Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Goodreads: Where She Went
Series: If I Stay #2

Summary:  It has been three years since Mia made the decision to stay and pursue her education at Julliard.  Adam has not seen her since she boarded the plane.  The two come together for one night in New York before they leave on separate music tours.

ReviewIf I Stay was an enjoyable, thought-provoking book, and readers will naturally expect the same from its sequel.  To a large degree, they will not be disappointed.  Where She Went is written in a very similar style, following a present storyline interspersed with lots of flashbacks—this time from Adam’s point of view.  And Adam has to make some decisions nearly as life-changing as the ones Mia faced before.  Shooting Star has made it, and Adam is an internationally famous rock star, but he finds little joy in music anymore, and he is developing the bad habits that come with a stereotypical rock star lifestyle.

Both Adam and Mia have changed in the years since her accident, and as Adam’s life suggests, not all the changes were for the better.  Where She Went is a troubling book in that some readers might find it difficult to like the characters as much as they did before.  Adam’s problems are more obvious, but Mia has also done something terrible.  Both of them have reasons, and the right readers will understand what drove them to such destructive decisions.  But the love readers experience will be the tough kind, the kind where they love what the characters were before and what they can be—but not what they are now.  This makes an interesting reading experience, but certainly not a fun one.  Readers who dislike disapproving of nearly everything a character does will doubtless be frustrated.

Naturally, Mia and Adam do come to an understanding by the story’s end, and readers are not left dangling, sitting staring at the pages and screaming, “You idiots!”  Yet the final pages are like that of If I Stay, just conclusive enough that there is really nothing to complain about, but still a little more open than some readers might like.  I, for one, would not mind a third book, in which Forman presents Mia and Adam in a truly positive light, showing what they can accomplish when they make the right decisions.  As it is, I am proud of them, but still waiting for them to shine.

Published: 2011

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