Where She Went by Gayle Forman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IF I STAY.
While reading this book, I kept on thinking about Megan McCafferty. Huh? I know this doesn't make much sense, but really, this is how I wished Perfect Fifths had been written. Don't get me wrong, I loved Perfect Fifths, loved the 80 pages conversation, the haikus, the Barry Manilow karaoke that so many people despised.
I just wish this had been the style of that book too, so to close the story with a bang. Anyway.
This book takes place three years after the events of If I Stay. Mia has left for Juilliard and left Adam, almost without a word, never coming back. He's become a rock star, gone on with his life and his music but he's wounded. Mia's left a terrible void, too many things unexplained.
Until, in New York for some interviews before leaving for a long and stressful European tour, Adam meets Mia for one more night and the dam of emotions choking inside him finally breaks, yearning for closure.
What an emotional, intense read. I was a wreck yesterday after finishing it. I read the last 40 or so pages twice because I'd rushed through them the first time. Needless to say, I loved it. There are not many authors nowadays that manage, with their words, exploiting the power of my imagination, to make a mess of me. I'm tough. So, kudos to Gayle Forman for achieving that.
While If I Stay was told from the point of view of a comatose Mia, Where She Went is told from Adam's POV. Adam is such a wounded, broken, lost person it hurt just thinking to be him. True, the real victim of that terrible accident was Mia. She lost her parents, her brother, her life as she knew it. But how would it feel to see the person you loved more than anything, that you tried to help recover from a terrible trauma, that you basically annihilated yourself for, reject you and walk away without even a glance? How do you pick up the pieces of what is left? Forman did a great job in characterizing a truly broken heart, because that is what Adam is, his heart is broken and Mia left with a piece of it.
I had conflicting emotions about Mia for a good part of the book. Just like Adam, I couldn't understand her cruelty. What happened to her was certainly life-changing and awful, but it does not forgive her behavior. She complains a lot about people giving her free passes out of pity, but that's exactly what she asks of Adam, who has to let her walk away to put together the pieces of her life by herself. The impression she left on me in this book is of a person who has to have it her way: her difficulty with Adam's gigs, her refusal to go camping because "I sleep in a bed", her ultimatum to Kim not go to school near her, speak of a difficult person. While Adam's love and dedication for Mia transpired from every single page of this book, I found myself wondering if the love she felt for Adam was as strong and as genuine as his. At times, I really thought she didn't deserve this guy.
But ultimately, the truth is I can't really judge Mia because what do I know about losing a family in the span of a few hours? What do I know about undergoing endless surgeries and running a risk of brain damage? What do I know about post traumatic stress disorder? It's difficult to say how one would react in such a situation and so, yet again, Mia gets a free pass. From me, too.
A book about love everybody should read.
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