Published by Dutton Juvenile on April 5th 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.\r\nNow 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.\r\nTold 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.\r\n
Sometimes growing together means growing separately and that can’t be any more true than in the meat of Where She Went by Gayle Forman. Three years have passed since the day Adam played the music that brought Mia back from the brink of giving up. Things are much different now: Mia is on track to be a world-renowned cellist; Adam is living the high-profile life of music super-stardom. And they haven’t spoken since Mia’s departure from Oregon several years before. I’d like to take a minute to talk about such a devastating loss as Mia has survived. She lost her entire family in a car crash that tried to claim her, too. In If I Stay, she ghosts through the halls of the hospital, outside of her own body, experiencing the pain and devastation her friends and grandparents are suffering. But really, that Mia is no different than this Mia; instead of ghosting the halls of that hospital, she has instead ghosted out of her old life while she tries to find the meaning behind what happened and who she is now. Or at least that’s my interpretation of her circumstances since Where She Went is told from Adam’s perspective. Yes, Mia suffered a tragic event that might continue to haunt her for years. But what about Adam? The one thing that is never addressed in If I Stay (because of the timing) is Adam’s loss. Mia lost her family, but to Adam, they were also family, and I found it very telling that he also became a ghost in his own life, while the specters of the past continued to haunt him.
That’s the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition it is.
In some ways, I enjoyed Where She Went even more than If I Stay. Narrated by Adam, whom some readers might find too emo and angsty, I felt it the perfect follow-up and conclusion to the first novel. I really liked Adam in both books. He and Mia are messy and flawed, but that kind of makes them perfect, because the story feels real. Here we have two protagonists who absolutely love each other and are perfect together, and we realize tragedy can strike anyone and no one is going to be immune to it. Reading Adam’s heartbreak over Mia’s parents – and with a lot of heartwrench – his particular devastation over Teddy. Adam’s quote about grieving (above) puts all my feelings about his feelings into perspective. He’s angry. He made a promise to her when she was comatose that he would let her go if it meant he knew she was alive. And he did. But it made him angry, because he was heart-broken, too, and how dare she not recognize his own loss? And it made me realize that he broke his promise; he never wanted her to leave him and so he made a promise he had never intended to keep. Where She Went is told in the span of one day, where Adam encounters Mia again after those years of separation. But there time together feels like a lifetime to me (and I’m sure to them) as they navigate the choppy waters of their reunion and dredge pent-up angers from their pasts. How could she leave him? How could he have begged her to stay? These walls between them demand to be pounded on until they are broken down. Where She Went is, to this reader, flawless. It has its ups and its downs, and the only bad thing I can say about it is that I’m mad I didn’t read it sooner.