Series: If I Stay #2
Published by Dutton Children's Books on April 5th 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
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.
Where She Went is the successional addition to Forman’s spectacular If I Stay. If the seminal theme of If I Stay were about finding a reason to continue living, then Where She Went’s theme could be construed as finding what makes life worthwhile and livable.
Adam, an infamous bad boy rocker, has been in a perilous emotional and mental state since his longtime girlfriend, Mia Hall left him. Chance brings them together for one more night and this novel chronicles those precious twenty-four hours together and Mia and Adam get down to what’s really important.
You guys would not believe the horrible search terms I needed to use to find this image…
Okay, not really. But there’s a lot of dissecting their relationship and what happened between them to result in a three year absence that has crippled Adam emotionally.
In form and function, Where She Went is very similar to If I Stay. They’re both character driven novels sparse on action and heavy on reflective and emotional content. They’re also almost entirely reliant on the strength of their character voices, giving Forman and veritable tightrope to balance on between pained and raw characters, or whiny emo complainers.
There is a noticeable difference that is strongly pronounced between this novel and the last one though. In If I stay there is a full cast of varied, lovable, interconnected characters common history but divergent personalities. Where She Went is a departure in this area. Adam is an isolated character, having lost even his passion for music which had been fueling him.
Where Mia had been a self-introspective prone to examining the people around her, her relationship to them and everyone’s motives, Adam is more of a reactive character.
“My hand is shaking and my heart is pounding and I feel the beginnings of a panic attack, the kind that makes me sure I’m about to die.”
We get a lot of this physical narrative and you have to search within the circumstances and dialogue to make sense of Adam’s motives and reasoning because he is usually quite vague about it himself. Mia was a character who knew herself and the people around her. Adam is a character who is almost wholly blind to his and other people’s motivations and reasoning.
Gayle uses a variety of rich, descriptive language without seeming ingenuous to the voice of a twenty-one year old musician – at least to the layman.
Still, despite all the praise, I struggled to connect to Adam and the narrative to the degree that I had in If I Stay. But don’t confuse my admittance that this is a less emotive novel, with it not being an emotional novel at all. Where She Went still packs a falcon punch to the heart strings and still manages to illicit some seriously strong passion.
Perhaps my favourite aspect of this book is the song extracts at the beginning of each chapter. Stiefvater’s debut, Shiver, never resonated with me as I never connected to Sam’s poetry. It always felt contrived and weak and lessened the novel for me. Adam, on the other hand, I would listen to and read were he a real person.
Perhaps that’s Forman’s strongest ability. Her characters have a complexity and depth to them, missing in so many other YA novels. It’s not exactly hard to make musicians seem sexy but Forman certainly knows how to exceed past all expectations. For most readers, this novel will not disappoint.
Tuba? More like Tuboner! Hahahahahaha! Okay, no more musician jokes.