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- Why I read it: Author and series I love, three cheers for emo boys, musicians FTW
- Disclosure: Bought a copy at my local indie. Huzzah!
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.If you had told me a year or so ago, just as I was drying my eyes after finishing If I Stay, that there would be a sequel? I would have probably dismissed it. Maybe even laughed. A book like If I Stay doesn't need a sequel, I would have thought. I like leaving endings open. I liked imagining any number of things happening to Adam and Mia after the final page; I liked keeping that story in my head.
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 Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
So imagine my surprise when I started hearing the word on the book blogger street that there were ARCs of Where She Went out there somewhere. And that they were actually pretty good. Better, even, than If I Stay. Imagine my even greater surprise when, after the book was released, I lost sleep over it. When I anticipate reading a book to the point of insomnia, I know it's one I have to at least give a shot.
And am I ever fantastically happy I did. Like If I Stay, I finished this book in a bit of a daze, and with almost as many tears. I wasn't sure if I'd liked it. In fact, I was pretty sure I hated it. Until I turned around and re-read it again, cover to cover.
It's supremely difficult to review books like these, where the experience trumps the story. I have never read a writer quite like Gayle Forman, who manages to make internal conflict interesting where it could just sound whiny. Outside of an initial, external event - the car crash in If I Stay, and Adam and Mia's meeting here in Where She Went - nothing much happens but reflections and flashbacks. And yet I am riveted again and again, because Adam and Mia are actually interesting. I care. They're good people. I've revisited this book easily a dozen times since I finished reading it, and I fall in love a little more every time.
Perhaps the best and most unusual thing about Where She Went for me that made it even more memorable than If I Stay was the age of its characters, in the in-between place between the typical age of YA protagonists and the realm of literary and mainstream adult fiction. Adam's voice - disillusioned, emo-core-sensitive, often snarky to the point of asshattery - was a perfect rendering of the twenty-somethings I know, and as a teen edging into adulthood myself, it was so fantastic and rare to read it.
I do have criticisms of this book. There were things I didn't entirely buy. Occasionally the melodrama was painful. Those are frequent criticisms for me to have of any book, though, and Where She Went was too excellent in other ways for me to really give a flying you-know-what about what's wrong with it. Gayle Forman is a YA treasure, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. Five out of five stars.