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Where She Went

Review

Where She Went

Gayle Forman's IF I STAY was a sensation when it was published in 2009. Striking a chord with readers and reviewers alike, it was the kind of powerful, gut-wrenching novel that deeply affected everyone who was fortunate enough to open its pages. Simultaneously a painful meditation on grief and loss and an optimistic love letter to life itself, IF I STAY was told from the point of view of Mia, a young woman who has barely survived the devastating car accident that claimed the lives of her parents and brother. Although her body was locked in a coma, Mia's mind and spirit were very much awake, as she simultaneously mourned and remembered her family and absorbed the pleas of her loved ones who begged her to stay alive.

One of those friends was Adam, Mia's boyfriend who, in WHERE SHE WENT, gets a chance to narrate his own story, to tell the reader what happened after Mia decided to listen to his exhortations and stay alive. In part, at least, for him. In the three years since Mia's accident, things have changed for all of them, not least for Adam himself, who became an overnight sensation, the lead singer and songwriter of a phenomenally successful band, boyfriend of a beautiful actress, recognized on the street by countless passersby.

Ironically, what fueled all those angry, despondent lyrics that made Adam's band, Shooting Star, an overnight sensation was Mia herself, the fact that shortly after she emerged from rehab after her accident, she left Portland, Oregon, for a new life at Juilliard in New York City. She never looked back, or visited home; she simply left Adam to deal with his demons himself. Now, in the course of one night, Adam has the opportunity to find her again. But does she even want to be found?

"I think of all the voices that clatter around in my head," Adam thinks to himself, "voices that I'm pretty sure are just some older, or younger, or just better versions of me. There have been times --- when things have been really bleak --- that I've tried to summon her, to have her answer me back, but it never works. I just get me. If I want her voice, I have to rely on memories. At least I have plenty of those." Memories --- of the time before Mia's accident as well as the days and weeks directly after --- form much of Adam's narrative, looking backward even as he tries to reconnect with a future he almost, but not quite, had let go of.

If IF I STAY was a gut punch of a book, WHERE SHE WENT is more of a slow burn, the kind of ache you get after a hundred sit-ups or a 10-mile run. Adam and Mia are both older and wiser, jaded in their way, but unable or unwilling to leave behind who they were before. Again, Forman tells a powerful tale of grief, guilt and starting over, even as she crafts a compelling, deeply romantic love story that will keep readers guessing --- and cringing, sighing and hoping --- until the very last page.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 5, 2011

Where She Went
by Gayle Forman

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Speak
  • ISBN-10: 0142420891
  • ISBN-13: 9780142420898