Friday, January 13, 2012

Where She Went - Gayle Forman

Summary:  My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her.  I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night's performance.  I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet--not miles, not continents, not years--and to take a callused finger to her face...

But I can't touch her.  This is a privilege that's been revoked.

It's been three years since Adam's love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it...

...and 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 L.A. 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, powerful 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.  (Summary from jacket cover and image from

My Review:  This was another compelling and time-warping book.  A companion and sequel to If I Stay (RFS reviews here and here), it was heart-wrenching, emotion-packed, grief-driven ride into the world of Adam and Mia.  I loved it.  If I Stay is from Mia's perspective and this from Adams.  At first I wasn't sure if I liked this switch in point of view.  Within a few chapters I was not only sold, but I also believed the relationship (despite starting in high school) of Mia and Adam.  While reading I couldn't fathom the reasons for their separation, but this all changed by the end and both Adam and Mia's subconscious motives are revealed.  I can't say I've ever dealt with such grief, such raw and undeserved pain.  That's probably why I couldn't see where the story was going or how it would ever resolve itself.  The ending was most satisfying, and even despite the fact the outcome may seem cliche to some, Forman made it believable enough for me.  I was rooting for Adam (and for Mia, although lesser in the beginning) and hoping that his wounds would eventually heal, and that's what you get (without going into too much detail and ruining the ending of the book).

I wish I had more knowledge of the music she wrote about and referenced.  It might have helped me understand the tone she was looking for and the mood that I got from reading.  If you have the chance, and you're in the midst of reading this book, I'd say look up the songs while reading and see if it adds more depth.

I am a bit surprised this book is in my middle school library.  Not because of the content, but because of the swearing (or the amount of it) and the hinted-at sex scene.  I maybe shouldn't be that surprised, because it seems that YA lit is saturated with it.  Still, for and eighth graders I still think the adult nature of their relationship is too mature.  Maybe I'm old fashioned, but that's my opinion.

Rating:  4.5 stars

For the sensitive reader:  A hinted-at sex scene as well as Adam's one-night-stand references, and swearing throughout might turn off some readers.  When I book talk for my students I give them movie ratings.  This one would be R simply for the number of times the F word was used.

Sum it up:  A thoroughly engrossing, but not depressing story of healing from devastating grief.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Hi, I really enjoyed reading your book review. I wanted to try a book by Gayle Forman and I had no idea which one to choose, this helped me decide on one. Keep writing! :)


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