Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman


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.


The Short Version:
Intense and engaging, Where She Went maintains the overall emotional air of If I Stay in a new setting, with a new voice, and does a smooth job of recapping the reader on everything related to Adam in the past few years. Adam’s character is beautifully done, building him intricately and showing all his sides, as well as the aftermath of what he’s been left with. With several poignant scenes, a lingering sense of destruction, and a volatile central character, Where She Went is masterfully done across the board.

The Extended Version:
Adam is a mess, heartbroken over losing Mia and not entirely sure he can really make it through everything. Now a rock star, his life is far from what he’d imagine and this constant pain and sense of loss is present from the start, and weaved through Adam’s character so perfectly it isn’t even immediately noticeable. His narrative shows not only his true thoughts and feelings, but his intelligence and perception, while still maintaining his own voice and personality. The side of him the public sees and what’s really going on his head is shown on both fronts, and blended within him to build a very relatable, sympathetic, and wrenching character.

Mia is an understandably different person than the girl seen in If I Stay, and it is immediately intriguing to see her, now, through Adam’s eyes. His initial reaction to seeing her is so on par and heartbreaking, and the subsequent night they spend together throughout the city really brings out her personality and ways. Despite her actions, she isn’t a character to hate or even dislike, and she develops and builds throughout just as well as does.

The plot of this one is simple, but so well done. From the immediate small talk and awkwardness to finally facing much needed explanations, Forman has incorporated everything expected, and so much more. Small truths hold huge meaning, and some well placed outbursts of emotion pull the reader in all over again, twisting the heart and breaking it for both of these characters. Watching Adam struggle with knowing what he asked of Mia in If I Stay—what brought her out of her coma—is handled flawlessly and delicately, while still thrusting it open to bring the reader in to his pain. Even after he meets up with Mia, the reality of his current life is never forgotten, from the fear of being noticed on the street to actually being identified, without being a cop out to avoid facing things or maintained so much it’s a turn off to the reader.

Through flashbacks, the reader is caught up on not only everything with Adam, but Mia as well. From what happened immediately after the close of If I Stay to her leaving, and his subsequent spiral then rise to fame, the overall timeline is told in full without and lags or unneeded repetition. Even within a scene, things will switch as Adam’s mind returns to the past, pulling the reader with it before coming back to the present and easily slipping back into the scene at hand .The way it comes out, in bits, is timed beautifully, really showing Adam’s true feelings, thoughts, and the sense of pain that has simply never left him. His love for Mia is intense and unadulterated, instilling an instant ache in the reader as a result.

Forman’s writing continues to be smooth and poignant, holding several beautiful descriptions and striking moments. Rapt with emotion and taking a few unexpected turns, there is little that is predictable, over all, about this book. It is clear in several places that the overall outcome truly does depend on the choices the characters make in several key scenes, leading to a final ending that is handled just as masterfully as everything else.

Source: ARC received for review from publisher in exchange for honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 208 pages 
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile 
Publication Date: April 5, 2011


  1. Would you say this book was as much a tearjerker as If I Stay?

  2. Omgoodness I want to read this book so badly!! I really liked IF I STAY, and I can't wait to read the next one. I just wish it were a little longer. 208 pages is pretty short...

  3. Alison - There are some scenes that are pretty intense, but it doesn't have that same overall air as IIS. I didn't cry in this one at all.

    KM - 208 pages still packs just as much punch as the short number of pages in IIS. There is a lot of story in those 208 pages. :D

  4. your review rocks, I agree with everything you said, this book is soo amazing! I completely agree about the simple-ish plot and the simply beautiful way the author executed it :)

  5. Great review and happy reading :)