Here’s the thing, did you read Gayle Forman’s If I Stay when it came out a few years ago? If not, I recommend that you do so first, before checking out the sequel, Where She Went. Doing so will just make the impact of the story that much more…effective. Sometimes, I know I’m not in a place where I am emotionally prepared for the intense journey a story will take the reader on, so I mill around and wait a little while before diving in – even when I am almost certain that I will love the story. This was the case with Forman’s Where She Went. I was so excited for its release, and then when it was here – I didn’t think I was ready for it. So, I waited. Then I waited some more. Finally a week or so ago, I was at the library (returning a few books, but of course I had to browse the shelves before I left.) This lovely title was actually in the library at the time, so I jumped on the opportunity to finally read it. I was ready to get inside the mind of Adam – three years after all the chaos with Mia and the accident in If I Stay went down. Despite basically catapulting to rock star success with the Shooting Star band, basically achieving a lot of the things he thought he wanted Adam is a tortured soul, a shell of his former self. He’s disconnected from fans, lost his passion for the music, emotionally and physically distant from his band mates. His broken wounded heart has tormented him psychologically over the years, and it’s taking a toll on him. Adam is angry, and anger does a lot to a person. He’s “dealing” (I use this term loosely because he’s dealing in the kind of way where we tries to get through the day, or the hours as they’re happening but has basically pushed everyone away and relies on anti-anxiety medication and cigarettes to calm his nerves.) But who can blame him? I’d be a mess if I was mobbed by obsessed fans in small spaces, too.
I started reading this one on Monday and finished it last night. Basically, I devoured it. Without saying too much to reveal the plot – some of the twists surprised me. This definitely wasn’t predictable all the way through. My heart deflated, than it filled up with happiness at these beautiful words. I love the way Foreman begins many of the chapters with lyrics from songs off the Collateral Damage album Adam wrote. It was really cool to see the world through Adam’s eyes, and how his experiences had shaped him and the grip of fear, loss, and grief was affecting him. I read in the interview Lauren Oliver did with Gayle Forman, that she hadn’t originally planned to pen a sequel to If I Stay, but how awesome is it that she did? And I love that it picks up a few years later – the characters have had time to grow, to accept different opportunities, meet new people who have had significant impacts on their lives. Attempt to navigate the murky waters of being twenty-somethings. Plus, who doesn’t love a story that involves adventures through NYC?!
This story is more than just the view of the pain and frustration Adam is living with, but it’s also an exploration of life what it means to try to let go of something you’ve had a steal grip on. Sometimes, that might be the ghosts of your past, disabling you to move towards a more positive future.
Adam and Mia always had a unique bond through music – the music they’ve created, and the way they react to and understand music they love. This is such a huge part of both of their stories, and I think it’s exciting to see the way it can have positive and negative impacts on them – bringing people together, but also sometimes pushing them apart.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I’m glad that I waited to read it until I could fully absorb all the intense detail. I highly recommend you check it out (and If I Stay, if you haven’t!) Have you read this novel? I’d love to discuss what you thought about it! Leave a little note in the comments, and we’ll chat.