“Where She Went (If I Stay #2)” by Gayle Forman

Author: Gayle Forman
Read Date: 6 January 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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 Julliard’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.

So I gave this one a 5 out of 5 stars, and I will be honest–I think at least one star out of that 5 had to do with me being happy about this installment after the depressing, gut-wrenching, sucker-punching, heart-piercing cry-fest that was “If I Stay”, and I mean all of that in a very flattering way.

I’ll be your mess, you be mine
That was the deal that we had signed
--“Messy”: Collateral Damage, Track 2

This is one of those “another point-of-view” stories–we get to read Adam’s this time–but Forman took a different approach compared to what other YA/NA authors did (e.g. Tahereh Mafi, Keira Cass, even Stephenie Meyer). Instead of an alternate POV of the same scene or event, Forman opted to continue the story but to tell it from Adam’s perspective. “Where She Went” continues Mia’s and Adam’s stories three years after the end of “If I Stay”. I liked this approach because it felt like I was reading both a new story and a sequel at the same time, and Forman was able to write it in such a way that it didn’t feel disjointed from “If I Stay”.

Despite his angst and rock-star emo-ness, I found Adam easier to read than Mia, but maybe this is partly because Adam did not have the spectre of death looming over him. And also, by the time Mia and Adam finally meet again, I was almost completely on Adam’s side and was ready to declare Mia persona non grata…well, at least until she had the chance to explain herself.

You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow but realized too late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet
--“Bridge”: Collateral Damage, Track 4

One of the strengths of both “Where She Went” and “If I Stay” is the measured pace of the characters’ development through a very effective use of flashbacks, musical references, familiar emotional beats, and in the case of “Where She Went”, the song lyrics that Adam wrote for Shooting Star’s hit album. As I read through the books, I felt like the characters were…tangible–I felt like I knew them so well and could relate to them a lot even if I’m not even close to being as talented as Mia nor as famous as Adam.

Someone wake me when it’s over
When the evening silence softens golden
Just lay me on a bed of clover
Oh, I need help with this burden
--“Hush”: Collateral Damage, Track 13

Speaking of the lyrics, during Forman’s signing here in the Philippines, I asked her if she ever thought of completing the lyrics of the songs in “Collateral Damage:, and if she ever thought of having someone produce the album. She said that the lyrics were some of the hardest parts of the book to write, so she doesn’t plan on writing the full songs.

She also revealed that in the movie adaptation of “If I Stay”, the producers recruited actual musicians to act as Shooting Star, and that the members actually bonded and tended to practice playing music together. The music supervisors also produced actual songs for the band, and some will even be included in the movie’s soundtrack.

First you inspect me
Then you dissect me
Then you reject me
I wait for the day
That you’ll resurrect me
--“Animate”: Collateral Damage, Track 1

If these 2 books were a kind of music, then, appropriately enough, “If I Stay” would be a mournful solo cello piece, and “Where She Went” would definitely be a rock anthem that will bring the crowd to its feet.

❆ ❆ ❆
Related Reviews:

7 thoughts on ““Where She Went (If I Stay #2)” by Gayle Forman

  1. Kzubiri17 says:

    OMG. I am so excited to read this book.. My friends told me that it was worth it to read and I am ready to cry again! :’)

Add a thought to the Pensieve

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s