Usually I dislike when authors try to incorporate a character's self-written (generally cheesy) song lyrics or poems into a story, but that was not the case with the lyrics that began almost every chapter of Where She Went. I felt that they gave insight into Adam's psyche through his heartbreak and it aided with his character development. 

I've learned from both of these books that I'm not a huge fan of books that dip in and out of past and present, developing character relationships through memories. I prefer a linear story that is always moving forward and doesn't slow the momentum down with reflections. However, if I'm going to read a book with these shifts, I trust Forman to incorporate them better than most. Each reflection had a purpose and did a lot for developing the story and character relationships. It didn't slow the story down too much because there was enough of a driving force in the main story. I think this might be why I didn't enjoy If I Stay as much because I didn't feel the momentum of the main story enough. 

Overall, I think Forman did a beautiful job of explicating heartbreak on both sides of a break up. We mostly see Adam's side, but eventually we are exposed to how Mia feels and what her motivations were for disappearing from Adam's life. I felt for both of them and appreciated how Forman was able to create something that wasn't black or white, good or bad, wrong or right; as with most break ups, there's mostly grey area and she did a wonderful job illustrating that idea. Relationships are messy and this book does a great job of showing how one can maneuver through them toward closure.

Bottom Line: Read this after you've read If I Stay and if you love heartfelt YA novels! 4/5 Stars.

1 comment:

  1. Aw, I'm glad this one worked out better for you! It's my favorite of the two, but I really like them both. I'm glad the glimpses into the past and lyrics and stuff worked for you, too!


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