Saturday, April 16, 2011

[Review] Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went {goodreads}
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 05/04/11
Publisher: Dutton (HB)
Source: Netgalley (ARC); Won (HB-preorder)
Age: 15+ mild language, drug use and sexual scenes
Pages: 260

My Rating:

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 Julliard'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.
My thoughts: 

Read at your own risk if you have not read If I Stay!!!

I have been anxiously waiting for the release of Where She Went, the sequel to Gayle Forman's If I Stay, ever since I heard that the story of Mia and Adam was going to continue! If anything, Forman surpassed what I could have expected of the sequel, or just what was going to happen after the events of IIS. Really, it's just amazing.

The majority of this book is set in New York, and I really got a feel for the setting when . . .  (spoiler) Mia takes Adam on a tour of New York's biggest landscapes. Just, New York! :D

Once again, Gayle Forman hits the spot in the characters department. In Where She Went, not only did she completely alter the way I felt about all of the characters I'd met in If I Stay, but she then changed it back around again to allow me to sympathise with them. Take Adam for instance. Three years after the events of If I Stay, and he's a druggie; narcissistic, wry and sarcastic. Yet, I couldn't help finding him endearing in a way, and especially when I read into what his behaviour represents and roots from. I really like how there are definite links from the two books; the family make a few appearances, in Forman-style memory fashion.

Can I also say that I'm glad that Adam turned into a total ass? He's broken: both due to his rising stardom and his losses. In his flaws, he actually became more fleshed out as a person. I mean, if he was still that sweet Man he was in IIS, after all this, then I'd start thinking he was in need of a backbone. But no, he's snarky and does what he wants. Kind of.

The colossal outpour of emotions that flow seamlessly, packed tightly in yet another little book. You'll want a couple of tissues to get through this book. While I personally think that If I Stay holds more weight to it, Where She Went is beautiful in what the heartbreak and anger represents. All that tension in the three years that the couple is about; revisiting the family home and coming to terms with what happened . . . .

*sigh* This book is just so powerful. Its characters all have their strengths and weaknesses, making them multi-faceted, complex and fleshed out so that they are realistic and relatable. Of course, it's hard to relate to them on an extremely personal level, but I was so able to empathise with them. It was refreshing to read about Adam's thoughts on the events, how he seems to bluntly talk about the situation in his mind as opposed to Mia who seems to embrace it as part of her life. That her family still lives on, which is an uplifting take on Mia's part: I appreciate Forman for expressing Mia as someone who has developed and strengthened, taken the accident in stride; rather than falling apart and losing it all. She finds her way back to music: and through Adam and her encounters, Adam, too, is found again with music.

I thought that If I Stay ended in just the right way, but I found the continuation of events profound and eye-opening. The future. There is so much tension that exists, and I love when things finally reach breaking point. I really bawled my eyes out during this one scene (which Forman commented was 'satisfying to write'). The ending is also just so satisfying, that makes me glad that their story is at an end. Really? I can imagine this being an amazing movie.

Really, what can I say to convince you how amazing this book is? Where She Went and Gayle Forman are prime examples of the highlights of contemporary YA fiction. Painted with a lyrical prose that leaves readers with satisfaction and with an intrigue of the notion "after tragedy strikes, what happens to those who are left behind?" Character-driven and chilling, Gayle Forman's sequel is emotional and uplifting, stifling and perpetually stimulating. Love love love. Can't wait to finally see what new story Forman has in store; though I'm sad to finally have to say goodbye to those Oregon-originated characters.

First Lines

"Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: It's just one day, one twenty-four-hour period to get yourself through. I don't know when exactly I started giving myself this daily pep talk--or why. It sounds like a twelve-step mantra and I'm not in Anything Anonymous, though to read some of the crap they write about me, you'd think I should be. I have the kind of life a lot of people would probably sell a kidney to just experience a bit of. But still, I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I'll get through today."

Favourite Quotes

"I feel this mad rush of anticipation, even though I know that unlike that night, tonight I won't kiss her. Or touch her. Or even see her up close.
Tonight, I'll listen. And that'll be enough."
(p. 38)

"What are you sorry about, Mia?
Even if I could bring myself to ask that--which I can't--she's jumping out of the booth and running toward the bathroom to clean the beer off herself like she's Lady Macbeth."
(p. 104--love the Macbeth reference :))


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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