With multi-platinum records, a celebrity girlfriend, and fame galore, rocker Adam Wilde appears to have it all. But from the surface no one would know how close he is to unraveling. He is addicted to a myriad of substances and his relationship with the band is strained to the point that they don’t even stay in the same hotels. These pale in comparison to the root of the problem, the absence of Mia in his life. For all he can see, it seems as if Mia hasn’t blinked in the three years they’ve been apart. Studying at Julliard while her concert-career takes off, she’s probably too busy and too happy in her success to miss him. But when Adam and Mia are reunited in New York, they are forced to confront what staying has cost each of them, and where they’ve been. Maybe twenty-four hours is all they needed for closure from the past and hope for the future.
In all honesty I didn’t rush out to read Where She Went after I finished If I Stay (my review). As fitting as the ending was to Mia’s ordeal, I wasn’t sure where her story could go that would satisfy ending on the note that it did, at the beginning of a path of grief and pain. But just knowing the sequel was out there with a possible happy ending for these characters was irresistible. Even if it wasn’t the ending I envisioned I had to know anyway, especially in light of the glowing reviews and better-than-the-first declarations in the blogosphere. I’m very glad that I eventually picked it up – if I had known what I was missing, I would have regretted not doing so.
There is something to say about quick reads that have substance; but whether it was quick or slow, heavy or light, I could not put down Gayle Forman’s Where She Went. The spare prose is even more sure of itself here, with the narration switching to Adam after such a dramatic turn of events. And with the exceptional characterization on display I could not be more captivated. Broken and messed up as he is, I may like Adam more than Mia in If I Stay if only for how his whole soul is laid out. Ms. Forman spares us nothing. In his unhappiness, Adam’s behavior is ugly at times, from lashing out at reporters to chewing out his band mates and simply being a privileged jerk. Anyone can see that he just needs love and friendship, so you can’t hate him for his actions. I loved him all the more for what he’s gone through and how he’s grown up. For all the information given for where Adam has been, we offered about the opposite for Mia. Yes, she’s been beyond busy studying at Julliard, practicing, and traveling around the world performing, but where has she been emotionally? I would have appreciated some of the novel written from her perspective. As it is, it seemed out of character for her to drop Adam the way she does without further explanation. Nevertheless, it’s hard to judge the girl after all she has lost. The ease of the solution seemed to fit the heartbreaking circumstances. After reading the ending I happily flipped back to reread those quiet, intimate moments at Mia’s apartment that made my heart palpitate. Both If I Stay and Where She Went are beautifully written novels that will do just about anything that can be done to your heart. A worthy sequel, Where She Went is recommended for fans of contemporary YA.