Where She Went — Gayle Forman

4.5/5 stars
Goodreads summary: 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 Juilliard’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 StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

____________________________________________________

“If you stay, I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll quit the band, go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I’ll do that, too. Maybe coming back to your old life would just be too painful, maybe it’d be easier for you to erase us. And that would suck, but I’d do it. I can lose you like that if I don’t lose you today. I’ll let you go. If you stay.”

That was Adam’s promise to Mia in If I Stay, and in Where She Went we see that he has been forced to keep it. Three years after the accident that killed her family, Mia has left for Juilliard and completely cut ties with Adam. It was more an abandonment than a breakup, and Adam hasn’t been able to move on. He can’t enjoy the success of his band, Shooting Star, or his super hot famous girlfriend. He has become an isolated mess, having panic attacks just thinking about going on tour and no longer finding any solace or joy in music. One Friday the thirteenth, Adam refuses to fly from New York to London with his bandmates—it’s an unlucky day, you see—and through the subsequent fortuitous chain of events, he and Mia are given one more day together.

I actually liked Where She Went more than its predecessor. Both novels are very character-driven with little action, and both have themes of love and recovery. But something about Adam’s narrative made it easier for me to connect with him. He seems so much more involved in life, despite his isolation. Where Mia was detached, Adam was emotionally—and sometimes physically—responsive to everything. My heart was breaking for him the entire time as he tried to figure out how to cope with everything in his life—with unwanted fame, with the loss of a family that wasn’t technically his to lose, with Mia taking him up on the promise he’d never told her he made, with finally and truly letting her go.

And I get that Mia’s story is partially about that detachment, about having to step back and make an unbearably difficult decision. But she still seems emotionally distant in Where She Went. As much as Adam doesn’t want to feel, he does, and he does it passionately. And his lyrics, which opened most of the chapters, made me wish he actually had a CD out for me to listen to as I read.

Reading this left me feeling gutted, and though the ending is beautiful and hopeful and the extras after the Acknowledgments are happy, I won’t lie: There were points when I’m pretty sure my tears had tears.

My feelings about these books are complex, because I love them so much. They are just so wonderfully written and poignant and I know Mia’s and Adam’s stories will stick with me for years. But they also left me so emotionally drained that I doubt I could ever reread them.

On a final note, I’m not sure why this mini-series keeps being compared to Twilight because honestly I just don’t see it. Please don’t let that blurb on the paperback cover of If I Stay keep you from reading these books.

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3 thoughts on “Where She Went — Gayle Forman

  1. So glad you loved it!!!! Gayle Forman is definitely one of my favorite authors after reading If I Stay/Where She Went. I just started Just One Day and I’m SO glad to be reading her work again!!! It’s so moving and emotional and all the feelings!!

    • Those have been added to my TBR shelf on Goodreads. Unfortunately (?), my real-life TBR shelf has about 20 library books on it right now and I need to get cracking on those before I can read anything else. Each book is like a gateway drug for me; I get sidetracked by finding more books like that one or by that author and then I never finish the others I buy/borrow.

      • Oh my gosh, same here! I keep buying books because I need to have them and then it takes me FOREVER to read them and then there’s library books… Ah! I never ends but in a way that’s kind of a good thing lol

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